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The Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson
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The Prince of Venice Beach (edition 2014)

by Blake Nelson

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945190,125 (4.04)1
Member:cbritt29
Title:The Prince of Venice Beach
Authors:Blake Nelson
Info:Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (2014), Hardcover, 240 pages
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The Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson

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Robert “Cali” Callahan is a 17-year-old runaway from Nebraska who’s made Venice Beach his home for the past three years. He has it better than most street kids. He has a tree house to sleep in, friends on the boardwalk, and plenty of time for skateboarding, surfing and basketball. But when he begins cashing in on his natural talent for finding people, his life suddenly gets more complicated. Cali helps locate a recent runaway and later, a local homeless man, and sees an opportunity to parlay his success into a career. Soon, however, his conscience begins guilting him into questioning the motives of those who’ve hired him to find the missing--especially since the missing might not want to be found. Take his latest case: beautiful and wealthy Reese Abernathy. Is she really the troubled daughter or is her father a murderer?

As the narrator of The Prince of Venice Beach, Cali has an authentically young, and surprisingly naïve, voice. His caring demeanor and offbeat charm make him a likable character and while he talks about the dangers of “living rough” and runs into a few fists along the way, it’s violence with a light touch. (If you’re looking for a realistically grim portrayal of life on the streets, then read Smack by Melvin Burgess.) The Prince of Venice Beach is more a mystery novel peppered with colorful people in a distinctive location. Cali is a rather laid back “detective” with good intentions and better friends. He reminded me of a teenaged Magnum P.I. , minus the glamour and expensive toys. The straightforward narrative and narrow focus make the Prince of Venice Beach a quick read, perfect for your own day of sand, surf and sun.
( )
  lillibrary | Jan 23, 2016 |
Robert "Cali" Callahan has been given an apt nickname by his street friends. Cali, now seventeen, has been living in Venus Beach, California, since running away from a Nebraska foster care home at age fourteen. He's lucky enough not to be sleeping on the streets because he resides in a treehouse in the backyard of a do-gooder named, Hope, who had taken pity on him and now even allows Cali indoors to use her computer and bathroom. He sometimes even gets invited to meals, though not breakfast since it's usually an orange from a supply Cali keeps in his tree abode. Hope's open-door lifestyle gives her many women's club type connections that results in a friendship for Cali with a nerdy girl, Ailis, who's near his age.

Yet Cali doesn't lack friends, actually, he has a whole network of likeable street contacts. He plays street basketball with two, Diego and Jojo, and it appears that folks come from all over to play B-ball on Venus Beach's street courts. It's where the story opens, and where Cali afterwards is contacted by a private investigator, Edwards, needing help in finding a missing person. A detective cop, Darius Howard, recommended street-smart Cali to the PI since Cali had once been helpful in finding two bicycle thieves. Soon, the reader is traveling with Cali, hanging where the chessboard players go, wheeling all through the streets on his skateboard (after all this is California), and cruising the boardwalk in pursuit of more than one missing person. Cali earns a little money and believes the PI life is for him. Ailis, nerdy computer wiz that she is, offers to help Cali and they become partners. Sort of. Ailis also encourages Cali to take GED classes. Cali wants to stay off the grid and not risk landing back in foster care, but he's wise enough to see that he needs more knowledge to do a PI's job and takes classes. Things get complicated when, after finding one runaway girl, Reese Abernathy, Cali becomes smitten with her. She claims to have good reason for being on the run and only wants to disappear. And so Cali faces a moral dilemma.

Cali's story advances with as much agility as a buzzing-by California skateboarder. With more than one neatly disguised red herring, plus plenty of action, the reader doesn't even recognize the decoys until after reading the final page of this well-paced YA novel. ( )
  PaperDollLady | Mar 4, 2015 |
The latest from contemporary YA powerhouse Blake Nelson is so filled with joy and voice that it's impossible to put down. And I say joy not because it's necessarily a happy story -- some pretty messed up stuff happens in THE PRINCE OF VENICE BEACH. After all, it's about a homeless teen and his street kid pals, solving mysteries and trying to stay out of trouble. The joy comes from Cali, the aforementioned homeless teen, who is perhaps slightly less homeless than usual, since he's taken up residence in a kindly woman's tree house. Cali left home to find a new life. And he has. And he's happy. Especially when word gets out that he knows everyone and everything that happens on Venice Beach, and the local police want him to help in investigations.

It's not long before Cali's reputation gets him involved with private investigators, inspiring him to become a PI himself, and maybe even get his GED. But, he thing is, the PI's he works with don't always tell him what's up with the people they're looking for. He thinks he's doing a good thing, but he isn't so sure when he's asked to track down a runaway girl -- a beautiful girl, who doesn't want to be found, ever, and for possibly good reasons. Cali has to decide what's more important -- his being a PI or this girl's wishes. And he has to figure out if this girl is even telling him the truth.

Blake Nelson's characters are genuine, as gritty and real as the streets they call home. Cali's story manages to shine a light on some of this grit, and find heart-warming truths in these "throwaway" kids -- kids like traumatized, sweet Strawberry and the basketball prodigies with whom Cali spends his afternoons. THE PRINCE OF VENICE BEACH is beautifully written, a great summer read, and a great book for those who'd like to see a little more sand and sun in their noir. ( )
  EKAnderson | Aug 26, 2014 |
Cali ran away from home in Nebraska and has been living on Venice Beach for a few years. The police and private investigators have realized that he is a resource, and he picks up cash helping them find people. Not all people, however, want to be found and Cali must decide who he wants to help and how. ( )
  lilibrarian | Jun 30, 2014 |
(YALSA message board rec)
  RebelPrintz | Jun 24, 2014 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316230480, Hardcover)

Robert "'Cali" Callahan is a teen runaway, living on the streets of Venice Beach, California. He's got a pretty sweet life: a treehouse to sleep in, a gang of surf bros, a regular basketball game...even a girl who's maybe-sorta interested in him.

What he doesn't have is a plan.

All that changes when a local cop refers Cali to a private investigator who is looking for a missing teenager. After all, Cali knows everyone in Venice. But the streets are filled with people who don't want to be found, and when he's hired to find the beautiful Reese Abernathy, who would do anything to stay hidden, Cali must decide where his loyalties truly lie.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:22 -0400)

Robert "Cali" Callahan, seventeen, gets swept up into the private-investigator business and must deal with the ramifications of looking for fellow runaways who may not want to be found--and with falling in love with one of them.

(summary from another edition)

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