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I read this book 2 years ago; I grabbed it from a classroom library because I needed a book to read. It was definitely on the older end - at least, the copy looked like it had seen better days. I remember enjoying it, which is odd because I dislike most dystopian books - I think I grabbed it because the cover was interesting? I don't remember. It was definitely a middle grade or YA book - for kids, anyway.
It was very short (150 pages or less) and a cheap paperback. The protagonist was a younger teenager, who was living on the streets for some significant percentage of the novel. He met up with a much older man who taught him stuff (I think how to read) in this hut/hovel thing. I remember books being very important (but in a different way than Fahrenheit 451 - no one really knew how to read, I think). I think the main character narrated in first person, and it was in a sort of slang, along the lines of that in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, though again, not entirely sure.
The novel ends with the older man being burned alive/tortured to death, I think, and the boy just runs off into the darkness.
I keep kind of associating this book with Freak the Mighty for whatever reason, but I don't know why, as I know they have very different plots.