Growing up isn’t easy. It never has been, and it probably never will be. High schooler Jason is just trying to make it to eighteen with as little trouble as possible, which is difficult when you have an abusive small time drug dealer for a dad and a little sister to look after. But Jason knows how to fight back; there isn’t a day that his dad comes at him that Jason doesn’t give as good as he gets. His tough kid reputation has made sure that no one at school messes with him. He makes money doing odd jobs around the city, saving up for his eighteenth birthday, when he can take his little sister and start over. Somewhere in Florida, maybe.
Then football star and rich teen heartthrob Michael offers Jason an easier way out. Every day that Jason hangs out with Michael and his friends, Michael will pay Jason fifty dollars. It beats lugging concrete for cash under the table and that kind of money adds up fast. Jason accepts and is thrust headfirst into Michael’s game. At first it’s all parties, posturing, and a complicated relationship with Michael’s girlfriend Cyndra who faces troubles of her own at the hands of her oblivious mother and all too watchful stepfather. But as Michael ups the ante, offering more and more money for shadier and shadier tasks, Jason finds himself caught in Michael’s web. Every choice he makes from that point on may mean the end of his plan for freedom.
Still Waters is Ash Parsons‘ debut novel and is a great book for teens looking to get back into reading. The writing is simple and well-paced, with a decidedly surprising twist in its closing chapters. Other than these fine points, it is difficult to see why the book is advertised as “evoking The Outsiders”.
The book is full of difficult to swallow sexism toward its two leading ladies, who happen to be Jason’s little sister Janie and love interest Cyndra. Cyndra for all her cunning is less than a person and more of a trophy for whoever makes it to the end of the book alive.
Principal characters Jason and Michael are well fleshed out, but both are so morally grey it becomes difficult to tolerate their actions toward each other and others in the text. Jason’s feelings of superiority also make it difficult to connect to the character and root for him to win.
Readers looking to get their feet wet after a dry spell will enjoy Still Waters but will soon find themselves ready to move on to something more well rounded…like The Outsiders.
- Posted by Nailah