Thanks to Netgalley for letting me read and review this book! I read Dear Martin when it came out and really loved it. I was just heartbroken over the story, though. I tried to read Odd One Out, but there was so much teenage slang in it that my brain was working too hard to decipher. I’m not a teenager, nor am I around teenagers in any capacity, so their slang just is a struggle for me. That’s not a knock against the book in any way. I’m not the target audience and that’s fine. From what I’ve heard, Odd One Out is a great book and very supportive of LGBTQ teens, which I will always get behind. But when I saw Clean Getaway on Netgalley, I read the summary and knew I wanted to read this one. I love middle-grade YA for its excellent blend of serious themes with a little levity. And this one didn’t disappoint.
William “Scoob” Lamar is struggling in school. He’s super smart, but he is a bit too clever for his own good and gets into some trouble. While suspended, his grandma, who he calls G’ma, decides they need to take a road trip. She has sold her house and bought an RV, so the two of them head out. G’ma is white, and Scoob is black, so traveling through the south is difficult, even today.
As they travel, Scoob learns more and more about his grandmother, long-dead grandfather, his absent mother, and his strict father (his G’ma’s son). G’ma gives him the Green Book she and G’pa used as they traveled through the south back in the 60s. She introduces Scoob to various important landmarks in the Civil Rights Movement, as well.
But things take a turn when G’ma starts calling Scoob Jimmy, his grandfather’s name. Scoob realizes that maybe things aren’t quite what they seem between him and G’ma. She seems okay most of the time, but she forgets things, refuses to let him talk to his dad, going so far as to throw away her phone, and as they continue to travel through the south, Scoob becomes more suspicious and nervous, but he is torn because G’ma is his favorite person.
This book is great for middle school-aged kids. It presents some critical history of the Civil Rights Movement in an understated way that is a bit easier to swallow than Dear Martin, which tackles some equally important race issues in our society, but in a more heartwrenching way. Clean Getaway is more approachable and opens the door to the subjects such as Medgar Evers, Dr. King, and the church bombing that killed four little girls. Scoob is a great young man, who is struggling in his world as a black boy living with expectations of a white society and a dad who is fully aware of said white society. I highly recommend this for middle school kids and their parents to help kick start a conversation about the past and how it shapes our world today.