Book Review: Tap Out by Eric Devine

Tap Out by Eric Devine is a book for young adults and adults about how hard reality can be for some young people, and how finding a way out might seem like an impossible dream. Tony Antioch is seventeen, and lives in a trailer park called Pleasant Meadows. No one here asks questions, because everyone already thinks they know the answers. Tony dreams of standing up and rescuing his mother from her own drug habits and constant stream of abusive boyfriends. Tony's friends each have their own troubles to face, and after Rob and school situations bring Tony to a local gym to learn mixed martial arts, Tony thinks he might have found a talent and a way to help him escape the path that seems set for his future. However, Tony quickly finds that life is dealing him a complicated set of problems he will have to solve for himself before he can help his mother, any of his friends, or himself escape the paths they are on. Everyone around him seems stuck on a dead end track, can Tony find a way to stay true to himself and face the consequences of the choices he makes along the way?

Tap Out is a hard book to read, because the problems faced by the characters are very real, and very troubling. There are people trapped by their situations with no apparent way out. Tony, Rob, and the people around them feel very real, and I found myself with a racing heart and sweaty palms as the characters faced problems far beyond anything I have ever faced. I was glad to see adults portrayed as trying to help, and how the different approaches were actually seen or felt by the teens.

The book is very gritty, and completely unapologetic in revealing parts of our society that often get overlooked or swept under the rug. I think that is wonderful, because the youth in these situations are often forgotten or just seen as trouble because of situations they want no part of. I could have done with a few less f bombs being tossed around, although I am certain that they were used to impart the hard lives and reality of how real people in similar situations might speak, but after awhile I did find it a little distracting.

Tap Out is a book I would recommend to older teens and adults. It deals with serious issues, and shows a very harsh reality.It is not an easy read, it is not fun or quick going. In face there were a few moments in which I had to set it aside for a moment, but then immediately picked it back up because I needed to know what would happen next.  I think readers in situations that seem hopeless, or greater than they can overcome, would relate to the characters and might be able to see that there are choices they can make and others have it even harder than they do. Adults that work with teens, regardless of if your think of the teens as at risk for abuse or getting involved in dangerous situations, would do well to read the book in order to understand were some teens they encounter could be coming from and to help them recognize who needs their help and inspire them to go an extra mile to help however possible.
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