Van Draanen, Wendelin. Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief. NY: Knopf,
1998. Sammy Keyes and the Search for Snake Eyes. NY: Knopf, 2002.
narrator: first-person, Sammy
Van Draanen is quickly becoming one of my fav YA authors. She works at creating strong female characters, and Sammy Keyes has already become my 21st century Nancy Drew. I was wondering when someone would come along and create a modern sleuth. But Van Draanen adds a lot of social insights, too. So Sammy has been dumped by her would-be actress mom on Grams, who allows Sammy to live with her in the Senior Hotel. Sammy has to keep all her stuff in the bottom drawer of her Grams’ dresser, because no one can know that she’s living there.
The friendship between Sammy and Marissa is also a focal point. Van Draanen offers plenty of conflict: between Grams and Sammy, Sammy and Marissa, Heather Acosta and the rest of the world.
In Sammy Keyes and the Search for Snake Eyes, Van Draanen takes on the subjects of gangs and teen pregnancy. Mexican American gangs in So. Cal. get represented through several characters in a fairly complex way. Dealing with bullying also is a part of the two books I read. I’m ready for the rest of the series, but I’ll put those off for treats along the way. After reading The Search for Snake Eyes, I find myself thinking about the issues, so Van Draanen accomplishes what I think good books do — she gives us a great read while making us think.