This is a really weird thing to say, but I would almost classify this story as "realistic fiction", except for its setting. It followed a lot of the conventions you see in a straightforward YA realistic fiction novel like "A Separate Peace" or "The Outsiders", where horrible things happen to kids, the kids deal with them, sometimes people die, and things end on a slightly positive but not necessarily uplifting note. So in a sense, I'd agree with Tom's assessment that this story's a bit "miserable" in that there's no escapism in it, while in speculative fiction we almost always get a nice serving of escapism, even if it's a horror story.
But this story is hard to listen to because it's so realistic that it lacks escapism. Kids get stuck in crappy situations, with poverty and neglectful parents, and often have no one to turn to except an imaginary friend. I can think of a handful of books that also feature children without a parent figure who write letters to a hero instead (the kid in Foer's "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" writes to Stephen Hawking after his dad dies in the WTC collapse; the kid in the YA novel "Ironman" writes to Larry King).
The funny thing about those two examples, and what really surprised me about this story, is that in both those books, the celebrity finally writes back at the very end, which gives you that catharsis and escapism and warm fuzzies that I think Tom (and myself) was hoping for. While it's realistically 100% better that the kid's dad is stepping up to the plate at the end, weren't we all kind of hoping Bigfoot really was listening and learning from the kid's letters, and that the dad would get a final email from Mr. Foot himself, letting him know the kid arrived safely? It certainly would have been cathartic, if not exactly realistic. But I'm really grateful that at least we didn't get a dead kid's body at the end.
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