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Posted: June 14, 2020

A great gift for a teen contemplating strangeness of life

Book Review

By Derryll White

Nelson, Blake (2014).  The Prince of Venice Beach.

This is a pleasing and different novel.  There is no sex, drugs or booze here.  No really coarse language.   The publishers have designated this novel as ages 12 an up, and I agree and would encourage the “up” segment. I read the whole novel in a day, intrigued by where the author was taking me.

Robert “Cali” Callahan is a Nebraskan runaway who settles in Venice Beach. Not yet old enough to drive, Cali is street smart.  He takes the reader into a life that is all-too-real.  There are the users and abusers but there are also the positive helpers such as Hope Stillwell, who sets Cali up in a tree house in her backyard.

Cali has dreams. He wants to make something of himself, to be an honourable person. He goes to the local community college to learn about the larger world.  He plans to set up a business as a “people finder” kind of private eye.

Mostly though, Cali does others the honour of being thoughtful and caring.  In an eventful, homeless young world this earns Cali the title of “the Prince of Venice Beach.”

This is a thoughtful, well-written novel that will open the eyes of young and old alike.  It would make a great gift to a young teen contemplating the strangeness of life.  I enjoyed it immensely.


Excerpts from the novel:

VENICE BEACH – People never get tired of taking that picture: the sun disappearing into the ocean, the end of the day, the end of their vacation… and then back on the plane to Ohio or Wisconsin or wherever they came from, someplace where they don’t have seagulls or palm trees or the sound of waves crashing in their dreams at night.

ATTITUDE – It’s impossible to talk about how a girl is hot without sounding gross or embarrassing, but here’s how she was hot.  She was just very, very confident.  I mean, she was also pretty and vaguely athletic and stuff, but the main thing was she had this way of carrying herself with her chin tilted up and her shoulders kind of back in this way that was like, yeah, I have kind of small probably great-looking boobs and am in general just really hot, and if you don’t agree, then definitely go fuck yourself.  Somehow all of that was conveyed by how she carried herself.  It was hot.  Okay.  I’ll shut up.

TODAY’S WORLD – Basically going through your life with no phone is like driving a car from inside a chicken suit.

– Derryll White once wrote books but now chooses to read and write about them.  When not reading he writes history for the web at www.basininstitute.org.

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