Dylan, a junior at a rough, south-side Oklahoma City high school, who doesn’t figure he’ll amount to much, is the butt of jokes at school because of his weight, and with only a couple friends and no hopes of getting a girlfriend, seems an unlikely hero, even in his own life.  When he discovers the body of a classmate in a dumpster behind the school, Dylan gets a taste of popularity; too bad it only lasts a day or two.  Realizing that his life is nothing more than “a zero in the scheme of the universe” (28), Dylan decides that what he needs is to get himself some mojo, some power, respect, clout.

So Dylan and his best friend, Audrey, decide to get in on the search for a rich girl from the North side who’s recently gone missing.  Dylan figures it’s his chance: if he can find a girl as rich and beautiful as Ashton Browning, return her unharmed to the arms of her beloved family, surely he’ll get the mojo he’s looking for.  A one hundred thousand dollar reward her dad is offering sounds pretty sweet too.  But as Dylan starts poking around Ashton’s elite private school, getting involved with her ultra-rich and secretive friends, and digging deeper into a shady hangout nicknamed “Gangland”, what started out as simply an effort to get himself a little respect (and some cash) turns into a more complicated and deadly game than he could ever have imagined.

For readers who enjoy teens turned detective, whether it’s searching out clues to disappearances (and murders) in shady parts of town (Shelter, The Butterfly Clues) or digging into the secrets behind prep school walls (Reality Check, All Unquiet Things), National Book Award Finalist Tim Tharp‘s latest, MOJO, is worth picking up.  Dylan is your average guy, certainly nothing to write home about when you first meet him, and his motives for “doing the right thing” are self-centered and questionable in the beginning.  But once he decides that what he’s doing really does matter, both to the people depending on him and to himself, he finds a reserve of courage and a hidden tenacity that prove he had the mojo inside himself all along.  He just needed to do a little investigating to find it.

  • Posted by Cori

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