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Ten Miles from Winnemucca    by Thelma Hatch Wyss order for
Ten Miles from Winnemucca
by Thelma Hatch Wyss
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2004 (2003)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* *   Reviewed by Anise Hollingshead

Marty Miller and his widowed mom have had a pretty good life together so far in Winnemucca, Nevada, or so he believed. Evidently, though, she thought there was something missing, because she has just gotten remarried to Mr. Joe Wonderful from Seattle, Washington. Although not wildly keen on Mr. Wonderful or on having to move to Seattle for his senior year of high school, Marty keeps his misgivings to himself. Unfortunately, right after Mom and Mr. Wonderful depart for a three-month honeymoon, things begin to unravel. When Marty's step-brother throws his belongings out the window, Marty decides he's had enough, piles his stuff in his beloved red Jeep and heads back home. He runs out of money and gas in a small town in Idaho, and pitches camp, literally, in a park.

The remainder of the book is a humorous narrative in Marty's voice about surviving on his own, with only a little money, but a lot of ingenuity. The first thing Marty needs is cash, so he looks for a job. He finds one at a burger joint, whose owner only cares that Marty has the proper identification for legal employment. Then, it's off to the local high school to enroll. Again, Marty runs into a bit of luck with busy, harassed staff who don't ask too many questions. Third, he needs to head off an emergency posse from Seattle and/or Europe (where his mom is honeymooning. Marty calls Mr. Wonderful's housekeeper, tells her he's with relatives and for his mom not to worry. These initial needs taken care of, Marty settles into life in this little town that's not too different from Winnemucca ... except for the fact that he doesn't know anyone. Marty's trials and travails make for humorous reading, and his good-natured outlook, even when bad things happen, makes a pleasant change from novels that paint teens as terminally ill-natured and depressed.

While the basic premise of the story is believable, as is Marty's behaviour, some things are a little far-fetched, especially the fact that his mom accepts his sudden departure to stay with a family of little-known relatives, without checking to see if he's actually there, or why he really left. If this had happened in my family, I would have been on a plane back to Seattle to get to the bottom of things, honeymoon or no. Perhaps it's best to simply accept Marty's mom's naivité, and enjoy the funny mishaps that befall a teen on his own. Ten Miles from Winnemucca is nice, light read that will amuse and entertain.

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