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It's September, the first week of school at John Muir Junior High School, and Paolo has a lot on his mind. He's thinking about finding a place of his own with his brother Georgie and his cousin Billy, running away part-time -- which means they are running away, but still come back home to eat and sleep and read the paper. He's thinking about the upcoming Halloween/All Saints' Day/Mexican Day of the Dead/Chinese Lantern Night carnival, and what booth he, Georgie, and Billy would like to man. He's thinking about Communism and the atom bomb, just like everyone else in Orange Grove, California, in 1951. But most of all, he's thinking about Billy and Veronica, a Chinese girl in his class, who have both become victims of some ofthe community's ignorant but deep-seated ideas about who should be hanging out with whom. And it's this last thought that Paolo, even with Georgie and Billy's help, can't quite figure out.
Suddenly, the boys have a real reason to be running away, and maybe not just part-time.
D. James Smith "joins Richard Peck and Bruce Clements in the select company of latter-day YA writers who can be mentioned in the same sentence as Mark Twain." -- The Washington Post