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Review: Tween Hobo: Off the Rails By Tween Hobo and Alena Smith

Purchase on  Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble

Purchase on Amazon | Barnes and Noble

About the Book

From playwright and TV writer Alena Smith comes a hilarious and irreverent illustrated book based on the popular Twitter feed (@tweenhobo), featuring a young spunky girl who sets out in search of freedom, adventure, and her own personal obsession: Justin Bieber tickets.

Get ready to laugh and learn with the littlest hobo. She’s only twelve years old, but a “hard twelve.” You’ll meet her friends: Stumptown Jim (her weatherbeaten BFFL); Tin Cap Earl (who’s always down to shoot a junkyard haul video); Toothpick Frank (who learns to love Pinterest); Salt Chunk Annie (a “woman of the night,” whatever that means); and Hot Johnny Two-Cakes (who Tween Hobo swears she does NOT have a crush on).

Find out how she survives, thanks in part to strawberry lip gloss. You’ll hear her take on major cultural events (“I go off a fiscal cliff every time I go near a Claire’s”). And you’ll enjoy beautiful hand-rendered illustrations that bring out the beauty in her words—just like how eyeliner makes a hobo’s look really pop.

Often snarky and frequently ridiculous, this imaginative journal-like book includes maps, jokes, laughs, doodles, tips, hobo symbols (“House with a triangle on top means PIZZA PARTY!!!), games, stories, and more. So grab your iPhone and wrap it in a handkerchief, tie it to a stick, and let’s roll! 


This book is a wild ride, pun intended. Tween Hobo is a trip about a girl going on a journey across the United States to find her brother, who's been sent to some sort of juvenile correctional facility. Along the way, us readers experience a whole lot of something. This book is a lot to take in, let me say, but it holds its own and makes for a very unique reading experience.

I think there are a number of very lovely things about this book. I think the voice of Tween Hobo is very strong, unique, and entertaining. She's got a lot on her mind and she's going to say it all. There's a natural flow of the mind throughout her little entries, which lends itself to a weird sort of modern stream of consciousness. It's also the kind of book that reads extremely quickly because of the voice. The words just trip through your mind, easy as pie, and suddenly you're through another fifty pages.

I think it's simply to look at this book and just think that it's some silly little book without anything else. Honestly, though, it is silly, but it does more than the average book tackling this kind of subject matter could do. It's use of drawings, twitter, and other such nonsense is a lovely addition and really keeps the reader gripped and ready to turn the page. Along with that, I think there's a great melding of the old school and the new. The fact that this girl has decided to take trains to find her brother rings of some Beat Generation novel, but we get her, a twelve year old, talking about Justin Bieber. I found it genuinely hilarious.

Overall, this is a quick, easy read that sticks out from the crowd! It's a trip. 

Reviewed by Amy Richardson


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