Confession: I have a bit of a soft spot for boys who are a little (or a lot) rough around the edges. And obviously, I'm talking strictly when it comes to books... I can think back as far as reading [b:The Outsiders|231804|The Outsiders|S.E. Hinton|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1314327508s/231804.jpg|1426690] in school and as recently as [b:The Knife of Never Letting Go|2118745|The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, #1)|Patrick Ness|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1277071696s/2118745.jpg|2124180], which I read this year. In The Twelve-Fingered Boy I was introduced to Shreve and Jack, two boys serving out sentences in juvie, but our heroes nonetheless. The book was gritty and woven together with a depressing sort of realism. "We're born into pain," Shreve tells us a few times throughout the book, "and we leave in pain, and we cause it along the way too, it seems. It's a damned hard lesson." Shreve Cannon has a pretty good set-up in juvie. He has a routine. He knows his place and has a lay of the land. Things change when he meets his new roommate Jack who has, no surprise here, twelve fingers. What the two boys learn, though, is that what makes Jack special goes a little beyond just his fingers. Overall, the story is really bolstered by Mr. Jacobs writing-style. He consistently maintains Shreve's voice: conversational, sarcastic, world weary and still boyish. All the deep life observations come in short sentences, limited descriptions and rely on imagery you'd expect from a 15 year old. It was nicely done and in all, very easy to read. Thinking about the plot now gives me the distinct impression of this story being a snapshot. It very specifically targets a time frame and tells us what happened during those weeks. The past and future are referenced but the plot is mostly independent from them. Things happen, like a game of Wiffle Ball, and it really does very little to advance the narrative. It's there because it happened, and we're faithfully following these boys on their journey. Also, this book reads so quickly. I was reading a digital ARC version and the formatting was a little off, so I'm not sure how many pages are in this book, but it seems short. Those two things together created the one down side to this book. I'm not sure how to explain it exactly, but it perhaps didn't take itself seriously enough. There were some very dark plot developments but they were handled so quickly and at an arms length. It felt a little cartoonish at points and not as grave as it should be. This is especially true of our main villain, Mr. Quincrux. He probably has a mustache he twirls every night. On the other hand, the book read so quickly that it there left very little time to be anything other than entertained. Thinking of my reader friends, I can imagine a few of them grading this a little bit below what I've given it, but I can't imagine any of them regretting picking this up.