The devil’s here…and he’s the least of the problems

I saw this book on the ALA’s 2010 list of best books for young adults.  The title alone is enough to pick it up, but the reviews were also tempting.  There was a lot of stuff I loved about it, and it’s definitely a good book, although I’m not sure it’s my kind of read.  But after thinking about it, I decided it still falls into the category of books you want to stay up late and read (and I did that with this one), so it definitely deserves a spot on the blog.

Title: Soul Enchilada
Author: David Macinnis Gill
: Fiction/Fantasy
Age: Middle School and High School

Summary and Review:

“Bug” is a high school dropout, an orphan three times over, whose problems seem big–keeping a regular job and paying rent in a nasty apartment.  Then the devil’s sidekick comes to collect on a debt her grandfather owes.  Apparently, he sold his soul to buy a Cadillac and has now disappeared.  The plot twists again (although they let you know this on the back cover, so it’s not really a spoiler, although I wish they didn’t) when she fights to save the car and realizes that her soul was put up as collateral.

The story takes a lot of turns, which many reviewers seemed to have trouble believing, but didn’t actually bother me that much.  Basketball games and pizza delivery races with the devil?  Hey, I’m there.  I like a book like that.  But for me, I wanted a bit more in the characters.  Bug is feisty and strong, an independent woman to a fault.  But shouldn’t she have some other side?  You see it a little when she remembers her mom–I would have just liked to see a little more.  Of course, maybe I’m being sexist here–if this were a male action hero, would I be asking the same thing?  I certainly hope so.  Same with the other characters–they are interesting and likeable, but I wished I got to know them better.

Possible conversations to have with your kids:

The book doesn’t necessarily lend itself to deepness: that isn’t a fault, it’s just not the point of the book.  But if your kid is reading it, there are things you could talk about.

First, there’s the whole making-a-deal-with-the-devil thing.  Who would do it?  For what would you make a similarly large sacrifice?  Is there a modern true-life equivalent of selling one’s soul?  What would that be?

Before she realizes her soul is up as collateral, Bug fights to keep that Cadillac–despite the presence of a stinky, powerful demon now in the passenger seat.  Why would anyone put up such a dangerous fight for an object?  For Bug, the car is not only a prized possession, but the last remaining memory of her grandfather.  Are there things in your life that mean that much to you?  Why?

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