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33 snowfish  
First edition book cover
First edition book cover
Author Adam Rapp
Cover artist Timothy Basil Ering
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Young adult novel
Publisher Candlewick Press
Publication date March 1, 2003
Media type Print (Hardcover, Paperback)
Pages 192 pp (first edition, hardback)179 pp (Paperback)
ISBN ISBN 0-7636-1874-8 (first edition, hardback)ISBN 0-7636-2917-0 (Paperback)
OCLC Number 50477270
LC Classification PZ7.R1765 Aae 2003

33 Snowfish is a 2003 novel by Adam Rapp, written for young adults.


Plot introduction

The main character, Custis, is a 10-year-old orphan boy living with his "owner" Bob Motley in a dilapidated house in Rockdale, Illinois. [1] He has been sexually abused over a period of time by Bob Motley, who forces him to participate in pornographic films with other children, some as young as 7 years old. After overhearing that he was to star in a snuff movie, Custis steals a small pistol and escapes through a hole in the wall. [2]

While hiding from Bob Motley's crew and begging for quarters in an arcade at the Joliet Mall, Custis spots Boobie (whose real name is Darrin Flowers), [3] a strange boy with black eyes and a single painted fingernail. Custis decides to follow Boobie into Crazy Lou's Woods, a private woodland supposedly owned by an ex-military cat-farmer. [4] After encountering each other, Custis and Boobie become fast friends.

Custis, having no home, and Boobie, who has an unstable relationship with his parents, set up a makeshift home in the woods with a tent and steal electricity from a nearby paper factory. Soon they are joined by Curl, Boobie's 14-year-old girlfriend who is addicted to drugs and engages in prostitution in order to survive, and finally Boobie's baby brother, whom Boobie abducts after inexplicably murdering his parents. Boobie believes he can sell his baby brother for a hefty price, and instructs Curl to rename him to "something rich people would like".

The four of them take to the road in a stolen Buick Skylark to flee the police who are searching for Boobie, engaging in dumpster diving, robbery and begging in various Chicago suburbs along the way. During the course of the story, each character meets his or her respective fate, with redemption awaiting but one of them in the unlikeliest of places.


  • Custis - A puerile and racist 10-year-old homeless boy who escaped from a child pornography operation. Custis carries a loaded handgun (a "gat") with three bullets and a broken trigger. He suffers from a seizure-like condition that he refers to as "migration (sic) headaches" which cause him to black out and wake up in different locations. He has frequent dreams about a mysterious individual called Big Tiny, who was said to have been his mother. [5]
  • Curl - A 14-year-old girl from Bolingbrook, Illinois, who used to live with her disabled aunt Frisco who forced her to turn tricks in their apartment. Curl is kind-hearted, acting as an older sister to Custis, as well as extremely superstitious, believing that she had met Boobie because she sat on top of a pile of Chex cereal on the first of May. She expresses a desire to settle down and marry both Custis and Boobie. [6]
  • Boobie (Darrin Flowers) - A 17-year-old boy from Joliet, Illinois who is a violent pyromaniac. Boobie rarely speaks, choosing to express himself via his drawings. He is possessive of Curl and appears to genuinely care about her drug addiction, as well as being extremely protective of Custis, with whom he shares a special friendship. Boobie murdered his parents and is on the run from the police in a stolen Buick Skylark after having abducted his infant brother.
  • Boobie's brother - An unnamed infant who sleeps in a gutted Magnavox TV in the back of Boobie's car. He has blue eyes and an odd seam down his forehead, for which he is thought to be unintelligent or defective by the others. He is regarded as a likely source of income if he can be sold.

Release details

  • 2003, USA, Candlewick Press (ISBN 0-7636-1874-8), Pub date ? March 2003, hardback (First edition)
  • 2006, USA, Candlewick Press (ISBN 0-7636-2917-0), Pub date ? March 2006, paperback

See also


  1. ^ (Paperback) 33 Snowfish, page 9
  2. ^ (Paperback) 33 Snowfish, page 17
  3. ^ (Paperback) 33 Snowfish, page 43
  4. ^ (Paperback) 33 Snowfish, page 50
  5. ^ (Paperback) 33 Snowfish, page 39
  6. ^ (Paperback) 33 Snowfish, page 42

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