Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Prince of Venice Beach” as Want to Read:
The Prince of Venice Beach
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Prince of Venice Beach

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  945 ratings  ·  168 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 recommends Cali to a private investigator who is looking for a m
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published June 3rd 2014 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Prince of Venice Beach, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.48  · 
Rating details
 ·  945 ratings  ·  168 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Prince of Venice Beach
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 rated it did not like it
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 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Emily Donnellan
Jan 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: library
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
Nicole Perry Kurilchick
Jun 13, 2016 rated it liked it
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
Alexa Hamilton
Jun 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Lama El-Najdi
Jul 26, 2014 rated it did not like it
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.
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book was just "ok" for me. I couldn't connect with any of the characters at all and the writing style was more a recitation of events than any true character building. As someone who has actually been a homeless teen, there just wasn't enough depth in the story to make me rate this book any higher. The idea and plot were good - but we had this whole gritty world and interesting main character and we got nothing about him. ...more
Emma Harris
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
Well, it wasn’t a good book. But at least I might be out of my reading slump. Quick and easy with no real plot, and no character development, a cop-out ending for the secondary main character, and a weird conspiracy plot that’s never explored... what more could you ask for?
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 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, 2014
(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
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
Taylor Ball
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
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
Nov 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Considering that I got it for $1 at the Dollar Tree, it wasn’t all that bad. Is it really well written and all the fancy stuff you would expect from some highly acclaimed book? No. But it was a light read that at least kept me interested. Life on the streets is tough, but he’s lucky enough to have a shelter to sleep in and friends that try to take care of each other no matter what (aren’t those what’s really important?). Certainly not a waste of money in my opinion. I wouldn’t have spent the lis ...more
Nick R
Sep 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It was a book that I could relate to.
Victoria Isenberg
Mar 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Author of “Paranoid Park”, Blake Nelson released “The Prince of Venice Beach”, a young adult mystery, in 2014. This story highlights the life of the homeless teenagers in California through adventure and mysteries.

Robert Callahan, better known as Cali, is a runaway orphan from the Midwest. He spends his days living in Venice, in a hippie woman, named Hope’s backyard tree house. He spends his days riding his skateboard along the city and boardwalk, and shooting hoops with his other street friends
Apr 16, 2018 rated it liked it
“He finds people who don’t want to be found.” The Prince of Venice Beach was a great book, and I would give it 3 out of 5 stars. I would give it this because it has lots of action, emotion, and hard decisions that have to be made. When it talks about Cali’s life as a runaway it makes it seem like everything’s always fun, and you never have any problems. This isn’t very realistic, but it does make a very good story. It is also interesting, and surprising to see how the main character, Cali, turns ...more
So, I'm a little conflicted on this one. *Some spoilers ahead.

I liked it. Coming in at 240 pages its a short book, but it was also a quick read. The writing style was very easy and simple, witch went well with the tone of the MC's (Cali) voice. I also enjoyed the characters. I think the author did well with creating all the different characters he did to go along with the concept of this book. Characters with different backgrounds and personalities. It's also a pretty light read.

I think that's w
Sarah Bonhage
This book showed an interesting twist on what many people tend to overlook- homeless teenagers. Cali, the main character goes into the private investagator buisness, and I believe he is the best person for the job, since no one ever expects Cali to have that job. There are various parts to the job that was seen through Blake Nelson's writing. I think the author showed an interesting twist and creative idea in his writing. I would reccommend this book to those who like a straight plot, not many t ...more
Jul 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
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, t
Joanna Dean
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another Dollar Tree book, and I liked it alot. It's sort of YA (which I like), but I don't believe that's intentional, just that most of the characters are teenagers. The main character is very likable; I'd red more about him if I could. His friends are also interesting characters, and they're all completely believable. The twist at the end was excellent, and I wasn't expecting a twist at all. I recommend this book. ...more
Allison B.
Mar 15, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a pretty good book. The ending was surprising for sure. Did not see that coming! A homeless kid basically wants to become a private investigator. His name has spread around, and he is hired for some jobs. He doesn't ask what for, or why, he just does the job for money. The ending of it kind of drags on, but otherwise a decent book. ...more
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, ya
Eh. The tone of the main character is of ultimate male privilege, but the writing is great and fun. "Cali" ends up helping cops find some missing people, and ends up with a weird career in private investigation, despite being pretty much homeless and a runaway. The tone was just so off-putting of the main character at times. Not my fave Blake Nelson. ...more
Josephine Rod8537
Jan 06, 2020 rated it liked it
This book was ok. The whole book together is a good story and easy to read book. The ending feels forced and too abrupt. I think the author should've went more into detail with the ending he had instead of leaving it unexpected but blunt. Along with that the plot is somewhat cliche and boring, the characters have no character, and serve the wellness of the protagonist. ...more
Alex Lin
Jun 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really good storyine. Would love to see it become a series, especially since it would appeal to ages 12 and up.
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love this book

The Prince is a runaway who lives in Venice beach ca. He lives in a tree house and finds people.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Atomic Love
  • Billion Dollar Loser: The Epic Rise and Spectacular Fall of Adam Neumann and WeWork
  • A Good Marriage
  • Tomorrow Will Be Better
  • The Here and Now
  • Navigating the Stars (Sentinels of the Galaxy #1)
  • Defending the Galaxy (Sentinels of the Galaxy #3)
  • The Weight of Feathers
  • They Wish They Were Us
  • Your House Will Pay
  • Sure, I'll Be Your Black Friend: Notes from the Other Side of the Fist Bump
  • Today Tonight Tomorrow
  • The Gravity of Us
  • Fire Study (Study, #3)
  • The Rise of Life on Earth
  • Truly Like Lightning
  • The Singer's Gun
  • Flash Crash: A Trading Savant, a Global Manhunt, and the Most Mysterious Market Crash in History
See similar books…
See top shelves…
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

Related Articles

If you're a fan of the mystery and thriller genre and young adult books, recent months have brought a bevy of great reads to your shelves! We...
149 likes · 20 comments