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A Certain October

3.47  ·  Rating Details ·  403 Ratings  ·  83 Reviews
Three-time Coretta Scott King Award–winner Angela Johnson writes a wrenching, honest book about surviving the unimaginable and finding a way to go on.

Scotty compares herself to tofu: no flavor unless you add something. And it’s true that Scotty’s friends, Misha and Falcone, and her brother, Keone, make life delicious. But when a terrible accident occurs, Scotty feels respo
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published August 28th 2012 by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
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Rebecca McNutt
A Certain October is a great book, going into the life of Scotty, who after a traumatic event finds her family dysfunctional and her mind falling to pieces. It's up to her to pick them up and put them back together again, and the upcoming dance is her opportunity.
Mar 03, 2013 Suzanne rated it liked it
First Part Last was also a slim volume, but it packed so much more of a punch than A Certain October. As a main character, Scotty doesn't make much of an impression, compared to her gorgeous and confident best friends. Misha always gets attention but is determined to stay true to herself even when chosen for the Homecoming Court, tattoos and dreads and all. Falcone is out to his father and a sympathetic sounding board. Scotty is primarily defined by her misery and grief in the face of tragedy. A ...more
Teresa Bunner
Feb 21, 2012 Teresa Bunner rated it really liked it
My book has the title A Certain October. Goodreads has it listed under this title. Either way, it's a beautifully written very poignant book about life. Thank you Angela for offering us teen characters who are silly, strong, loving and kind. And thank you for making the teen boys gentlemen. Our teens need to see more characters like these.
Jan 05, 2013 Annette rated it liked it
While I found A Certain October entertaining enough as I read it, I don't think it is a memorable book.

Scotty stays busy with her friends and family and taking care of Keone, her autistic little brother. A terrible accident kills a new friend of Scotty's and puts her brother in a coma. Scotty blames herself.

That's pretty much it. We get to know Scotty and her friends, then we experience the terrible accident and go through Scotty's turmoil afterwards.

The book is very short and quickly read, howe
Dec 07, 2015 Sharon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Had A Certain October been written in a more linear fashion, I would have easily given it four stars. The author takes too long to get to the heart of the story, namely a tragedy that shakes Scotty to her very core. Although this book is very short, the character of Scotty is exceedingly well developed. Her anguish, then jubilation, comes through very clearly and the small snapshot into her life definitely had me interested. The author uses the flashback method, as well as the "it was just a dre ...more
Aug 30, 2013 Phoebe rated it it was ok
Shelves: yareads
What I enjoy about Angela Johnson's books withstanding (integrated community, eloquence and art to her narrative style, ambiguous "gray space" themes and topics), A Certain October fell short for me as a novel. For one, the central plot isn't revealed until around page 40, and even then I'm not sure what has happened or what the protagonist -Scotty- is planning to do about it. Scotty's autistic younger brother is important to the book, but for some reason reads kind of like an afterthought. Fina ...more
Ms. Schutte
Aug 04, 2013 Ms. Schutte rated it liked it
Confession: I didn't finish this. It's not a bad book--I just got bored. Angela Johnson is fabulous and amazing, but I just feel like I've read this book a million times before and there wasn't enough originality to make me want to read it again: Awesome girl with fabulous, hilarious pseudo-misfit friends and an autistic younger brother gets caught in the middle of a freak accident that completely rips her world apart and makes her feel like every bad thing is her fault. It's a coming-of-age rit ...more
Beth Dailey Kenneth
Oct 10, 2012 Beth Dailey Kenneth rated it liked it
I found it hard to connect with the main character. I liked her but I wasn't drawn in to her story. I liked how she truly grieved with a support system of friends and family but hated that the book magically ended in a limo after prom--the perfect night with the perfect couples.

Contains: African-Americans, autism, gay couple
Feb 23, 2013 Richelle rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya, tayshas-2013
This book didn't strike me as typical Angela Johnson fare. It was told in a very straightforward manner at a very slow pace. The climax of the book, and the events leading up to it, were not very....well....climactic. I felt like there was too much history behind all of these characters for it to be such a short book. I left it feeling very unsatisfied.
Nov 21, 2012 Kathie rated it really liked it
While initially confusing because of non-linear format, this short but powerful book was very readable. Johnson packs a lot into a very short book about love, loss, coming of age teen experience. Scotty as first person narriator was so honest about everything. Good to pass on to a teen with an autistic sibling, loss of a sibling.
Jan 11, 2011 Rebecca marked it as to-read
New Angela Johnson!
Nov 04, 2016 Keith rated it liked it
This story was pretty disjointed for me. The style was supposed to be fluid and it may have even been intentional by the author to have the narrator flit from one thought to another and from one scene to another without any transition or purpose, but it didn't really work for me. I understand that that is what life is like, but it just made it hard for me to connect with the characters.
 Imani ♥ ☮
One thing you cannot say about Angela Johnson is that her writing is convoluted. Despite the contrast in their writing, in terms of style, this author is a bit like Ernest Hemingway.

I don't necessarily like this type of writing. I guess that's why I struggled when I read Old Man and the Sea and all of Angela Johnson's other novellas (because, let's face it. Most of her books are really short).

But perhaps tolerance to a form of writing different from long, winding, descriptive paragraphs, comes w
Oct 03, 2016 KWilliams rated it really liked it
The book A Certain October is a well-written book that explores many different struggles that some people may go through or know someone who went through a similar situation. It is a good read and a good way to spend your free time. You should check it out.
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Subject: Special Needs, Death/Grief, Relationships, LGBT
Grade Levels: 9-12

Curriculum Connections:
This novel is a study in character motivations and the effects of character choices on the plot of the novel. Students can create in depth studies of Scotty and the choices she makes when she is faced with the tragedy that placed her brother in a coma and resulted in the death of a friend.

Brief Summary:
Scotty is a teenage girl making her way through high school with her tw
Rocio Martin
May 03, 2015 Rocio Martin added it
Shelves: project-1
Johnson, A. (2012) A certain october. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Review (Posted by Kirkus Review – Scotty's world is turned upside down when an accident leaves her brother severely injured, an acquaintance dead and Scotty feeling responsible. In the fall of Scotty's junior year of high school, it appears all she has to worry about is reading Anna Karenina and the Homecoming dance. Scotty, who has been a vegetarian since last year's visit to a dairy farm, describes her
Jez Layman
Johnson does it again! Her exact prose provides a wide variety of problems (and solutions) in a very short amount of pages. This doesn't quite live up to The First Part Last because even though there is a tragic event in this one as well, there's not as much of an emotional punch. Additionally, having recently read See You at Harry's, which tackles a very similar situation (a younger brother being involved in an accident), this book fell a little flat for me compared to the far more emotional Kn ...more
Kristle Steele
Johnson, A. (2012) A Certain October. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster BFYR.

Original Review:
Sometimes, what makes us unique is not our hair color, our clothes or our family structure, but our unique perspective and method of coping in the face of loss. Just like love is unique, so is the hole we must find a way to fill up. Scotty feels like it is all her fault, the train wreck, the presence of her nemesis-cum-potentially-more friend, the inability to handle the real world and her brother’s co
Dec 10, 2012 Tasha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teen
Johnson continues to write powerful books in a short format. Here we meet Scotty, a teenage girl who thinks of herself as rather bland, like tofu. The people around her seem more vibrant and complex like her little brother who has autism and enjoys trains, being naked, and eating cookies. Her best friends too seem to be more interesting to Scotty. Then in October everything changes because of a train accident. Scotty’s little brother is injured severely and another boy is killed. Scotty feels re ...more
Aug 06, 2014 Marsha rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: preteens, young adults
Recommended to Marsha by: daughter
Ever had a book you couldn't put down? This was one of them. I'm a huge fan of Angela Johnson's books and wish they were available to me during my preteen-young adolescent years. But a good book is good for any age.
There are many things I like about "A Certain October" particularly the backdrop. It is not often I read a book with familiar places—East Cleveland, Coventry, Fairmount, the Metroparks, the "Rapid" transit system... are all places from my own upbringing. And October is also my favori
McKenna Kelly
Mar 23, 2016 McKenna Kelly rated it liked it
“A Certain October” by Angela Johnson is about a teenage girl named Scotty. On the train ride home after taking her autistic brother, Keone, to the doctor the train crashes. Someone Scotty was just starting to know died in the crash along with other people. Scotty blames herself for this because he wouldn’t have been on the train when it crashed if it weren’t for her. Keone ends up being in a coma. Scotty accepts the fact that it happened and it wasn’t her fault, and Keone wak
Sep 04, 2012 Kelly rated it it was ok
This tightly written and subtle novel explores grief and loss. It's a quieter story that follows Scotty as she deals with losing a guy who was once her friend due to a small choice she believes she forced him into. Likewise, Scotty deals with her autistic brother's long-term hospital stay as a result of the same accident.

It's a sad story, but the way Scotty deals with death is through appreciating the little things going on in her life. She takes steps forward, but once in a while is knocked ba
May 07, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Scotty lives in Cleveland and has 2 best friends, Misha and Falcone. Scotty lives with her father and stepmom Laura and her young autistic brother Keone. Keone loves trains and super heroes. Scotty has to take Keone to his doctor's office for a visit and they take the train. There is an accident and Keone winds up in a coma. One of Scotty's classmates is killed and she is now with a knee brace and serious bruises. The story focuses on Scotty's guilt about something she had no control over. We ge ...more
Ms. Ramsborg
Sep 09, 2013 Ms. Ramsborg rated it really liked it
Book Title: A Certain October
Lexile: 870

In a nutshell: Scotty gets into an accident that puts her little brother in a coma. She’s trying to deal with getting back to normal teenager life and her brother’s injuries with him being in the hospital.

I liked this book because the emotions felt so real. For example, when Scotty visited her brother Keone in the hospital, it was so sad. I could also understand how Scotty felt around Jason because she really likes him and he makes her a little nervous.

May 25, 2013 Christina rated it really liked it
A sweet, quiet book about healing, both mentally and physically. Scotty, a junior in high school, lives in East Cleveland with her dad, stepmother (who is a good friend to her), and seven-year-old autistic brother Keone. She has a great life, hanging out with friend Misha and trying to help gay friend Falcone get back together with his ex-boyfriend. But suddenly in October everything changes, in a tragic event that is foreshadowed in the beginning, as Scotty recalls that month as a turning point ...more
Adriana Bustelo
Sep 07, 2016 Adriana Bustelo rated it liked it
I thought that this book was a good book. Was it my favorite? No, but it was still a good book. I would recommend it to a high schooler but no younger because there is some language that I don't think younger kids (5th graders or 6th graders) should be reading. It was very slow moving in the beginning of the book but it got a lot better towards the middle of the book.
Sep 12, 2012 Reving rated it it was amazing
When you see it's by Angela Johnson...even before you finish it, you KNOW it is going to get 5 of 5 stars. That's just the kind of writer that Johnson is. This book should win the Printz this year, but it won't because it is too good. Poet, honest, real, different, heart-breaking, beautiful, that's A Certain October.
The book chronicle's Scotty's life during the month of October when she is on a train and a boy she sort of new from school is killed in a terrible train accident, which also leaves
May 27, 2016 Gabby rated it really liked it
A Certain October is a book that follows the life of Scotty, a 11th grade girl living in inner-city Cleveland just going through the motions. In the beginning, Scotty sees her life "bland like tofu" she hasn't had anything to spice it up. But everything changes when on a train ride home with her autistic brother turns into a train crash, leaving her brother in a coma and a new friend dead. She carries a guilt on her shoulders; thinking if only they had walked home her brother wouldn't be in a co ...more
Mar 23, 2014 Alicia rated it it was ok
The book is short yet with the flashbacks meeting the current timeline not told in chronological order, it is confusing to many readers until you start to see how the book will unfold in telling the story of Scotty's guilt in being a part of the death of a friend as well as her comatose autistic brother.

The book focuses on family and friends, Scotty's families and their differences to the vanilla-life of Scotty, or more specifically the tofu life, and the family in which Scotty must help take c
Feb 11, 2013 Victoria rated it really liked it
This book is absolutely right now 2013 in the high school scene in terms of technology, language, social issues. It also seems timeless and universal in the way it deals with big issues like family love, disability, grief, and survivor guilt. As an older reader, I am not excluded, but invited into Scotty's friendships, family, and experience of the train wreck after which her life will never be the same again. We all have these experiences and the way we come through them determines so much abou ...more
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“My life is like tofu—it's what gets added that makes it interesting.” 672 likes
“Damn. It's still the Midwest around here, no matter how many open-minded people you surround yourself with.” 3 likes
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