Travis Walker in finishing up with his senior year of high School – again, and running into some problems.
After his father goes to prison for robbing a convenience store, Travis is left to take care of his mother who has fallen into a physical and mental funk and does nothing more than stay in their dingy apartment and sleep. Dutifully, 19-year-old Travis, does his best to go to school and work part time to make payments on the delinquent rent, while still struggling to be a normal young adult by going to a local club with his friend D.J. and bedding attractive women. But Travis’ efforts to stay in school and support his family prove to be too much and Travis drops out of school so he can work more hours.
Things seem to take a turn for the better when Travis meets Zoey and works at a community center in exchange for food, and might have found an alternative to his mother becoming homeless. Also, after he takes an active role in helping at the scene of a car accident, firefighters invite him to join a special program for aspiring firefighters. But, it’s only for High School students – and anyway, he’s on the verge of being homeless.
Travis Walker is a likeable protagonist, who uses his good looks to win people over, but ultimately shines because of his loyalty and respect for his mother, and his undying work ethic, pride and resilience. Author Anne Pfeffer effectively captures Travis burdened with adult responsibilities and hardships; a young man who must decide between spending a tiny portion of money on clubbing with his friend rather than paying a bill or buying food. Pfeffer brings out the intricacies of Travis’ personality and the difficulties he faces through the myriad of emotions that Travis experiences as he struggles to keep his life together; from the shame that his poverty will be discovered, to the uneasiness that he will be homeless, to the fear that he will become his criminal father. These emotions are contrasted to the sense of fulfillment Travis feels when he is working and the joy he feels as he finds himself attracted to Zoey in more than just a carnal way.
Travis’ language and descriptions are appealing in their simple honesty that captures his sweet youthfulness, “I liked this girl. A lot. I liked her super-moist double chocolate chip cupcakes”; and his vulnerability, “I reached for a different subject – any subject other than poor, poor Travis and his shitty little life.”
GIRLS LOVE TRAVIS WALKER, with its short chapters, gives an edgy glimpse into the real hardships of some students and conveys the precariousness of life and how fate can cause upheaval. The protagonist reveals how personal convictions, morale and actions can also steer the course for change, as Travis’ continued fortitude and proactive spirit ultimately save his mother and changes his life for the better.
GIRLS LOVE TRAVIS WALKER is an absorbing and enlightening story about a young adult struggling to lead a normal life as he teeters on edge of poverty and homelessness.
Reviewed by Maya Fleischmann for IndieReader