Strays
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Strays

3.31 of 5 stars 3.31  ·  rating details  ·  279 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Could life as a foster kid lead to unexpected benefits? A teenager’s link to animals gives way to human connection in a smart, incisive new novel.

Sixteen-year-old Ted O’Connor’s parents just died in a fiery car crash, and now he’s stuck with a set of semi-psycho foster parents, two foster brothers — Astin, the cocky gearhead, and C.W., the sometimes gangsta — and an inner-...more
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published May 8th 2007 by Candlewick Press
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Betsy
Strays was recommended by a friend of mine. I was not sure what to expect, and after reading it, I am actually not completely sure what to think. Ted's parents just died, and now he is in a foster home where he meets Astin and C. W. He shares a room with Astin who is older and has lived in the home for quite some time. Ted sees Astin as the cool guy. C.W. arrived at the home with Ted but is no stranger to the system. C.W. strives to feel at home with his gang-sta friends and yearns to be loved....more
Ashley W.


The book Strays is about a 16 year old boy named Ted who gets put into foster care after his parents die in a fiery car crash. He gets put into a foster home with two foster brothers Astin and C.W.. The author Ron Koertge writes about the problems Ted faces after he is put into foster care for example being a new school, living without his parents for the first time, and accepting his new family into his life. Once put into the foster home he realizes he has a special gift, he can talk to animal...more
Desiree.osman osman
This book was good but, had a very bad ending. It is about a boy that becomes a foster child and his life starts to change. He thinks the change is good at first but doesn't really know for sure, one major change is that he can now speak to animals. I would recommend this book to someone that wants a good easy reading book, wants a couple laughs, and does not mind a very horrible ending.
Ariel
Feb 23, 2014 Ariel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: ya
I loved Stoner & Spaz very, very much so when I saw another title by Ron Koertge in the ebooks section of my library, I decided to go for it. This is funny, smart, original, and compulsively readable EVEN THOUGH once again all the adults in the book are pathological and I have been sick of that trope for months now. Reminds me of John Green and that is high praise. So, the story: A boy with a gift for communicating with animals finds a new lease on life when his horrible parents die and he g...more
Melissa
4Q 3P MJ
Ted O’Connor is a teenager facing the death of his parents, and being thrust into the foster care system. Life has been challenging for Ted, as he has never “fit in” and has been made fun of his entire life. His parents had owned a pet store, and through this experience Ted developed his love of animals. He even communicates uniquely with animals, as he too feels he is a stray. At his new foster home he encounters his diverse foster brothers; Austin cocky and cool with his motorcycle, an...more
Lily
This book was surprisingly well-written. The structure was simple, but very effective. There was some things I liked in this book and some things, I thought could have been better.

One thing I liked was the fact that Ted (main character) had such a strong relationship with the animals around him. At first I was confused. But as the story progressed I realized that he could understand the animals. It was weird how not too many people noticed he was talking to the animals, or questioned him about...more
Riley Conway
In Strays, by Ron Koertge, Ted, a shy, mild sixteen-year-old, is thrust into the foster care system when his parents die suddenly in a car crash. He meets Astin—long time foster kid at the Rafters’ (Ted’s new foster home), who is about to graduate and “age out” of the system—and C.W., who arrives at the Rafters’ at the same time as Ted and is both a wannabe gangsta and, as it turns out, a kind-hearted dog-lover.

The book is about Ted letting go of his parents. They didn’t treat him very well, but...more
Tracy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bethany
This was a nice short read that kept me turning pages long after I should have been asleep. The main character is Ted, a 16-year-old who has just lost both his parents in a car wreck. Ted is placed with a foster family where two other teen boys also reside as foster kids. Ted's parents owned a pet store and he was their employee for pretty much his whole life. The book starts out with Ted relating primarily to animals rather than other humans. Part of this seems to be a defense mechanism, as he...more
Kaalomai
this book is full of interesting stuff, the situation, the players, the character development and i loved the big twist. it was perfectly written and threads through the whole story linking it and adding depth and making sense of the it in a really interesting way that kept me reading to find out what we were going to find out next about his animal friends. in the end i wished we could have heard more from them but it did make sense for this story. his foster situation is realistic and i enjoyed...more
Claire
I am a fan of Mr. Koertge, I think his books are great for a high school guys read list.
In this book Ted (16 or so) is struggling with the deaths of his parents in a fiery car crash. They aren't the best parents, mom loved animals, dad loved money (and various women) Ted was their lackey. At school Ted was a mat for anyone to bully. Ted's crew were the animals that he can truly understand as mates at the mercy of the humans around them.
Now he is 'in the system' and in a foster home of the Rafte...more
Dawn Vanniman
Ted O'Connor is 16yo and new to the foster care system. His parents died in a car accident. They ran a pet store and had LOTS of animals living in their home. Ted was called "Litterbox Ted" on more than one occasion at school. His parents cared for many things, but not necessarily Ted first: his dad cared for money and women and his mom cared for the animals.

Ted has a weird ability to communicate with animals and I suppose he learns some lessons from their conversations. He figures out how to to...more
Steve Clark
I probably could be talked into giving this four stars, but I'm tired of giving almost everything I read except the really exceptional works four stars. After all, I really liked this better than "Stoner & Spaz" by the same author. A quick read and I'd say about 80% on the mark with its depictions of contemporary teen life, with 20% sounding more like cliched observations of media cliches. The protaganist has a somewhat extraordinary ability to speak with animals that is interesting, but I'm...more
Lauren
Possibly one of the best animal books I've read. The main character, an orphan or a human stray, finds himself and more despite the loss of everything he knows. This is a short simple book that gets to the heart of the matter. Love this book! (view spoiler)...more
Ozimandias
A short read about a kid whose parents die and has to learn to become an independent person who can rely on others. The book is okay. I guess most of the weighty stuff is left to the reader to figure out. It's more about what is not said, or how to read what is said. The most interesting idea from this book is that the parents who died were not idyllic martyrs that Ted O'Connor has to find some way to live without. Rather, the parents were flawed people who weren't really that good to their son....more
Hope Baugh
A colleague suggested this when I was looking for something to read for our next departmental book discussion. The topic of the discussion was "bromances" - straight guy buddy stories. This book is actually about three guys who all end up in the same foster home and become friends in spite of their differences. But I loved it because it was so much more than a bromance. I loved that it was an "animal lover's story" in which no animals die. And I loved that although the author does a huge amount...more
Terry
This book was surprising and unexpected in a good way. It could easily have been a predictably dark YA coming of age tale: boy's parents die, foster care isn't good, alcohol, sex, violence, The End. While those elements are here, Koertge handles them with originality. Any kid who loves animals will feel kinship to Ted O'Connor, the orphan in foster care who not only talks to animals, but who hears them talk back. Ultimately, "Strays" is about what tribe we belong to - orphans, outcasts, friend,...more
Patrickdelaney
Jan 23, 2009 Patrickdelaney rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: The 'outsiders' among us
Recommended to Patrickdelaney by: Found a rec in a review of his other one, Stoner and Spaz
Yeah, there's an image of a dog on the cover, but that's not representative of the "strays" that Koertge is writing about here. The hero of the story has a pretty chaotic past and, through no fault of his own, he winds up in the foster care system. It's not the usual horror story of foster care, though. The story is more about being different and slowly, tentatively finding a way to preserve that difference without making yourself a target or a complete anti-social weirdo. I really liked the aut...more
Jocelyn
this is a unique book. the characters are all different but honest. I wanna be friends with them:) plus Ted is really sweet. I'm jealous of his relationship with Wanda.
Lisa
This is a snapshot of a slice of life for Teddy, who grows into a real human boy after his parents are killed and he is thrust into foster care. He is fortunate to be in a mostly positive situation with two boys who are understanding and take him under their wing. I liked the characters and their development as well as the animal connection. The main character was rather stable with the other characters having worse living situations even though some of them still had parents. It's all relative.
jenna nims
interesting dialogue in this book, a bit quirky and i think thats why i kept reading, but i did think that more would happen... the book kind of leads you to believe this i think, also the story line - an orphan moves in to his new foster home with 2 other foster kids and he's unpopular in school and he can communicate with animals - with this story line you would think more would happen than it did. oh well - still an ok story.
Yvonne Powderly
Although the plot line is simple (boy finds acceptance/self-confidence)and the story is complicated, readers will enjoy the wit and hope filled account of a lost boy finding himself.
Recently orphaned Ted is placed in a foster home. The Rafters have two other foster children. Ted, who relates more to animals (he speaks to them and they speak back) slowly becomes more communicative. Nice quick read.
Christian
At this point, I remember rather little about this book. I picked it up because the premise—lonely boy talks to dogs—seemed rather intriguing. And I've enjoyed Koertge in the past. In the end, I enjoyed this book as well. At least that's the impression I have. There was nothing stellar to make it stand out, but it was a good book about learning to find your place in a new pack.
Christy
Jan 27, 2010 Christy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Christy by: MRA
Shelves: young-adult
Sixteen-year-old Ted is placed in foster care after his parents' death. He has to deal with the loss of his parents, but more importantly, the loss of his beloved pets. His parents owned a pet store and Ted has a gift for listening to animals. As he navigates a new home with a foster family and a new school, this gift guides him. However, will the gift last?
Shelley Daugherty
This was an okay book about a boy who looses his parents in an auto accident and is moved into the foster case system. He can talk to animals which is a little perk since he has little to no friends. But things turn around for him even though his living arrangements are a little strange and he finds out what it is like to be accepted.
Janet Lynch
A realistic portrait of a foster kid Ted told with humor, compassion, and honesty. It's not an easy life, but the kid's going to be okay. One negative: the foster parents are pretty sick people; I did not enjoy either one of them, and the mom plain creeped me out. One big plus: the kid can communicate with animals. Very cool.
Caroline L.
This book was not really what I expected. It definatley wasn't a book that I would recommend for girls our age. So I think It should be for boys 16-17. But, I mean I guess I didn;t like it because it was based on a boys life. The book was scary and at times depressing. Which was really not that good to read.
Maisie
Bought this for a dollar, the book was pretty boring and the narrative seemed to randomly jump.
The only good thing about this book was its length, short and quick to read. But if it were longer, and perhaps more detailed, it would have been better and I would have enjoyed it more.
Diana Gagliardi
An interesting read, very quick and light. I find MOST fascinting the fact that the kid has a gift- he can understand animals- but the author never tries to explain it. Just like so many things in life, things happen and you never actually know why, just that it did. Well done.
Carly
Jan 23, 2008 Carly rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who hate talking animal books
Excellent book. Really fantastic writing (duh, it's Ron Koertge). I was amazed by how spot-on he gets the voices of all his characters. Plus, it's a very intriguing premise. If this book would have been right up my style alley, I would've given it more stars, but I still REALLY liked it.
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Ask Ron Koertge what he brings to the realm of young adult fiction, and the seasoned author responds matter-of-factly. "I write dialogue well, and I'm funny," he says--an assessment few would argue with. "I like iconoclasm and practice it in my fiction. I don't like pretense or hypocrisy. I'm almost always irreverent."

A faculty member for more than 35 years at Pasadena City College, where he has...more
More about Ron Koertge...
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