Title: The Goats
Author: Brock Cole
Genre: Classic YA Fiction
Number of Pages: 192
I think after reading The Facts Speak for Themselves (a really bleak and depressing novel about sexual abuse) and hearing about this book being banned, I expected it to be a lot darker than it actually was. This was really a lovely little story about childhood cruelties and characters trying to find a sense of connection in a difficult and frustrating time in their lives.
Two kids, Laura and Howie, get stripped naked and left on an island by fellow campers. Humiliated and angry, they run away and try living on their own. The kids are trying so hard to remain innocent in a world that seems intent on taking that away from them. It’s also extremely relevant in that it shows how adults tend to minimalize and condone bullying.
The way the camp instructor plays down Howie and Laura’s humiliation to Laura’s mother felt painfully real. There is some sexual content in this book that got it banned (thirteen-year-old Laura’s pubic hair is described in one scene after she’s stripped, in a matter of fact and non-sexual way) and even though the main characters are adolescents this book might be better for older teens.
The kids’ friendship is super cute, but they inhabit a world that is not always kind or supportive of their differences. The writing is literary while still be succinct and the characters are well-drawn and possess a strong authenticity. It’s an important and timeless story about empathy and the painful indignities of growing up.