Oh Sprout. How do I even start? Do I think this book is wonderfully written? Yes. Do I think it's going to cause some issues with controversy? Maybe. Do I want you to read it? Yes, yes, yes. Is Dale Peck brilliant? Definitely.
After Sprout's mom dies, his dad packs him up from their home on Long Island and moves them to the middle-of-nowhere in some rundown town in Kansas, where Dad continues his drinking journey and Sprout is definitely not blending in. It could be the bright green hair, it could be that he calls himself Sprout, and it could be because he has become an English teacher's pet, when she sees potential in him to win the yearly essay writing contest. Or it could be because Sprout is gay.
That being said, the premise of this story is not about Sprout being gay in a small Kansas town or having to attempt to be accepted. He knows he's somewhat of an outcast and makes the best of it. Instead, we find ourselves searching for Sprout's secret, of which he is continually referring to and wondering just what is going to come out of his mouth (or his pen) next. The one-liners in this book are incredible!
Though he comes off as incredibly confident and sure of himself, Sprout is able to grow and learn more about who he really is, throughout the course of his story. He falls in love for the first time and gets a broken heart for the first time, all typical parts of teenage history, though Sprout is anything but typical. There is some language in the book, as well as sexual situations, though no real descriptions or intimate details are given.
Sprout is one of the more unique stories I've come across in recent years, not only in terms of subject matter, but in the attitude of the main character and in the plot style. The character development is really remarkable, leading to a comparison of Sprout to A Catcher in the Rye. The characters remind me of each other in the quirky, out-of-the-ordinary manner.
I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would, so much so that I have to tell you to go out and read it. It's unique, fresh, and incredibly well-written, quirky, and even a slight "risk." I loved it and I think it would make an excellent choice for an AP English course, instead of reading about Holden again...though I don't think it will actually make it into the classroom. Prove me wrong, someone!
Definitely for a more mature teen, but a great choice for libraries. Lovvvved it!
To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.