Can you picture a world in which the government forbids football, requires padding be worn for every outdoor excursion and sends people to prison for being angry? Well, that is the norm for citizens of the United Safer States of America in Pete Hautman’s novel “Rash.”
“Rash” follows a teenager named Bo and his family in the late 21st century. His crazy grandpa can still remember what it was like when people were allowed to play football, drink beer and go outside without a helmet – so it is no wonder the family thinks he’s crazy. The other men in Bo’s family, his father and his brother, are both in jail for anger issues. His father’s crime was road rage. Bo knew it was only a matter of time before he ended up in jail himself.
His chance to go to jail is when he is wrongly accused of causing an infectious epidemic at his high school. Right after his trial, he is sent to Alaska to work for McDonald’s; they haven’t produced fast food in years because it was deemed unsafe by the government. Instead, Bo works on the line making pizzas. “Rash” is a book about using the talents and skills Bo has to survive in his work camp and coming to terms with a safer version of the United States.
Hautman creates lovable and engaging characters throughout the story and manages to surround his safe yet bleak prediction of the future with a humor that cannot be avoided. This is one quick read that should not be missed!