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The Traz by Eileen Schuh

The Traz - Eileen Schuh

I was torn on how to rate this book. Going into it, I knew it had to do with a young, orphaned girl who ended up in a gang. Not exactly my "normal" read, but I will pop my head out of my usual genres every now and then. I thought Schuh did a great job with world-building and character development. Other than one particular gang member or two, I didn't believe any one character was either all bad or all good-which makes for much more believable reading. The protagonist, Katrina, is introduced to us at a very young age and we see a bit of her home life. Really-a lack thereof. Her mom stays drunk all day and her father works. The reader is told and shown she's book smart. Though, in her personal choices, her IQ could be argued since she makes decisions such as hanging out at a rough bar during her preteen years and "dating" a teenage drug dealer. I can accept this as a coping strategy for a crappy life though. Although, at this time in the novel, things are about as good as her childhood gets. Along with a grandparent, she also loses both her parents. When she doesn't make a connection with her guardians, she leaves. Katrina is 13 when she ends up being picked up by a biker named Shrug and taken back to a compound to live with his gang. Well, technically, he's not a gang member as much as he's an undercover cop. In retrospect, this is probably the hardest thing for me to accept in the novel. I cannot imagine a cop aiding a child to run away and live with a gang. There are things about Katrina's personality that I didn't necessarily agree with-like how she treated her guardians when she called them up after having been gone for a while and threw a tantrum on the phone and threatened to get them in trouble if they didn't give her money- but in reality, she WAS a child. And a child trying to deal with growing up all on her own. There are a few more passages where she grated my patience as well, but I don't want to give big spoilers. I also have to admit to having my shoulders hunched most of the time I read this. I was waiting for it. Just waiting for the sexual behavior to begin. By the end of the book, she's 14, and I was still reading through squinted eyelids, just biding the time. I released a long sigh of relief when nothing of note really happened to make me that uneasy, but the recipe for disaster was there. Young girl, shady bikers, her wanting to belong to the gang. Thankfully, no, it didn't happen. But her one-sided (I think) romantic interest is a heck of a lot older than she is at the end of the book. I still kind of feel like I'm balancing on a wire of skeeviness. While some of the subject matter left me personally feeling uncomfortable, Schuh is clearly a talented author. The Traz was excellently paced and held my interest throughout