The fourteen-year-old narrator of In Zanesville is a late bloomer; a sidekick, a marching band dropout, a disastrous babysitter, the kind of girl whose Eureka moment is the discovery that 'fudge' can't be said with an English accent. Luckily, she has a best friend with whom she shares the everyday adventures of a 1970s American girlhood. In time, their friendship is tested...more
I had a look and the one that really got under my skin was by Jo Ann Beard, a description of a day no one should have involving a dying pet, a dead r ...more
And she was right.
This is the story of two girls on the cusp of adolescence, and about what it means to grow up in a small town as well as how friendships grow and change. The writing in this is so real that many of the situations feel raw and uncomfortable, yet so familiar that I was glued to the page. Reading this book low-key stresse ...more
Though I have to admit I wonder a lot about why Beard called this a novel: the characters are clearly the people from The Boys of My Youth. I've read a lot on-line about her "unnamed" narrator, but, at one point, she pretty clearly states that her name is Jo (when she's talking about Little Women, she says one of the characters has her name and she's the one who shows up for another book -- wh ...more
From the startling, smoky beginning scene to the introduction of a bowl of malted milk balls, the plot and setting zig just when you expect them to zag, and delightfully so. ...more
I would have loved to give this book five stars, but I couldn't bring myself to do it because, and I hate bein ...more
This was a tough one for me to get through. And I fell asleep reading it multiple times. This could in part be due to the fact that I had just gotten home from vacation. But also because I just couldn't get into this book.
It starts off when the 14-year-old narrator and her friend are babysitting some kids who set the hous ...more
So needless to say, Jo Ann Beard got me at the detailed list of clothing the nameless fourteen year old narrator and her friend Felicia put on laya ...more
The previous night I'd watched the teen-aged girl next door waiting to get picked up by a carload of friends. She and her mom and her mom's boyfriend had all busted out of the house with this contagious giddy Friday fever. The girl needed a couple flashlights. Her mom gave her one, she clicked it on and off, made swirls of light. Her mom's boyfriend went to his truck to get another.
"Don't lose it," h ...more
This is a solid 3.5 based on these two things alone, there just really is not much of a story. Jo (maybe, you aren't ever completely sure if that is her name) tells the tales of friendship, family, growing up and leavin ...more
First off, the writing is that of a true stylis ...more
From the opening pages I was swept into Zanesville. A small town where people's lives are a bit hidden, but as in all small towns, known as well, making it difficult to h ...more
Fiiiiiive stars? Yeah, okay. This is partly because… I just want more people to pay attention to this book, and this writer. Please.
I will also say this right off the bat, to get a few people's attention, which is, RIYL: Lynda Barry. These girls, they are Lynda Barry's spiritual children, they are full-flesh neighbors of Arna and Marlys and everyone. Wrong and awkward and hurting and mistaken, and silly. Carrying on with their stuff while the hard and ...more
While the book's opening pages are very engaging, its the best part in terms o ...more
In the first half or so, the narrator's perspective and observations come across as alternately chi ...more
I’m a big fan of good young adult fiction for its sense of self-centeredness, desperation, and hope. I’m also a big fan of good adult adult fiction for its bleakness, meditativeness, humor, and realism. This book is the best of both of my favorite fictional worlds. Jo Ann Beard moves seamlessly through adolescent junior high school scenes and dialogue to the adult meditations of her narrator, combining both the more tactile aspects of young adult fiction and t ...more
Jo Ann Beard's In Zanesville owned my soul this past weekend. Her unnamed narrator, a 14 year old girl, is staggering through a life on the brink of collapse. And Beard's debut novel will haunt and encourage you long after you've put it back on the top shelf of your bookcase.
In Zanesville opens with a simple, horrifying scene: the narrator and her best friend, Felicia (called Flea), are babysitting a family of chi ...more