Book Review: Small Steps by Louis Sachar

Posted May 17, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Misc. / 6 Comments

Book Review: Small Steps by Louis Sachar

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Small Steps by Louis Sachar
Genres: Fiction
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on January 10, 2006
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

Buy on Amazon
Also by this author: Holes

Second in the Holes realistic fiction series and revolving around Theodore Johnson — we knew him as Armpit. It’s been two years since Holes, 1.

In 2007, Small Steps won the Schneider Family Book Award for Teen Book.

My Take

This’ll get your dander up when you read how Armpit was railroaded! Where the heck is justice in this world!!

I will say Sachar went off in an unexpected direction, and I’m loving it. It’s so positive and upbeat, in spite of the setbacks. Instead it’s an opportunity for Theodore to grow and to demonstrate the positives of life. It’s those small steps Theodore plans to follow that give me heart…and Theodore goals. Okay, yeah, it’s sad as well. It’s part of what makes this seemingly simple story more complex as it reflects life.

I absolutely LOVE the relationship Theodore has with Ginny. They’re so good for each other; it’s definitely a mutually beneficial relationship, especially at that crucial moment, lol. As for what Theodore tells Ginny about her father’s disability…yep, I’m in love with that boy!

Sachar doesn’t take long to insert the tension with all that hype about tickets and selling out. That damned X-Ray! It’s the disaster of X-Ray and his mega plans that topple Theodore and put him up at the top. I can’t help it. I know X-Ray means well, but I just wanna smack him. Him and that sleazebag. Then there’s Theodore’s loyalty to his friends.

I know, I know, this is twisted, but I thought it was cute that Ginny has assigned disabilities to all of her stuffed animals. It also made my heart cry.

“‘Does Coo have a disability?’ he asked.

‘Leukemia,’ Ginny whispered. ‘But we don’t talk about it.'”

It’s a sad look at the life of a teen rock star, and how she’s abused. Made all the more interesting with that third-person dual point-of-view from Theodore’s and Kaira’s perspectives. Theodore has his thoughts about his life, about what’s happening around him while Kaira also has her thoughts, and her stepfather is pretty high up in them.

The Story

Two years after Camp Green Lake, Armpit is home in Austin. With a record, everyone expects the worst except his sweet, disabled neighbor, Ginny.

It’s all about the small steps on the right path until X-Ray gets that get-rich-quick idea. It could work, except for how the attraction of teen pop sensation Kaira DeLeon spins his life out of control.

Doing the right thing is never a wrong choice, but a small step in the right direction.

The Characters

Armpit, er, I mean, Theodore Johnson, is a former inmate of Camp Green Lake Juvenile Correctional Facility. His father works as a meter reader for the electric company and a dispatcher for a taxi service at night. His mother works at a supermarket. His older sister is married and in Houston. An older brother is serving time in Huntsville.

The ten-year-old Ginny McDonald has cerebral palsy. Her mother appreciates Theodore. Coo is Ginny’s stuffed bunny.

The ambitious X-Ray, a.k.a., Rex Alvi Washburn, had been one of the inmates with Theodore. Felix and Moses are “entrepreneurs”. Murdock runs a cafe, Smokestack Lightnin’. Wiley is one of his customers. Detective Debbie Newberg is with the Austin Police Department.

Kaira DeLeon, a.k.a., Kathy Spears, is a seventeen-year-old singing sensation. Fred is her doofus of a bodyguard. Jerome “El Genius” Paisley is her business agent, manager, and stepfather. Her real father had been John Spears. Tim B is the lead guitarist. Duncan is the bass player. Cotton plays drums. Billy Goat, a.k.a., Gotlieb, is on keyboard. Aileen manages the accounts. Rosemary does hair. David works backstage, Terry is the soundboard operator. Polly is her psychiatrist.

Tatiana (a girl Theodore likes), Claire (and Roxanne is a friend of theirs), and Robbie Kincaid are in Theodore’s speech class, taught by Coach Simmons. Mr. Warren teaches economics; Matt Kapok is in the class. Mrs. Randsinkle had been Ginny’s art teacher last year.

Raincreek Irrigation and Landscaping is…
…where Theodore now works. Jack Dunlevy is Theodore’s boss. Cherry Lane, the mayor of Austin, is one of their clients.

Billy Boy is writing threatening letters. Denise Linaria plans to go to Costa Rica. Nancy Young is in charge of guest relations at the hotel in San Francisco. Stanley Yelnats‘ dad has invented Sploosh. Donnell, Cole, and Sharese are part of Theodore’s old gang.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a deep eggplant purple with a grouping of raised footsteps in different textures of greens, turquoise, brown, and red. Four are close together while the fifth is taking a bigger step. One that lands between the words of the title, as small as those steps, centered on the cover in white. The author’s name is a vivid coral at the top with an information blurb below it in white.

The title is Theodore’s philosophy toward life, taking Small Steps forward.

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6 responses to “Book Review: Small Steps by Louis Sachar

  1. I loved Holes and my daughter is nearing the age to read it herself. I had no idea there was a spin-off about Armpit! It sounds great, I’ll be checking it out with my daughter soon đŸ˜€

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