Last week, I came across a group of pre-teen boys at a local deli. They were begging the owner for some free soda. Pleading for soda!! They said they were broke and would pay the owner back later. I thought to myself, "It will be 10 years before they truly know what the word BROKE means." If they had to, would they know how to survive on their own? What do they know about the world? Which leads me to my latest review, Nickel Plated by Aric Davis.
The title character, Nickel, is a very resourceful 12-year-old boy. We don't even know his real name. Nickel is an acronym he picked up after his turbulent time in foster care, which included sexual abuse. Nickel once had a foster father he could look up to, but his death was the end of anything good in his life. Leaving foster care and adult supervision behind, Nickel finds ways to survive. Years of abuse have left Nickel with a thick skin, making his actions seem more like that of an adult.
He blackmails would-be pedophiles, sells marijuana and offers his services as a private investigator. He develops the financial freedom that even some adults don't have. Nickel even manages to rent a house. He has allies in a local gym owner and several other adults who ignore Nickel's lack of parental supervision. This is where I have slight problem. How long could a child really do this without raising eyebrows? How many 12-year-olds would have the ingenuity to trap pedophiles on the internet and then scam them out of money? Of course this 12-year-old is a special one.
However, Nickel does have a soft spot for fellow children. Nickel is instantly smitten by Arrow, a local high school girl. Her sister is missing and feared dead. Arrow seeks Nickel's help, fearing the police won't find her sister. It is Nickel's interactions with Arrow that remind me he truly was a child. He wishes he was her boyfriend, even going so far as to imagine a future together. I'm sure most pre-teen boys have fantasies like this. Arrow's beauty manages to crack Nickel's hardened shell.
The conclusion is filled with violence, including dodging bullets. While there are moments in the book that are a stretch of the imagination, Nickel is definitely an interesting character. He experiences moments of fear, but doesn't show it. He is more resourceful than most adults. The end will leave you hopeful for his future. I wonder what's in his future?