by Kevin Colden
In Fishtown, Kevin Colden gives us a chilling and believable portrait of bored, remorseless teenagers who have been involved in the murder of one of their peers.
The kids, a trio of drug-addled boys and a manipulative girl, have pretty lost little lives. They argue with their parents or adoptive uncles, and take whatever substances they can find. When the girl comes up with the idea of robbing a high school dropout their age, everyone happily goes along with the plan, even when the suggestion is made that they kill the guy to escape being identified.
Colden tells the story from the perspective of the kids after they have been caught and incarcerated. It's not always clear if they are speaking to a cop, a lawyer, or a therapist, and it doesn't really matter, as they seem more than happy to explain what happened.
Stories like this are sadly not uncommon - it wasn't that long ago that we heard of a couple of kids who killed a tourist for something to do, and Colden's portrayal of the kids feels very real. The girl argues with her mother, and flies into a rage that she doesn't believe her, despite the fact that she's lying. They seem to believe that a score of $500, split four ways, is all they'll need to lead themselves to a better life.
Colden's monochromatic pencils do a terrific job of capturing the slow decay of the parts of Philadelphia that have passed their prime, although he could be drawing any mid-sized American city. The bleakness of this book lingers and sticks with you.