The Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson
Release Date: June 3rd, 2014
Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 240 Pages
Source: eARC via Netgalley (thanks!)
Age Group: Young Adult
Robert “‘Cali” Callahan is a teen runaway, living on the streets of Venice Beach, California. He’s got a pretty sweet life: a treehouse to sleep in, a gang of surf bros, a regular basketball game…even a girl who’s maybe-sorta interested in him.
What he doesn’t have is a plan.
All that changes when a local cop recommends Cali to a private investigator who is looking for a missing teenager. After all, Cali knows everyone in Venice. But the streets are filled with people who don’t want to be found, and when he’s hired to find the beautiful Reese Abernathy, who would do anything to stay hidden, Cali must decide where his loyalties truly lie.
The Prince of Venice Beach is a good summertime read but maybe not for the reasons someone would dub a book a “good summertime read”. The setting is Venice Beach, aka beachy Los Angeles, California, which if you’ve ever been there, you know it’s like its own universe – tons of volleyball courts, the promenade, and Muscle Beach. And The Prince of Venice Beach feels like the story was just plucked right out of the setting. It feels so real – and gritty.
The life of a runaway kid isn’t glamorous and this book doesn’t look at life on the streets with rose colored glasses; I’m glad for that because it makes me scared for these kids (which people should be!). Each of these runaways have their own story of how they ended up in their current situations, though some are more mysterious than others. It’s heartbreaking.
I’m also glad that Cali isn’t just a beach bum who wants to just hang out on the beach and get by. He wants more from life – a GED and a career for starters. The private investigating part of the book is good and I love his ethical conflict/struggle. Can you do something for someone you don’t know – no questions asked – for cash? It’s hard to say when you’re on the street.
Not what I consider a “light read”, with a character who reminded me so much of Alaska from John Green’s Looking for Alaska, I’d recommend The Prince of Venice Beach to YA fans who can handle the non-fluffy side of contemporary.