PRINTZ HONOR BOOK, 2010
Rapp, A. (2009). Punkzilla. Candlewick Press: Massachusetts.
This book is presented as a series of letters from Jamie, aka Punkzilla, to his older brother, Peter, who is dying of AIDS. While most of the letters are from Jamie, there are others that are dated a year before when Jamie has not yet gone AWOL from military school. The letters are an account of Jamie’s journey as he travels to see Peter before he dies. During his journey he meets many colorful and interesting characters, one of which is Lewis who is transgender. Jamie states that he is mistaken for a girl many times. This encounter could be representative of one of the many issues teens struggle with; their sexuality. This book contains graphic sex scenes including pedophilia, homosexual sex, and heterosexual sex. It also references drugs. As I looked at the dates of the letters, I could determine that Jamie went AWOL right after his domineering father came for a visit. Another relevant teen issue, that of parents. All these conflicts that Jamie deals with are the same for the teens reading the novel. This is a book for the mature teen reader. Jamie has plenty to say in his diary-like readings and teens will easily relate. My favorite character was Sam who Jamie described as a nice kid, he shared food with Jamie and his mom offers Jamie a place to stay. This brought tears to the eyes of Jamie, then he steals Sam’s backpack and hid behind a dumpster.