Books & More from the Teen Scene

Book reviews and other reflections from one of Oregon's young adult librarians

“The Last Great Getaway of the Water Balloon Boys” by Scott William Carter October 31, 2011

Carter, Scott William. The Last Great Getaway of the Water Balloon Boys. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010. 202 pp. ISBN: 9791416971566

Last Great Getaway of the Water Balloon Boys cover

Images courtesy of


Sucked in by an old friend, nerdy, under-the-radar Charlie Hill suddenly find himself on a wild road trip, trying to reconnect with his absent father and face his own worries about the future.


Charlie Hill is having an epically bad day. Somehow, he doesn’t even know how, he is being called out for inviting the prettiest girl in school to the prom – the prettiest girl who happens to be dating the nastiest bully around. Charlie Hill is a grade-A nerd with no hope of getting that date anyway and he knows it, but that won’t stop Leo Gonzalez from ripping his face off. Just as Leo catches him, just as Charlie realizes he is about to become “human pulp,” he is rescued by an old friend. Charlie hasn’t talked to Jake Tucker since they had a falling out over a broken Game Boy in the 4th grade. Yet, here he is, driving a fancy red Mustang recently stolen from the high school principal and offering Charlie a ride and a way out.

“There are moments when your life spins on a wheel, when the choices you make forever change the person you are and the person you will become. I could stay and get pulverized by Leo and his friends, or I could escape in the Mustang only to meet my certain doom later at the hands of Mr. Harkin. Leo’s fist now, or Harkin’s wrath later – which was worse? Looking back, it seems like there might have been other options available to me, but those were the only two roads I could see.

I got in the car.”

That’s how the Water Balloon Boys begin their last great getaway.

Charlie’s choice takes him father than he could ever have imagined – on a wild road trip from Oregon to Denver, face-to-face with his anger at the father who left him, his rejection of Jake, and his disgust with himself. When the road makes its final turn, Charlie is plunged terror, tragedy, and a terrible choice that makes all the difference – for everyone.

Random thought:

This would be a great book to recommend to Victoria, 13. Victoria looks for high-action books. Her favorite book recently was Max Cassidy: Escape from Shadow Island by Paul Adam, which was a really exciting book about a kid who is an escape artist. When his mother goes to jail because they think she killed his father, Max has to run away and follow up on some information he gets that his dad might really be alive. Victoria likes books to be realistic with a lot going on. “If the book is just going along and nothing is really happening, I just stop reading.” I bet she wouldn’t stop reading Scott William Carter’s high-action story!

Awards/Honors (source:

Winner, 2011 OregonBook Award for Young Adult Literature

Bank Street Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2011


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