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The Prince of Venice Beach

3.49  ·  Rating Details ·  777 Ratings  ·  147 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
Aug 20, 2014 Jody rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Mar 02, 2014 Lynette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
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
Jun 13, 2016 Nicole rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-lit
This is one of the first books that came in my book box subscription. It is not one that I would have picked up on my own (which was the point of getting the subscription). I would not say that it is one of my favorites, but it's not too bad. The story kept me interested, and the characters are likable. This is a quick "mild" YA read. The story is nearly all dialogue and action without a whole lot of long descriptive passages, which speeds the story along. The language and content are very acces ...more
Jun 20, 2014 Alexa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teenbooks
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.
Lama El-Najdi
Jul 26, 2014 Lama El-Najdi rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Mar 20, 2014 emma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, arc
(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
Taylor B
Aug 04, 2015 Taylor B rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I started this book when I was in Santa Monica, California. It was interesting to be reading a book about the area I was visiting. The book had an interesting concept but the actual story was rather disappointing. The plot was slow. The characters were not dynamic and instead rather stereotypical. I was also disappointed with the narrative. The book was narrated by Cali, a homeless runaway teen, but it didn't have much personality. There were feeble attempts to give the book a bit of voice, but ...more
Rebecca Roi
Jun 13, 2014 Rebecca Roi rated it it was ok
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
Nick R
Sep 02, 2014 Nick R rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 07, 2016 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
An interesting story about a boy who has run away and managed to make a life as a street kid. It showed some of the negative parts while keeping positive as he has become a roll model for others and does have a plan for the future. I enjoyed the story but felt it dropped off at the end and left the reader hanging, I would have felt better with a little more closure to the story.
Sep 26, 2016 Avery rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The ending of this was so unexpected I never thought she was lying. But overall, I liked this book. It wasn't very exciting or fast paced, but it was still good.
Mar 26, 2014 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult-teen
Read for review.
Jul 05, 2014 Celeste_pewter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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, thoug
Dec 12, 2016 CALEB HARTMAN rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was a book that I could relate to.
Oct 29, 2014 Sonali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Michelle Arrow

This book honestly was so much fun to read. It was the perfect summer read, and it was definitely the type to make you giggle and squeal and soak up the sun. *says in a cheesy matter* I absolutely regret reading this in the dawn of fall. -.-

As you probably can recognize from the title, this book is about summer. Robert Callahan is a runaway, and he's homeless, living in sunny California. At the same time, this a mystery where "Cali" is referred to a private investigator where he'll be sear
Rachel Patrick
This review (and others) can be seen in all its proper formatting glory on my blog Beauty and the Bookshelf.

First and foremost, a big thanks to Jen at Jenuine Cupcakes for giving me an ARC of The Prince of Venice Beach!

The Prince of Venice Beach follows a teenage boy people call Cali who's homeless (well, he lives in someone's tree house) in, you guessed it, Venice Beach, California. When a private investigator approaches Cali for help finding someone (and more people of the like approach him th
Ginger at
3.5/5 stars

If time had allowed me to, I would have easily finished this book sitting poolside on a hot summer day. The Prince of Venice Beach is the perfect enjoyable escape to lose a few hours to as you read about the adventures this runaway teen boy, turn private investigator, finds himself in. I liked the straight forward approach of Blake Nelson's writing. It's basic and to the point, yet paints a vivid image at the same time. The voice of his main character, Cali, is hard to resist. He beco
Jul 08, 2014 MAK rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Maybe I would have liked this book more if I had went into it with the right frame of mind, but before I began reading The Prince of Venice Beach, I expected something gritty. Intense emotions, personal issues, problems that a teenage homeless person might encounter ... whatever I expected, this book was the complete opposite of it all.

The Prince of Venice Beach was just too simple for me. The main character, Cali, is supposed to be seventeen, but as I read, his voice seemed much younger. There
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
Ms. Yingling
Jan 26, 2014 Ms. Yingling rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cali has a pretty good (if unrealistic) life. He has run away from foster care in Nebraska and is living on the beach in Venice, California. He sleeps in a tree house because a woman named Hope is helping him out, letting him use her computer and household facilities, and helping him with cashing checks. He likes to play basketball and manages to get by doing odd jobs. When he is approached by a detective, he's leery, but when he is offered a good deal of money to help find a missing runaway, he ...more
Jun 11, 2015 Guavemily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Josie M.
Apr 06, 2015 Josie M. rated it liked it
Overall, I thought this book was okay. I enjoyed the concept of this book. The life that the main character, Cali, led. It was unlike anything that I have come across in YA. Cali was quite mysterious. We learn a little bit about his past and how he ends up living off grid in Venice Beach, but not much. Cali lives in the present and dreams of the future. I wish we could have seen more of Cali's past, I think it would have made his character more complex and round. Nevertheless Cali was a charming ...more
May 06, 2014 Brichimt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
Jul 09, 2014 Alice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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.

His most recent Young Adult novel
More about Blake Nelson...

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