Out of Patience by Brian Meehl



Out of Patience Out of PatienceBrian Meehl; Delacorte 2006WorldCat

Review by Molly

The narrative opens with twelve-year-old baseball player Jake Waters’ getting beaned with a toilet plunger. That plunger was followed by another, and another. Jake’s stepmother Wanda has had it with Jake’s dad and his obsession with all things toilet. She is leaving; it was Wanda who for good measure heaved the plungers and a heavy wooden toilet seat from the second story window. From that beginning we follow Jake on his quest to leave the little Kansas town Patience. Patience was founded long ago by Jake’s g-g-g- grandfather Jeremiah. Jake’s plumber dad Jim is determined to open the first ATM – (The) American Toilet Museum and put dying Patience back on the map.

From that beginning we follow Jake in his quest to be the first male Waters to escape tiny Patience, Kansas. Buried treasure, cow pies, the nearby manure plant – fertilizer plant, thunderstorms, antique commodes, more toilet plungers, impassioned discussions between neighbors, as well as tornadoes, 8 player workup baseball, the seventh inning stench, toilet, sanitary plumbing, memorabilia collected over the years and the PLUNGER OF DESTINY, the Scepter of Satan, all figure in the tale.

According to local legend the town is cursed: the final destruction of Patience will take place when the Plunger of Destiny is brought back to the town. Jake is horrified to learn that his father has actually ordered the thing from eBay. Jake knows he must stay on his toes – for any signs that he curse is taking place. He doesn’t find a curse, but he does find a real live thief and a situation to cause the EPA shudders.

I enjoyed the subplot threaded through the narrative as Jakes’s ancestor brings the first flush toilet to the town. Outhouses, progression of mechanical equipment, social mores, false notion concerning toilets in general are all intertwined. Jake’s friend Sira, a girl born in Pakistan is fun to read. She loves trivia and is busy memorizing facts, speak a number and she immediately has a fact to go with that year, 1868, 1908, 1932, Sira has something for each one.

Writer Meehl has taken a not oft used subject: toilets and their history, and has woven a fast paced, easily read tale filled with tension, absurdity, an adequate amount of crass situations and events to satisfy the target audience of middle grade readers. Notions of camaraderie, accountability and family trace through the plot without appearing as preachy or overpowering.

A mischievous narrative voice combined with well fleshed settings, convincing characters and keen-witted dialogue move the reader quickly from the opening raining plungers scene to the last page where we find the town recovering from the First Annual Curse of Cass Festival held the day before. All in all Writer Meehl has crafted a fun read sure to appeal to the target audience.

Out of Patience is a must read for the middle grade reader, will be a good addition to the personal reading shelf. Not for everyone, some parents and librarians may be put off by an abundance of manure/toilet humor.

I was the Hobby and Collectibles superintendent for the Kern County Fair, Bakersfield, California for many years, and know full well that for every gizmo, tool or whatsis ever devised there IS a collector who believes it wonderful. I have no doubt that somewhere there is a person collecting toilet memorabilia as we speak. Enjoyed the read; happy to recommend.

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