A Certain October
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A Certain October

3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  263 ratings  ·  63 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 accid...more
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published August 28th 2012 by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
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Diversity in Young Adult and Middle Grade
253rd out of 735 books — 315 voters
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Mock Printz 2013
73rd out of 92 books — 469 voters

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Teresa Bunner
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.
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
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...more
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
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.
Beth Dailey Kenneth
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
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.
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...more
Anna Owens
A Certain October is about a girl named Scotty, her family, and her two friends. This book was around the time that Scotty and her family had a very tragic event happen to them. Scotty was just getting close to an old enemy when something terrible happened, and she has to deal with the guilt of thinking it was al her fault. By the end of the book, Scotty has finally realized that it wasn't all her fault, and now she can sit back and enjoy life. I rated this 5 out of 5 stars because it was a some...more
Book #15 Read in 2014
A Certain October by Angela Johnson (YA)

I have enjoyed Johnson's books The First Part Last and Heaven and A Certain October kept that streak going....Scotty is in a train crash with her friend Kris and her younger autistic brother Keone. Scotty feels responsible for all that happens after the crash and tries to heal--inside and out. This is a good, quick read that has elements of teenage romance, humor and characters that one will care about.

Jan 11, 2011 Becky marked it as to-read
New Angela Johnson!
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
Dec 10, 2012 Tasha rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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...more
 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...more
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
Ms. Ramsborg
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.

Scotty is indirectly involved in an accident that takes the life of a high school friend and puts her younger brother in a coma. Scotty cannot get over the feeling that it is her fault... a deep pit for a 16 yr old to be in. Realistic teenage friendships and Johnson's clear, rich writing make this a good YA novel.
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
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...more
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

I have mad respect for anybody trying to protect the world from the worst of us. 53

Anna K's been sitting on my lap this whole time and I'm hoping it's filled with the truth about love and other diasters. 64

Damn. It's still the Midwest around here, no matter how many open-minded people you surround yourself with. 149

Notes from Mock Printz discussion: levels of superficiality and profound grief (sadness but worrying about Twinkies?) that the brother was autistic was just a fact didn't become an "...more
Marathon County Public Library MCPL

A tragic accident lands Scotty's brother in a coma and kills a classmate. She is used to sitting back and letting life happen to her. While mourning and recovering, she realizes her own power to make a difference reconciling relationships and beginning new ones. A coming-of-age story recommended for fans of Lauren Myracle and John Green.

Katie Z. / Marathon County Public Library
Find this book in our library catalog.
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
While I enjoyed the story--read it in one sitting--it just didn't leave much of an impression on me. Scotty is a teen girl who blames herself for an accident that takes the life of a friend and injures her autistic younger brother. The story is about how she comes to forgive herself and reach out to her friends and family again. What I liked especially about the story is the friendship between the straight kids and the gay kids, and how relationship threads that had unraveled or that hadn't yet...more
Shannon Grieshaber
Another book where minority characters make good choices! Thank you, publishing world. Angela Johnson writes this book in a way that the reader forgets these characters are African American and just sees them as people. Wow. What a concept! I loved these things about this book.

The story itself is simple. Scotty and her autistic brother, Keone, are involved in a train accident which leaves Keone in a coma and one of Scotty's friends, dead. The plot revolves around how Scotty copes with the accide...more
SharonJH Harman
Angela Johnson writes stories with teens who seem real. And, true to the title, it covers a month in Scotty's life: the family dynamics, the close friends and their lives, the upcoming Homecoming dance, the train accident that injures her and her autistic brother and kills a classmate. As she recovers from her grief, life goes on. This is such a step up from urban fiction, with complex characters and a real storyline, plus its brevity will be a draw to teens who think they don't want to read. Ve...more
Robyn Young
Scotty's life changes when she is in a terrible accident. With her are a boy she might like to get to know better and her brother, who has autism. Scotty feels horrible guilt over what happens, but the story is about how she goes on with her life in the face of tragedy.

The writing is a little stilted at the beginning, going between very proper English and street English, but that clears up (or the reader becomes accustomed to it) the more you read. The story is a fast read and reluctant readers...more
Naa Adoley
Not really the best.
Mark Flowers
Many of the same objections to this one as to The First Part Last - as much as it pains me to say (as a committed proponent of the short novel) Johnson just tries to do too much in too little space. I did like this one a little better than First Part (especially the sections with the autistic brother and his accident and recovery - but these were all so underplayed it's hard to believe they happened). In any case, I guess I'm just not the right reader for Johnson. Oh well.
A lot happens in this short book (which I think makes it accessible to many students). It's yet another case where I think the book jacket gives away too much of the plot. At times, it felt rather disjointed, but maybe that's to reflect the way a teen would think. It starts to jump a bit out of order. You will care about Scotty and her well-being, as many of her hopes, fears and doubts are articulated beautifully. Part of the ending is a bit implausible.
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“Damn. It's still the Midwest around here, no matter how many open-minded people you surround yourself with.” 3 likes
“My life is like tofu--it's what gets added that makes it interesting.” 1 likes
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