Carl Hiaasen – Hoot

Book Review: Hoot – Written by Carl Hiaasen

Written By: Areej Riaz

Hoot packs a whole lot of fun and charm in a couple hundred pages. It revolves around a boy named Roy who has moved to a new place with his parents, is target of a bully, and is having trouble connecting with the place. Until he finds himself in the middle of an adventure, engrossed in unearthing series of mystery incidents led by a mysterious boy, named Mullet Fingers, at a construction site of Mother Paula’s Pancake House. 

Roy investigates the incidents, realizes that Mullet Finger is trying to cause disruptions at the site to delay construction of the restaurant because the site has dens where owls live. Despite being told not to, Roy joins Mullet Finger’s cause to save the owls, helping the boy as much as he can, and standing up for the cause, countless times, particularly to adults. 

The book is a light and refreshing read, with a lot of opportunity for reflection, and instances where the content is highly relatable to current scenarios. 

The first direct relation a reader makes is to the numerous animals and birds that are endangered and protected in our countries, that like the owls, need compatriots that can raise their voices on the animals’ behalf.  The author uses the story cleverly to make the readers connect to the cause, and to feel strongly in favor for the actions being taken by the kids in the story to save the owls. 

What I found even more interesting was the underlying subject matter of the story; giving up what one loves in order to protect others. It’s obvious, everyone liked pancakes in the story, yet people were willing to stand against a pancake chain from opening a restaurant to save endangered owls. If pancakes represent status quo, and owls represented the broader environment on Earth, people want to live as they always have, unchecked consumerism, reliable albeit dirty energy supply, personal transport vehicles, plastics and what not, but there are some that realize there are changes we can make in our lifestyles, give up a thing or two in our day to day lives, to protect the planet and to keep our environment clean.  

This isn’t a small feat, and this isn’t something one can do alone. A theme recurring in the book as well. The importance of team work and collective action, which renders bigger, better results. There were many characters in the book that played a key role in the fight against a corporation’s illegal and endangering actions: activists, supporters and protestors. 

While Mullet Finger was trying his best to delay construction at the protected site, he on his own would have been unable to continue to make impact. He was avidly supported by his stepsister and Roy, and ultimately by a lot of people that rallied behind the cause, and caused an uproar. There is always a way to make a difference, to lend voice to an issue, to campaign for an action, and the more people join hands, the more difference it eventually makes. 

Carl Hiassen also explored home sickness in his story. The feeling of disconnect many of us feel when in a new place, a new setting, or in situations where we don’t feel comfortable. Roy didn’t feel at home in Florida, he kept missing his old house, but meeting Mullet Fingers, seeing those owls and connecting with the nature in his surroundings helped him adjust. To feel at home, especially in a new place, connecting to the surrounding nature helps the transition.