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The Freak Observer

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  563 Ratings  ·  156 Reviews
The Freak Observer is rich in family drama, theoretical physics, and an unusual, tough young womanLoa Lindgren. For eight years, Loa Sollilja's world ran like one of those mechanical models of the solar system, with her baby sister, Asta, as the sun. Asta suffered from a genetic disorder that left her a permanent infant, and caring for her was Loa's life. Everything spun n ...more
Paperback, 202 pages
Published February 1st 2012 by Lerner Publishing Group (first published August 1st 2010)
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This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carolrhoda Lab for the win yet again! Seriously, I've been on top of this inprint since they debuted with DRAW THE DARK and TRAITOR and they've yet to publish anything even remotely resembling a word turd. Their books are so rich and deep that you just get sucked right in and you don't even realize you were under water until you emerge breathless. THE FREAK OBSERVER is no exception.

Now this is literary YA that I can sink my teeth into. It's succinct but vibrant. Loa doesn't pity herself even tho
Nova Waite
So far, as an English teacher, I could criticize so many things about this book. But if the author is reading this review out of curiousity...I will temper my criticism with praise first--I thought the physics problems at the beginning of each chapter were outstanding pieces of craft. I'm a big fan of compositional risk, and especially look for "what has not been done before" in a book. I've never seen physics problems as a way to introduce chapters in a realistic fiction book. The writer scores ...more
Sometimes with books like this, I can't bear to get through them. I read like ten pages at a time, I start another book--all in hopes of avoiding a seemingly inevitable outcome that results in the horrible wasting away of the teenage protagonist. And by books like this I mean books where the teenage protagonist just gets the shit kicked out of them--physically and emotionally--by life.

I guess I'm a bit of a coward like that.

However, in this book like that, Blythe Woolston's, The Freak Observer,
A story with a very strong voice, a very fragile girl, and a family that make you kind of grateful for what you have.
I enjoyed the voice, which reminded me of Speak, and I did like being in Loa's head...until I became bored. Not bored of her, but bored of the story. Nothing was in order, so I was constantly confused. Was this before her friend died, or after?
There's also quite a lot of talk about death and people's coping mechanisms. It made for quite a depressing read.
My main concern for the b
One of those books that don't need a rating.

There's Holden, and then there's Loa.
Jul 03, 2011 TheBookSmugglers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Original review posted on The Book Smugglers HERE

The Freak Observer is the 2011 winner of the William C. Morris Award. This award is given by YALSA to a debut book published by a first-time author writing for young adults and I have decided to try and read all of this year’s nominees. So far, I’ve read Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride (which didn’t work for me) and Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey (which I loved without reservations). The Freak Observer falls somewhere in between
In the months between when I put this book on my list to order for school and today when I read it, I forgot why I ordered it. I do remember that the heart and brain cover is what first attracted my attention, because I still find the cover intriguing. Good reviews and the Morris Award certainly played a part, and I would definitely have read summaries within those reviews and on the book distributor's site. Still, when I pulled it out of my bag last night, I wasn't sure what I was about to be r ...more
"I find it weird that nobody teaches us about dreams in school. You'd think it would come up at some point, like maybe in health class or something, but it doesn't. There was that inspirational speaker who tore a phone book in half and told us to dream big, but his message had nothing to do with our dream life while we sleep. He was all about goals and, I guess, dislike for phone books."

Loa's life has been filled with heartache and loss. Most recently, she was present for the death of a high sch
Feb 02, 2011 Em rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Em's Review: My new favorite word which feels kind of funny in my mouth? Orrery. An Orrery is a mechanical model of the solar system. Loa Lindgren’s family once worked like a science fair prize-worthy orrery (Our gears turned so smoothly and all the parts fit together so perfectly). At the center of their family orbit, was her baby sister Asta, taking the place of the sun in this metaphor, and the family’s life worked around their sun like the clockwork of an orrery (no one ever went missing lik ...more
Nov 10, 2015 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Grade: C-

Loa is one of the saddest characters I've read recently. Ever since her younger sister died of Rett Syndrome, a degenerative disease that left her infantile, Loa's family has fallen apart. Her often intoxicated parents treat her like she's the cause of their problems. Then she witnesses one of her friends run over by a car. Now Loa is friendless and has to work to help support her family as she watches her dreams of college fade with her grades. And, a new friend might be the most harmf
Nov 21, 2010 Allison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Loa, who has just lost a younger sister and a friend, navigates the worlds of high school and her family... all this interspersed with snippets of theoretical physics.

The narrator of this book had a very unique voice, which I liked. For example, in the library, she described the Dewey decimal system as "a ghetto for old books that couldn't just be put in the dumpster but weren't worth the trouble of assigning new numbers and moving to new shelves." She goes on to describe the "shelves of oversiz
Feb 12, 2015 BradyF rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Grade/interest level:I think anybody from 6th grade to 10th grade would enjoy this book.
Reading level: I think the reading level is average.
Genre: I think this book was a thriller.
Main Characters: Loa
Setting: A medium sized town in Montana.
POV: First Person.

This book always had me entertained. Like for example in the beginning it talked about her writing a report and bam it started talking about when her friend was hit by a car. So as soon as it starts to get boring it becomes exciting. So I wo
Mar 05, 2012 Judy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loa Lindgren, the protagonist in The Freak Observer, struggles to find her place outside her family after her young sister dies from a rare genetic disease. For years her sister was the center of the family's universe, and after her death, the family begins to fall apart, and roles that were automatic during her life lose their significance. Loa's character is credible; she is intelligent, thoughtful, a caregiver, but she is also cautious to become emotionally tied to anyone and so becomes an "o ...more
Oct 24, 2010 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read for the disaffected teenager.

Loa is struggling with a number of challenges. Her dad's out of work, her mom's got a drug problem, she doesn't fit in at school and her baby sister, Asta, is dead. The only person Loa can lean on for support is her friend Corey who's got issues of his own and is soon shipped off to Europe by his mom.

Then her friend Ester is hit by a car and Loa spirals further into depression, trying to use her love of science to explain enough of what's going o
Aug 08, 2010 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is sort of like the female version of Catcher in the Rye. Or maybe it would be what Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird might write as a senior in high school, if her best friend had died, and her world had fallen apart, giving her nightmares and PTSD. Can you tell I'm saying "literary classic" here? Because it really is a brilliant little book. I loved the scientific references, and the little bits from the classroom at the beginning of each chapter. It was so lovely to read an intellige ...more
May 09, 2012 Tracy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"I still have to do it. I just don't enjoy it.
That pretty much describes anything anymore."


"It is very hard not to remember something. It's easy to forget but very hard not to remember on purpose....

I know that I can't choose not to remember. I can't choose the slide show in my imagination.

I can practically hear my neurons laughing at me. The little shits."

That's the beginning and end of p. 147 of the copy of this book lent to me by the New York Public Library, and I think they've just bum
Susann Cokal
Jun 02, 2013 Susann Cokal rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Captures perfectly that sense of everything gone wrong around a lonely girl who's seen too much death in her harsh Montana environment. The strong voice implies throughout that there's always hope for someone with a sharp wit and the ability to love.
Aug 05, 2010 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-ya-faves
Utterly original, brazenly bizzare, and (by the end) kind of surprisingly sweet. While I didn't necessarily "love" this book (nor am I sure what teens I'd recommend it too) but I'm certainly still pondering this one -- and that's pretty darn cool. :)
Wikipedia's description of the Freak Observer
Also known as Boltzmann Brain, named after Ludwig Boltzmann, the physicist.
A hypothesized self-aware entity which arises due to random fluctuations out of a state of chaos...(say what???)

Loa Lindgren's description of the Freak Observer
"Everything has been simplified to a purple cereal bowl sitting on the table of time and space.
Inside the big bowl are other, tinier bowls. Each little bowl is a universe.
In a little blue bowl, there is a tiny Earth
Jan 17, 2011 Desiree rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Young Adults
I'm going to get straight to the basics to explain why I rated this book 3 stars.

Characterization, for one, is very one dimensional. Loa is portrayed as a very intelligent, rational teenager in high school who is very interested in science and physics. This was interesting and unique, however, I feel that it's the only part of her character - aside from the panic attack in class that occurs midway through the story - that is believable and draws the reader in. She isolates herself from everyone,
Oct 30, 2012 Lina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are some books that you do an unkindness to when you read them too fast. I think this might be one of those books. Although I love thinking about physics, especially the quantum kind, I don't have a physics brain. Or a math brain. Or a very practical brain in general. But I understand the need for patterns, if only in a metaphorical sense and appreciate the beauty inherent in science and scientific theories.
Loa Lundgren, the protagonist in Woolston's The Freak Observer, loves physics too f
Jul 31, 2011 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, not-graphic, life, voice
"Death, life, astrophysics, and finding beauty in chaos," reads an apt line from the book trailer. I have to admit I'm still not entirely clear on just what the theoretical concept of a freak observer is, even though Loa, who is given it as a research topic for make-up credit in physics class, finds it a helpful metaphor as she copes with way more loss than any person should have to. In fact, if the sample school problems that introduce each chapter represented the events of those chapters, then ...more
Diana Welsch
I'm interested in science, and I've had troubles with PTSD due to trauma in my childhood/adolescence, so when I heard about this book, I definitely wanted to read it.

This book is about a teenaged Loa, a girl from a low-income family in Montana who has been dealing with scary dreams and panic attacks after a series of traumatic events. First, her seriously disabled younger sister, who was the core around which the family orbited, passed away. Second, she saw a lifelong acquaintance step in front
I don't summarize worth a dang, so if you need a summary, find it here. First up, this cover--this cover, people! On the whole, I think that these days middle grade and chapter books get the better covers--illustrations, significant objects, great color schemes--while YA has become a wasteland of severed heads, torsos, and wickedly photo-shopped faces. But Woolston's Morris Award Winning novel avoids that sad fate, and has a cover--and back cover--design that give the reader a huge, satisfying c ...more
Apr 19, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 19, 2011 Cornmaven rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: high-school
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 17, 2012 Josephine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book a while back, and now I'm going to try and recall scenes.
Rarely do I give books perfect scores, so it's like...a 4.3.
I think it's an interesting book. Loa is strangely lovable, for some weird reason.She's disturbing at times. Her mind works in strange ways (I'm not going to give an example).
(view spoiler)
Jan 18, 2011 Jan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Woolston just won the latest YALSA Morris Award, which recognizes a debut novel written for young adults.

This is a very unusual book, both in construction and in voice. Loa has suffered many losses in her life. She has lost her younger sister to a terrible genetic disorder and a friend to an auto accident, and to make things worse, her friend Corey has betrayed her. Loa is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and experiences terrible nightmares and flashbacks. Her way of coping is to b
Penny Johnson
I wanted to quit reading this book several times, but I was so anxious to find out if this poor young woman was ever going to get any help!! (I won't spoil it by telling you whether or not she did.) I wanted to scream at her parents, school counselors, teachers, and any other adult in her life. HEY! Can't you see this girl needs help?!!?

16-year-old Loa Lindgren is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. Her 8-year-old sister, an invalid since infancy, has died, sending her parents into a
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Blythe Woolston’s first novel, The Freak Observer, won the William C. Morris debut fiction award. She lives in Montana.
More about Blythe Woolston...

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“1. Heat the oven to Denial.
2. Prepare the pan with a spray of Anger.
3. Mix in two medium-size bargains with The Bony Guy.
4. Add 1/3 cup of Depression (tears will do if you want low-fat).
5. Bake...until you can jab a toothpick in your arm and it seems Acceptable.”
“I have seen teenage boys having sex, and they aren't so intense as babies who are figuring out that they have hands...” 2 likes
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