OF FOSTER HOMES AND FLIES by Chad Lutzke (Scary Carpet)
Sometimes things happen that will throw a boy’s life into chaos. When these things include your surviving parent passing away unexpectedly, a boy may be forced to make decisions that he is not qualified for, no matter how mature they think they are.
In Chad Lutzke’s, OF FOSTER HOMES AND FLIES, we are swept into the life of twelve year old Denny with his desire to win the local spelling bee, no matter what. The only problem is that his mother has died and Denny can’t tell anyone out of fear of missing his shot to do the one thing he is good at. Spell.
Lutzke writes a darkly tinted coming of age tale that is full of emotion. Sadness, fear, and uncertainty abound. Denny is a well imagined character with real thoughts and enough character development for readers to easily feel sorry for him as he tries to keep his mother’s death a secret in the heat of a New Orleans summer and Lutzke avoids the traps that could easily turn this story into a dark comedy.
Reminiscent of McCammon’s A BOYS LIFE and James Newman’s MIDNIGHT RAIN, OF FOSTER HOMES AND FLIES will transplant readers into the story, gently pushing them toward the true horrors contained within. You won’t find any monsters or serial killers splattering blood all over the walls. No eviscerations. What you will find is the quiet type of horror that penetrates slow and deep, takes you in its arms and cuddles to the point of suffocation.
Growing up can be awkward for many kids, and Lutzke paints a vivid world full of horrible consequences that only a child can imagine. Denny’s tale of grief and personal battle for redemption are perfectly balanced and as you read this story, you too will realize that this story could have very well been taken from a news story that you scroll by every day on social media.
Be sure to pick this up if you are drawn to well-voiced coming of age tales that have a quiet horror brooding in the background. It’s the kind of book you will return to in the future, no matter how many flies are buzzing around. That’s what fly swatters are made for, after all. (Cory Cline)