Reviews for 24 Hours in Nowhere

by Dusti Bowling

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

When narrator Gus is rescued from neighborhood bully Bo by the very capable Rossiwho sacrifices her beloved dirt bike, Loretta, in the doingan unlikely adventure in the nearby Dead Frenchman's Mine is triggered. Equipped with a pickle jar of water and some sandwiches, Gus sets off into the mine in search of treasure to buy Loretta back, with the unwanted company of Bo's lackey Matthew. Shortly after, Rossi shows up in the mine with Jessie, Gus' former best friend. (Readers learn early on that Rossi is Native American and Jessie is Mexican-American; Gus and Matthew are implied white.) Naturally, the mine tunnel collapses, leaving them trapped. In a series of narrative contrivances, the four 13-year-olds happen upon discoveries that may lead both to their escape and to the truth behind an old local legend. Even as they struggle to find their wayand amid encounters with a mountain lion, bats, and javelinasthe kids take time to discuss many of the challenges they face in the outside world and among one another. These interludes may strike readers as ill-timed given the danger, but they offer Bowling ample opportunity to play Gus' cluelessness and Matthew's casual malice against Rossi's and Jessie's firsthand familiarity with American racism. Although Gus is careful to point out that Rossi is Tohono O'odham, and later Rossi reveals some factoids about her heritage, his fascination with her dark ponytail and her general inscrutability reinforce stereotypesas does the obviousness of the setup.A tale full of set pieces meant to lead kids to home truths but that might not get them there. (Adventure. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 5-7-Thirteen-year-old Gus is a white boy from Nowhere. Literally. Nowhere, AZ: population depressed, poverty-stricken, and stagnant. Dirt bike racing is the only blip on the town's flat-lining pulse. Gus is smart, but his small size makes him a natural target for Bo, the town bully. When Rossi, a Tohono O'odham girl with a talent for racing, stands up for Gus, she loses her beloved bike to Bo. Gus vows to get it back for her. Bo's terms require Gus to enter a closed mine with a history of collapses and find gold rumored to have been lost decades ago. Gus agrees and is joined by one of Bo's minions, an old friend, and Rossi. Each an outcast in some way, the kids form a bond through their harrowing 24-hour adventure. This allows each to gain strength from the others and push on. Conversations among the young teens reveal Gus's burgeoning awareness of his white privilege as he listens to the experiences of his Latinx and Native American friends. This story features wonderfully funny, surprising characters with witty, realistic dialogue. Friendships are forged, lives are changed, and mysteries are solved. VERDICT Reminiscent of Louis Sachar's Holes with its quirky characters and unique desert setting, this is a middle-grade read that will easily transport readers somewhere special.-Lisa Crandall, formerly at the Capital Area District Library, Holt, MI © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Nowhere, Arizona, is notorious for being the least livable town in the U.S., and it certainly feels that way for 13-year-old Gus. Bullied by a local braggart and stuck living with his grandmother, Gus dreams of escape, namely by leaving for college someday. But in the time between now and then, to repay the girl who saved his butt, he goes searching for the gold that's supposedly buried deep in Dead Frenchman Mine. The ragtag band of misfits that join him calls to mind the gang from The Goonies, and their underground escapades are alternatingly genuinely creepy, hilarious, and thrilling. From describing the sizzling heat to the sticky bat guano in the cave, Bowling tickles all of the senses with her evocative Southwest setting. While not quite as heartwarming as her breakout book, Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus (2017), her latest is nevertheless an enjoyable adventure with a well-balanced and diverse supporting cast of characters. Sure to resonate with any kid who's felt misplaced in their inherited surroundings.--Jennifer Barnes Copyright 2018 Booklist