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Out of Patience    by Brian Meehl order for
Out of Patience
by Brian Meehl
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

In 1876, Jeremiah Waters installed the first flush toilet (the Dolphin Deluge Washdown Water Closet) west of the Mississippi, to please his new wife Regina. In the town of Patience, Jeremiah named streets according to 'the traits that had brought him to this point in life' - including Adventure, Courage, Labor, Thrift, Faith, Resolve, Endurance, and Courage. Now, the town is full of empty houses, a couple of doublewide trailer homes, and a huge metal equipment shed, with a 'crazy quilt of streets, balding patches of cinnamon brown yards, rusty farm equipment, and the oil-pumping jack perched on a motionless windmill'. There's also the 'coffin house', the original home of Jeremiah Waters.

Twelve-year-old Jake Waters 'was going to be the first J. Waters not to die in Patience, Kansas.' His dad is town plumber Jim Waters, who intends to found an American Toilet Museum to display his collection of antique toilet seats, vintage plungers, and royal chamber pots. He wants to revive the town, and put it back on the map. Jim discovers an ancient relic for sale on eBay - the Plunger of Destiny. Said purchase triggers a curse: 'The day the Plunger of Destiny returns, the final destruction begins!' Jake believes in the curse - a long slow death for the town. Should he leave, or stay to rescue the tiny town as it meets with a series of unlucky events (including a tornado, and a well which tests high in nitrate levels)?

The latter brings the DHH and EPA into Patience - the latter under the direction of Sandra Cass, whose ancestor, preacher Andars Cass, was run out of Patience, tarred and feathered. His unpopularity was a result of his constant proselytizing over the new water closet as being the work of Satan, as well as issues revolving around an attempted robbery by Blackbeard and his gang of thieves. The robbers were foiled when the townsfolk heard the thieves were coming and had Jeremiah Waters bury their treasures. To save the town, Jake needs to solve a mystery of 'What happened the day Jeremiah Waters last sat in the water closet of doom?' His friends - Howie Knight and Nisira Rashid - stick by Jake through thick and thin, and come through when he needs them the most, searching for a supposed treasure and solving the mystery.

Out of Patience is a hilarious romp, challenging Carl Hiaasen's famed Flush. Meehl's back flap bio speaks of 'a varied background inclusive of a dancer, garbage man, millworker, a mime, a street performer, a Muppeteer on 'Sesame Street', a playwright, and TV writer. He has no intention of deciding what he wants to be when he grows up ... he is a fugitive being sought by several high school guidance counselors, he can't reveal where he lives except to say it's somewhere in Connecticut country. He shares his hideout with four horses, three dogs, two daughters, one wife, and an angora bunny. They all wish he would grow up sooner rather than later.'

Don't allow the description of humorous antics or subject matter to fool you, or turn you away from the book. This engaging tale of toilets, plungers, a curse, and a disappearing town addresses community spirit, stick-togetherness, and shows that, in the long run, it takes lots of patience and trust for a community to survive. I highly recommend readers to take the plunge into Out of Patience, a riotous tale with constant action.

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