Blue Car Racer tells the story of fourteen-year-old Colin Dirk, a boy who wants to leave rural Montana behind and never look back. If it weren’t enough that he lost his father in the Gulf War, he also has to deal with bullies constantly harassing him at school. His mother is worried that he doesn’t have any friends, but she seems more interested in dating his late father’s best friend.
It’s freshman year at Arthur J. Arborson High, and things couldn’t get much worse for Colin. The resident bully Aaron Kinkirk has been picking on him since grade school. Colin’s only means of escape is keeping to himself by hiding under an old hunter’s cap and playing with a blue Matchbox race car his father gave him before leaving for Iraq. But this time, Colin can’t just drive away from his problems. Everything is about to change.
Enter Eric Russell, a former friend of Aaron who begins to stick up for Colin. Colin is skeptical about Eric’s motives at first, but he soon finds that they have a lot in common and it isn’t long before the two become best friends. This doesn’t sit too well with Aaron, though since Colin now has someone to protect him, he doesn’t mind so much. He even begins to come out of his shell a bit.
But when Eric entrusts him with a dark secret, Colin soon finds himself in a bitter struggle between two very difficult choices. Will he continue grasping at the threads of his withering childhood, or will he be able to grow up and learn to stand strong on his own?
“Few YA novels manage to convey an adult sense of the contradictions of the real world while remaining grounded in a teenage sensibility, but this manuscript accomplishes this delicate feat with skill and plausibility.” – Publishers Weekly*
*(PW is an independent organization. This review was written for a manuscript version of the book for the 2012 ABNA contest.)