I’m going to keep this short (and for once I think I won’t just say that and then type on for the usual length of review), as the Al Capone at Alcatraz series is quite consistent in quality and subject matter. If you liked the previous two, you’re sure to enjoy this one as well.
To me, the most interesting element continues to be the relationships, particularly the way anyone interacts with Natalie. Moose still takes care of his autistic older sister Natalie most of the time, but he’s much more understanding than he used to be and also much more convinced that he can help her learn to function more normally. His parents are now much more conservative, afraid to rock the boat, but Moose knows that, with a lot of hard work, she could mix better with society. What they’re working on in Al Capone Does My Homework is getting Natalie to make eye contact with people, particularly during conversations. Throughout all of this, though, I like that Choldenko never shows Natalie as a pathetic figure or wrong. She always holds up the good with the bad.
What Left Me Wanting More:
The mystery didn’t interest me all that much, perhaps because I’m a bit sick of watching everyone on the island mistrust Natalie. She’s been there for three book’s already, so stop assuming she’s evil and/or dangerous. She just thinks about the world differently; get over it. I mean, I get it, but ugh. Plus, I’m not really into mysteries. I am, however, highly entertained by the middle grade romance, which has now turned into a love triangle. Moose has his pick of the ladies his age on Alcatraz. All two of them. This amuses me no end.
The Final Verdict:
I think I preferred the series slightly on audio, but that may just be because I experienced it that way first. This continues to be a fun series, which I recommend for readers who enjoy unusual settings.