Kids these days.
That’s pretty much what Chuck Wendig’s Shotgun Gravy is all about. Kids these days can be crude, mean, unforgiving and downright sadistic. Bullying is every bit as bad as it’s ever been, and there comes a time when a kid needs to do more than watch videos of people saying “It gets better.” Atlanta Burns, for instance, wants to make things better right the hell now.
To say Atlanta is an atypical young adult heroine would be an understatement. She’s a scrapper, to be sure, but she’s a practical and frighteningly smart one. She’s utterly intolerant of the intolerant around her, and being that she’s growing up in the middle of Pennsylvania where bigotry and prejudice and small-mindedness are rampant, she’s got plenty of intolerance to deal with. She’s also withdrawn and sullen, that girl with issues nobody really wants to talk to. In other words, she’s deep, compelling, and absolutely fantastic.
Shotgun Gravy screws your courage to the sticking-place for you. It really doesn’t give you any other options. It’s a tense read, crackling with nervous energy and dread anticipation of what will happen next. As much as we might like seeing Atlanta fight back, the more she does, the more unpleasantness she uncovers. While the story is self-contained and satisfying, we know this isn’t the end. This is just the beginning.
Kids don’t always want to talk about things that happen to them or that they see happen over the course of a day. Plenty of events in a typical schoolyard can shock or frighten a kid into silence. When parents are ignorant and teachers do nothing, it falls to the kids to take matters in their own hands, policing their own as it were. This among other things is what you’ll see happening in Shotgun Gravy, and I highly recommend it, for teenagers and adults alike.