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The Prince of Venice Beach
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The Prince of Venice Beach

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  427 ratings  ·  86 reviews
Robert "'Cali" Callahan is a teen runaway, living on the streets of Venice Beach, California. He's got a pretty sweet life: a treehouse to sleep in, a gang of surf bros, a regular basketball game...even a girl who's maybe-sorta interested in him.
What he doesn't have is a plan.
All that changes when a local cop refers Cali to a private investigator who is looking for a missi
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published June 3rd 2014 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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This is not a good book. This is a very, very terrible book. I honestly really hate it. Not only is it poorly written and unrealistic, it’s horrifyingly sexist. I don’t know who thought publishing The Prince of Venice Beach was a good idea, but I honestly question their judgment. This book was just awful, with not a single redeeming quality.

First off, let’s just discuss our main character, Cali, and his situation. He’s 17, and he ran away from his foster home in Nebraska to come to LA when he wa
I thought this book was a good read. I liked how the main character, Robert aka Cali, developed throughout the novel. I also enjoyed meeting his friends Jojo, Diego, Jax, Ailis, and Strawberry. The only character that bothered me was Reese Abernathy, the runaway whom Cali falls for. I wish her character was better developed. After reading the novel, I understand why Cali was given the nickname "The Prince of Venice Beach." Like a prince in shining armor, or in this case, like a prince riding a s ...more
Super enjoyable, fast-paced story about a "boy detective." It's not really about that but it is. Features a street teen who isn't in high school but chooses to go back to school for a GED.
This one is along the lines of Paranoid Park, more than it is, say, Recovery Road. Great appeal for reluctant readers.
Being a homeless runaway teen is super fun! You get to surf and play basketball all day! And live in a treehouse! And even stuff that seems bad (like getting robbed) is really pretty ok! You will totally start a career as a private investigator! And then go surf!
Susane Colasanti
Blake Nelson does it again with another spectacular literary adventure. The Prince of Venice Beach is a poignant, beautiful book about living life on your own terms and thinking outside the box. Like all of Blake Nelson's books, I absolutely adored this story.
Robert (Cali) Callahan left Nebraska far behind him a couple of years ago and now lives in Venice Beach, California. While he is practically homeless, he is better off than most teens on the local streets. After all, he has a tree house where he sleeps, and because he knows the streets and its inhabitants pretty well, others trust him. Plus, Cali has ambitions of making something of himself once he is a little older. In Jay Gatsbyesque style, he makes lists of things he needs to do in order to i ...more
Emily (Falling for YA)
Robert “Cali” Callahan ran away from the foster system in Nebraska and has cut out a life for himself in Venice Beach, California. He has a pretty sweet set up, a treehouse to live in, friends, and above average basketball skills. When a private investigator asks Cali to help find missing people, who are presumed to be in Venice, his sweet set up gets a little better funded. The problem is people that go to Venice don’t want to be found.

I loved the setting of this story. I’ve always liked Venic
(this review was published in School Library Journal on 4/13/14)

Robert 'Cali' Callahan, a 'rad' teenage runaway, knows everyone in Venice beach. Because of this, he becomes the go-to guy for private investigators searching the area. Cali succeeds- until he's hired to find a gorgeous teenage girl and he realizes he doesn't know who to trust.

This was alright! Very fun and interesting, with vibrant characters. Really crazy towards the end!

The characters! Loved the characters! They were vibrant and
Cali, a homeless kid in Venice, CA, turns out to have dreams of being a private investigator and it turns out he's good at it. An interesting portrayal of the homeless lifestyle. Does't make it sound glamorous though Cali's life is not rough all the time but he is stuck. Because Cali has a stable situation, we're able to see a broader picture of life for the many different people you've seen or heard about living on the streets in southern CA.
Rebecca Roi
Meh. The Prince of Venice is a novel that didn't really leave me feeling a lot of anything. It's not a bad book, it just didn't really hook me in any special way. I also found I felt some unresolve after finishing the novel. The last two chapters have a sudden twist in the plot and I don't feel that the aftermath of the situation was thoroughly handled. It was a life altering event for the main character and we need to see him deal with the consequences and involve as a character and human being ...more
The Prince of Venice Beach left me wanting more and more. Written by critically acclaimed author of Recovery Road, Girl, and Paranoid Park, Blake Nelson is a pro when it comes to young fiction adults novels. Tackling more mature topics such as sex, death, and addiction, he has proved to be a favorite among late teens. The Prince of Venice Beach is aimed towards a relaxed lifestyle when centered around teen Robert “Cali” Callahan who is homeless teen runaway and spends his days roaming the crowde ...more
The Prince of Venice Beach is an action packed YA novel about a boy searching for the truth about a girl’s disappearance.


Robert “Cali” Callahan loves his life as a runaway on Venice Beach. Yes, there are challenges, but Cali is more than smart and tough enough to handle them. One day, a private investigator takes note of Cali’s impressive survival skills and offers him a job finding missing people.

At first, Cali thinks it’s a huge win for him. He gets to use his brains and not be so b
At the age of fourteen, Cali ran away from the foster care system in Nebraska and, since then, has been making a life for himself off the grid. Now seventeen, lives in a treehouse in the backyard of Hope Stillwell, a Venice Beach resident and spends his time alternating between odd jobs and hanging out with his fellow homeless teen friends. Then Cali’s policeman friend Detective Mitchell refers him to a private investigator who needs help locating a wealthy young San Francisco runaway and is wil ...more
Two-second recap:

In The Prince of Venice Beach, Blake Nelson crafts an elegantly written teenaged noir story that will have readers wishing they too were also living on the streets of Venice, exploring with Cali and his friends.

Confession time: I was initially drawn to The Prince of Venice Beach because the cover and the setting intrigued me.

However, once I began reading, I realized that Blake Nelson - a writer I had actually been unfamiliar with - had crafted an intriguing, thought
Robert "Cali" Callahan is a 17 year old that ran away from Omaha, Nebraska 3 years prior and was living on the streets of Venice Bch. (runaway haven) until someone allowed him residency in a treehouse in their back yard. That removed him from the dangers of the streets yet still allowed him his independence, which is better than most other runaways who sleep in abandoned buildings, abandoned cars, alleyways, etc. Usually he bides his time hanging out on the boardwalk and playing pickup basketbal ...more
Review of an Advanced Reader Copy.

There were so many things I enjoyed about this book.

First, it takes Teen Noir in a new, fun, interesting direction. This is the second book I've read lately in what I think of as a pleasantly newfangled Teen Noir genre and I have to say I'm liking it. It's not too dark, but has a nice grey air to it. And I've never been a big noir or mystery reader either. Maybe I'm just burned out on all that dystopia, plus noir requires different gears in my head which is nice
Squeal! A new book from Blake Nelson! That was my reaction when I saw this was out. I have read all of his books and this latest doesn't disappoint. Blake Nelson writes both male and female characters exceptionally well... in this latest novel, we meet street kids from Venice Beach, CA. The book centers around Cali, a male runaway from Nebraska who is currently living in a treehouse in someone's backyard. He has been on the streets long enough to be an asset to private investigators who begin hi ...more
This book seems really corny and light hearted, which it is in some ways, but it has a lot deep meaning. It also covers some difficult topics like guilt and suicide. I would recommend this book to someone who likes detective books, and doesn't mind books with such hard, pressing subjects. Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was good, I just didn't think it was great. The beginning of this book drags a bit, and the climax/ resolution are really short and fast. I think the more important, deep themes ...more
I'm not quite sure what prompted me to pick up this book from my library, because it's not exactly my usual fare. My feelings about it are pretty average, but in some ways I appreciated that it was a surprisingly easy read that I didn't feel too emotionally attached to.

I hated The Catcher in the Rye, but this book felt like a tamer version of it, which is a good thing in my book. Didn't have the expletives/substance abuse of the former, but also a good story about a teenage boy growing up, with
Lama  El-Najdi
This book had the chance to touch on so many problems: Homeless youth, suicide, mental disorders, domestic abuse, stereotypes, bad parenting and violence, however the author disregarded all these problems mentioned within the book. Such an awful book. The diction is awful, the plot is cliche and boring, the characters have no character, and serve the wellness of the protagonist.
Blake Nelson tries his hand at a detective mystery. Blake moves his story from the usual locale of Oregon to the big, gritty, more PI friendly location of Southern California. A reader could refer to this book as Philip Marlowe Begins. Robert "Cali" Callahan, a runaway teen, has a knack for finding lost people. His talent leads him to think about becoming a private investigator. The life of a private investigator, however, can be dangerous and complicated. As Cali undertakes more cases and his e ...more
When I first began reading The Prince of Venice Beach, I really wanted to fall in love with it. Luckily (and judging by the amount of stars I gave it) I did! I was expecting it to be good, maybe even great. What I wasn’t expecting was to finish it the same day I began reading it.

While it was easy to get into from page 1, I will be honest and say the first few chapters flew by time wise. Cali helps local cops and detectives to find people, and in the first few chapters he is hired to find two or
Alexi M.
This story is about a teenage boy who ran away from the foster care system in the mid west and has been living in Venice Beach for two years. I think it is a little far fetched that a free spirited woman would allow him to use her backyard tree house and come and go in her house as he pleases. But it is a really nice idea and I liked that the author demonstrated a sense of optimism through out the book.

This kid is a kind spirit and doing the best he can. He is trying to be responsible for himse
It's hard not to compare a story about a teenage P.I. to Veronica Mars, but I think this compares in a great way, and would probably appeal to fans of VM. Cali has the same sense of morals and instincts about people that make it obvious why he is good at what he does. This was a short zippy read but really good! I like any story that humanizes people that society likes to dehumanizes, in this case the homeless and those with mental illness. Being from a teenage boys perspective, it just barely g ...more
Nick R
I really liked this book since I go to venice beach a lot and it is easy to see all the the things this book talked about. The book was spot-on with the description of Venice beach, California. The main character, Cali, was a great guy, and fit the role of a private detective in a way you would never imagine. My favorite character was actually Jojo, and my favorite scene was when Jojo gave away his fresh pair of $240 Jordans to another guy for a pair of spongebob shoes. This book was a really gr ...more
This was recommended as good 'guy lit', but I thought it felt flat. Cali is a runaway teen living in a treehouse in Venice Beach. He decides to help find people when asked by a friend of a cop he knows. It seems to me that he would have more cognitive dissonance with the idea of finding people who, like him, have run away from something. But Cali doesn't seem to have too many deep thoughts, so it isn't a problem until pretty far into the book. It was okay, maybe better for people who are familia ...more
Quick, light read. If you like Aladdin you'll like this. Street-rat Cali discovers he has an interest in becoming a private investigator for finding runaways, and throughout the book he develops from a fun-loving, waywardless teenage guy into a selfless, honest, loyal private-investigator-in-training. Four stars for originality (like I said, it's basically Aladdin), five stars for character development, plot development and cover, three stars for real-life accuracy. And I'm really starting to li ...more
Giovanna Forsyth
I liked like...85% of this book. As someone who is on Venice Beach at least once daily...I think some of the "life" descriptions in Venice are a little overblown, but some of it was spot on. I think my biggest issue was the way this book drops off in the last 10%. A book that seems like it should answer more questions doesn't...which is jarring. It's a good YA reality book that deals with the reality of running away. It "might" glorify it a bit, but it does show some of the downsides. I think th ...more
Forever Young Adult
Graded By: Brian
Cover Story: "Yoinks! Like, Let's Get Out of Here, Scoob!"
Drinking Buddy: "I've Got Eight Slugs in Me, One's Lead, the Rest are Bourbon."
Testosterone Level: "Don't Fire the Gun While You're Talking!"
Talky Talk: "I Always Leave a Note for My Mother When I'm on a Case."
Bonus Factor: Homeless
Bromance Status: "All Righty Then!"

Read the full book report here.
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Blake Nelson grew up in Portland, Oregon. He began his career writing short humor pieces for Details Magazine. His first novel GIRL was originally serialized in SASSY magazine and was made into a film staring Selma Blaire and Portia De Rossi. His novel PARANOID PARK won the prestigious International Grinzane Literary Award and was made into a film by Gus Van Sant.

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