McClintock, Norah. Snitch. Orca, 2005. ISBN 978-1551434841 128 pp. $
If his former friend Scott hadn’t tattled on him, Josh wouldn’t be on his last chance to turn his life around, living with his brother Andrew, wife Miranda and nephew Digby in a cramped apartment. Beating up Scott for ratting him out landed Josh in a program to train dogs while learning anger management. In spite of venting in a group therapy session and keeping his nose to the grindstone, trouble continues to find Josh as he breaks Miranda’s favorite mug and has multiple run ins both with puppy-kicking bully Travis. When Scott gets beaten up again, and one of Josh’s personal belongings are found at the scene of the crime, all evidence points to him, but he knows who the guilty party really is. Will he tell?
Josh’s frustration is palpable as he slowly progresses, with a few setbacks. He learns the right lessons along the way, such as trust needs to be earned, that impressions can be changed with patience and kindness, and that sometimes snitching on someone is warranted. Supporting adults are drawn realistically as flawed characters, and somehow McClintock finds room to drop relevant details about Josh & Andrew’s own turbulent upbringing that are very relevant to the situation at hand. Action and character development are nicely balanced in this well-paced novel about a kid in trouble who is still worth saving.