Cover of Killing Time in Crystal City by Chris Lynch. A closeup of a boy's arm in a cast, with the title written on it in marker

About the Book

Title: Killing Time in Crystal City
Published: 2015

Cover Story: A Farewell to Arms
Drinking Buddy: Drink to Forget
Testosterone Level: Epic
Talky Talk: Vague…
Bonus Factor: Shocking Twists
Bromance Status: Vacation Bud

Cover Story: A Farewell to Arms

No fewer than three major characters have arm casts in this book, so it makes sense. And the book title written on the plaster was a nice touch.

The Deal:

Kevin is sick of the way his father treats him, but the broken arm was the last straw. Kevin hops on a bus and heads to Crystal City and his estranged Uncle Sydney. He abandons the name Kevin and starts calling himself Kiki Vandeweghe. And when the bus ride puts him in contact with fellow runaways Stacey and Molly–who also have casts on their arms–it seems like fate.

Can Kevin start all over in Crystal City? Just what is he running from?

Drinking Buddy: Drink to Forget

Two pints of beer cheersing

Kevin is relatable. Which of us, as teenagers, hadn’t considered just running off…then they’ll be sorry. Then they’ll wish they’d treated us better.

Kevin seems to be the poster boy for an abused and neglected child. He lived with his divorced father until things got too intense and he wound up with broken bones.  His father is the high school principal. How could someone in such a position do that to his son? There’s no way he could justify that.


Testosterone Level: Epic

So Kevin moves in with Uncle Syd, who detests Kevin’s father (his brother). Syd is a man’s man, a great cook, a guy who tells it like it is. He has to go out of town on business, but trusts his nephew with his house.

Oh, and he deals in stolen cars. What’re you gonna do?

And then there’s Kevin’s two new best friends. Stacey is morose and vague about her past, though takes a shine to Kevin and his nerdy attempts to befriend her. Molly is a local homeless girl, maybe less cute and worldly, but very religious. In fact, she’ll give you a religious experience if you talk Jesus to her.

Kevin realizes that both these girls have been hurt, and he wants to do right by them. At the same time, they both stop by Uncle Syd’s place to do laundry and shower. Kevin is invited to help them with both tasks.

It would be so wrong…and SOOOO right.

Talky Talk: Vague…

We’re never told where Crystal City is or what city Kevin came from, not even the state. It’s kind of a magical town, a purgatory where Kevin can chill while he gets his life back together.

Does he want to stay here, continue to hang out with the homeless beach bums who befriend him, and maybe go into business with Uncle Syd? Or should he go back home to Ass Bucket and face his demons?

Kevin’s not a big decision maker, and there were times when I just wanted to shout ‘shit or get off the pot!’ Most of the stuff that happens in this book happens to Kevin, not because of him.

Still, it’s a short read and the characters are engaging. And my God, the action goes up to eleven in the final chapters.

Bonus Factor: Shocking Twists

A yellow road sign that says "plot twist ahead"

So why do all these rough characters at the beach want to hang out with middle-class Kevin?

What, exactly, happened between Kevin and his best friend Jasper on the night he left town?

And are we getting the whole truth about Kevin’s busted arm?

A young Gates McFadden reads the National Enquirer

Enquiring minds want to know!

Bromance Status: Vacation Bud

It was fun hanging out with you this summer, but you’ve got to get back to the library and I’ve got to move on. I’ll say I’ll be by to check you out again, and we’ll both pretend that’s true.

FTC Full Disclosure: Got a free copy from the publisher. Actually, Sarah got the free copy and mailed it to me. And now it’s going to be a high school library book. No money exchanged hands.

Brian wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.