Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse; Original edition (July 20, 2010)
Author's Web Site: http://www.caroleedean.com/
Where do I begin with this book? Is it enough for me to say, just go read it? Probably not, huh? Take Me There was sent to us a couple of months ago, and has been sitting on my shelf ever since (while I try to tackle this never-ending TBR pile). It looked, from the cover, like a cute little fluff book. A romance that might be fun to read sometime. Let me just tell you, DON'T JUDGE A BOOK BY IT'S COVER!! (Have you heard that before?) This book was NOT fluff!
So many things happened and so many issues were tackled that I just don't know where to start or how to end. When Dylan Dawson was just six years old, his father was arrested for murder. He has grown up his entire life believing that he was worthless and had no future. Add to this the fact that he can't read or write very well, and you have a recipe for disaster. Dylan was recently released from Juvie for working at a chop shop (stealing cars and selling the parts), and has vowed to turn his life around. If not for himself, then for Jess, the girl he hopes to one day be good enough for. But trouble seems to find Dylan wherever he hides, and soon he is running from his past, from the cops, and for his life. His journey takes him to Texas, where he hopes to visit his imprisoned father and find the answers to the questions he's been asking his whole life.
Dylan takes us with him on his journey to escape his past. We travel with him and his best friend, Wade, to Texas, where we meet his convict father, his eccentric grandmother, and her very interesting pig. The story jumps from the present, to the past, where Dylan paints a picture of the life he was hoping to have with Jess, the girl he has loved since childhood. He shows us the poetry he has to fight to write because he doesn't know how to spell. Then there are excerpts from a book that his father, Dylan Dawson Sr., has written from prison, explaining how illiteracy is like brand that marks people for prison from childhood. These excerpts were so moving, and all I could think was that it makes me so sad to think that the people who most need to read this book, probably can't.
It was an incredible thing to fall in love with the main character of a book. Dylan is a "bad-boy" in the sense that he can't quite seem to get it right, but he certainly is not when it comes to the way that he treats Jess. He is so incredible to her that I just melted! And his poetry! I'm not a person who usually enjoys poetry, but I loved it in this book. It was the story behind the poems that made them so beautiful. To read about the emotions and experiences as he is going through them, then to read the poetry he uses to express those feelings was amazing.
The storyline has so many different twists. Just when you think one thing is resolved, WHAM, you're hit with something else! There are murders, and gangs, and jail fights, and executions, there's mystery, and dealing with illiteracy, and betrayal, and then there's friendship, and love....romance, yes, but also the love between family and friends and how far they will go to protect each other. I just can't say enough about this book!
Take Me There is heartbreaking, but hopeful. I can't tell you how many times I sighed, wiped tears from my eyes, and said out loud to whoever was in the room, "I love this book!" Is it my favorite book? I don't know. But what I do know is that it was the most moving story I've ever read.
Favorite quote: "Is she worth all that pain?"
"Definitely, but I don't deserve her."
"Then be somebody who does."
Parents and those who are interested: There is quite a bit of heavy language in this book, as well as some sexual dialog, and quite a lot of violence. If this is something you're concerned about, like I am, this may be a time (if there ever is one) to make an exception. This book has a really incredible message about illiteracy and how it relates to the path that children will inevitably end up on. I thought this book was so incredibly powerful! Just my two cents. If you'd like more details about content, go to Take Me There on Parental Book Reviews.