Book Review: Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin

Lean on Pete: A Novel: Vlautin, Willy: 9780061456534: Books

Title: Lean on Pete

Author: Willy Vlautin

Genre: Literary Fiction

Number of Pages: 304

Rating: A

Recommended?: Yes

Willy Vlautin has quickly become one of my favorite authors. I’ve loved all the books I’ve read by him, and this was no exception. I think Charley in Lean on Pete is my favorite character Vlautin has written. He’s determined and self-sufficient (for a 15-year-old) but painfully vulnerable. When Charley’s dad dies, he’s left alone in a city he’s completely unfamiliar with.

He starts working for a mean SOB named Del, who works with racehorses. When Charley bonds with Del’s run-down racehorse Lean on Pete, he steals Lean on Pete in a desperate attempt to save his life and goes on a cross-country trek to find his aunt. Willy Vlautin’s spare, stripped-down style fits Charley’s youthful voice well, and like his other books this novel has absolutely amazing dialogue. The narrative is somewhat episodic with Charley running into a variety of strange people on his journey.

I loved all their oddball personalities and the different eccentricities they added to the story, although I frequently worried about Charley’s safety. You never forget he’s just a kid, that vulnerability is always there as he gets into a number of risky situations. The only thing I didn’t like about this book was the ambiguity of the ending. I don’t like being left wondering what’s going to happen next when I’m emotionally invested in a story.


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