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Paper Covers Rock

3.4 of 5 stars 3.40  ·  rating details  ·  1,849 ratings  ·  373 reviews
Michael L. Printz Honor Award-winning author of And We StayJenny Hubbard’s powerful debut novel.

“One of the best young adult books I’ve read in years.”—PAT CONROY

Paper Covers Rock is dazzling in its intensity and intelligence, spell-binding in its terrible beauty.” —KATHI APPELT, author of the Newbery Honor Book The Underneath

Sixteen-year-old Alex has just begun his ju
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published June 14th 2011 by Delacorte Press
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I have to give at least four stars for Hubbard's poetic, literary writing and complex narrative structure (it's more of a set of connected vignettes that move back and forth in time than a straight forward-momentum shot). I also have to give at least four stars to the actual poems in the novel, written by Alex, the narrator, a couple of which gave me the shivers.

As for my overall enjoyment and emotional investment, though, I can't give this more than 2 stars. I'll try to get more into why this d
Initial reaction: "Paper Covers Rock" has some brilliant pieces to its whole. For one, it's a story that takes place in the 1980s at an all boys school in North Carolina, with a protagonist dealing with the aftermath of a friend's death. Alex is a poet and finds refuge in his writing for dealing with the grief, but then he suspects his teacher might know something surrounding Thomas's (his friend's) death. Particularly since she was on the scene in the aftermath.

I'm kind of at a loss for words b
I had a lot of issues with this book, starting with the unbelievable male voice but perhaps mostly with the fact this book is set in the 1980s for no apparent reason. The setting is not necessary then, and there's no context for it.

Alex was boring to me.

The thing is, this is a more literary novel, and there's some stuff with that, and I think this is the kind of book that could get some award-y attention. But for me, it was really one note, and I can't quite see my kids eager to read it. A lit
Paper Covers Rock is a literary tale which explores the honour code of an all boys’ boarding school. It is a novel that transcends genre and is hard to define – it is part thriller, part coming of age story, part exploration of grief, loss, sanity and love. It is also pays homage to the Great American Novel and yet at times it questions that weighty label. Between so few pages, Jenny Hubbard weaves a story about transgressions with the poetry of life and the nature of truth. It is not an easily ...more
Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard has a high literary tone. It reminds me of Catcher in the Rye or The Dead Poet's Society based on the characterization and quality of writing, as well as the incorporation of other literary works within the story. While I enjoyed this book, I'm not sure it would appeal to a large number of readers.

The story is paralleled extensively with Herman Melville's Moby Dick. The protagonist, Alex, uses it as a guide to express himself and deal with what has happened to
Morgan Elliott
I'm not even sure what to say about this book. How about I start with what I liked?

I love her writing style, to me it seems almost poetic in itself. Having it the form of a journal was brilliant, I thought. Even if it made it a little harder to follow because he would jump around in what he wrote, though there seemed to be some kind of crazy order to that chaos. His fascination with Herman Melville was interesting. He couldn't even get past the first chapter but it seemed to help him create his
Barclay Sparrow
This book was required summer reading for my AP Lit class, and I have a developing case of senioritis.

This book was also the first required book that I have ever read in one day.

I loved it. I didn't understand all of the allusions and got a little thrown off by the continuity on occasion, but I had a really difficult time putting it down. It has been so long since I couldn't put a book down that I forgot what it felt like.

As for solid reasons, the best I can give is not only the literal poetry (
Set in a boys' boarding school in the early 1980s, this novel is short but heavy. Though the main characters are adolescents (high school juniors), the condensed, descriptive writing style suggests coming-of-age literary fiction, not YA. Told from the main character's point of view as though written in a journal, Paper Covers Rock is a narrative of confession and guilt. Alex's friend, Thomas, died in a questionable accident at a pond on the grounds of their school, and there are possible implica ...more
Oct 04, 2011 Phoebe rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Deborah, Telesa
Shelves: realistic-fiction, ya
A realistic fiction novel set at a boys' boarding school in the 1980s, described from the perspective of 16-year-old Alex, whose year starts off with the drowning of his good friend Thomas. Vodka and camaraderie among Clay, Alex, Glenn, and Thomas turn into a daring contest, with Thomas diving off the huge and dangerously positioned rock and entering the river headfirst. Alex's journal, hidden in the school library, tells the story in bits and pieces, as he permits himself to remember the events ...more
Alana Massa
Alex has just started his junior year at an all boys boarding school when the accident happened. His friend Thomas has drowned. Is it Alex's fault? If the staff finds out the truth of what really happened that day will he and some of his fellow classmates be expelled from school? When the autopsy report comes back they found alcohol in Thomas' blood. Who else was drinking? One boy took the fall for the rest and was expelled. But who else was drinking? What really happened that day? Did Miss Dove ...more
Why I picked it up: the author is from my area and the book is set in North Carolina.

The book is in the format of Alex’s journal. Alex is a junior at an all-boys boarding school. In late September, his friend Thomas died by jumping off a rock into a river close to campus. It was supposed to be an initiation, and Alex was one of the boys present at Thomas’s death. And the truth about that day is difficult for him to ignore, even as his classmate pressures him into keeping their cover.

Well, I’m no
Jennifer Lavoie
I wanted to check out this book and then I got it at the recommendation of the YA librarian at my public library. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

I listed it under my LGBT tag because there are some issues regarding homosexuality and some of the characters. I also listed it under based on classics because Moby Dick and many poets come up and are mentioned and discussed in the book. There are some sections where the narrator calls himself Is Male like Moby Dick's "Call me Ishmael."

As t
I keep on waffling between deciding whether this should be 4 or 5 stars. It's one hell of a novel, incredibly written and dripping with subtext and deep symbolism.

The one issue, and what I think means I'll have to go with 4 stars instead of 5, is that I'm finding it hard to buy that this is supposed to be the voice of a 16 year-old boy. If it were from the perspective of someone looking back upon his time at boarding school, I'd have no issues with it. As it stands, while Hubbard nails the mind
i think this author has writing chops, but this book didn't work for me as a YA story for (presumably) a largely male audience. the voice of the main character, as many reviewers have already noted, did not ring true for me. he was a wooden boy who skewed much older than 16 & lacked a beating heart. perhaps the author did this on purpose to show a teen boy shutting down in the face of a tragedy, but it needed something more to make me a believer. the author was incredibly creative with inser ...more
I can't quite bring myself to give this the 3 star "I liked this" rating, because while there were enjoyable moments, I had to double check a few times when I got to the end to see that it actually was the end, ending up feeling more let down than having just finished an enjoyable book. I don't think it would have been so frustrating had the entire book not been written as if it were building to some big moment that never actually came. The actual climax, as it is, was the most underdeveloped pa ...more
If I could give this 4.5 stars, I would. It was a little weird at the end, but the vast majority of this powerful book was engaging and fascinating. A lot of people have compared it to A Separate Peace, but I think this is much better. The main character, Alex, is in love with his English teacher, Miss Dovecott, and wants to impress her with his poetry; his writing is sprinkled liberally throughout the book, and since Miss Dovecott loves Moby Dick, he has titled each chapter of this journal-as-b ...more
Deborah Takahashi
Alex Stromm is a junior at Birch School, a boarding school for boys. What was supposed to be another year of endless classes and trying to fit in, Thomas, Alex's best friend, drowns in the lake near school. Unfortunately, what was supposed to be an accident, escalates into an interrogation for Alex and his friend, Glenn. In fact, when Glenn, Clay, and Alex were asked what had happened, they did something they never though they would do: they lied. Although Alex is struggling with the death of hi ...more
Dec 04, 2012 Ed added it
Hubbard, J. (2011). Paper covers rock. New York: Random House/Delacorte. 185 pp. ISBN: 978-0-385-74055-5. (Hardcover); $17.99.*

Alex is a boarding school student with an ear for language in a school for the elite. Wracked by guilt for his failure to save a drowning classmate, Alex vents some of his emotion through his poetry. Miss Dovecott, his English teacher and object of his fantasies, is a wise and perceptive young educator. She happened to be one of the first adults on the scene the night dr
Is Male, Alex, starts writing in the journal his father gave him at the beginning of the school year. He's started after one of his best friends dies. Is Male is not the most direct narrator however, and tells you many stories around his friend's death. Slowly in brief passages the truth of what happened at the rock comes out. Is Male didn't know the whole story, he still isn't sure what is true. His journal helps him through his journey though, helps him be okay.

So, I have never read Moby Dick.
This is an extremely intelligent, literary book following a 1980s teen's experience with a tragic alcohol related death, for which he believes himself to be responsible. He keeps a journal under a pseudonym to try to work this out in his mind. It's an inward journey that is poignant and recognizably one about truth in its many forms.

The teen characters are all very believable. I at first had an issue with the young, female teacher (at an all boys boarding school), until I realized she is just b
It had the feel of "Dead Poets Society" in that it featured a somewhat above average boy in boarding school with a talent for writing. I felt the anguish of Alex as he sorted through his emotions of supporting the friendship honor code versus the school honor code, and in dealing with his crush on his English teacher. There was also references to other literary works, with the main one being Moby Dick. This book makes me want to finally read Moby Dick. I picked up this book because it was in the ...more
Paper Covers Rock is a well-written and eminently readable novel. Ms. Hubbard weaves shadings of A Separate Peace and The Chocolate Wars within the pages, and like those novels, this was a difficult "coming of age" story for me to read. The characters, especially Alex and Glenn, are well-drawn and though similar to those in the other novels, they, especially Alex, are unique. In artistic expression and creativity, Alex stands apart from these other characters, a student who really "ponders" and ...more
Photina Haumschilt
Award Winner

Paper Covers Rock is Alex's journal about the accidental drowning of his friend Thomas. His journal tells the story of what happened to Thomas, the events following his death, the life at an all boys boarding school and his own thoughts and suspicions surrounding his friend Glenn. There is only one person who suspects there is something more to the story Alex, Glenn, and Clay gave, Miss Dovecott, the new English teacher. Through her assignments she tries to bring Al
Alex es un buen protagonista, pero todo lo que le rodea es demasiado duro, y al final, una serie de pasos le encaminan hacia un futuro que no es justo, pero a la vez, solo puedo decir que él no peleó por tomar otro rumbo. Que al final del todo hubiera cambiado de opinión, no habría sido malo, pero Alex tuvo miedo, y no puedo culparle por ello, pero en verdad duele ese futuro que se está hilando, un futuro donde aquello que ha perdido es su propio corazón, y Alex demuestra que no es malo, y que n ...more
Paper Cover Rock by Jenny Hubbard was about 180 pages of realistic fiction and/or drama novel. The book is about a junior boy named Alex in an all boys boarding school. In September his friend Thomas died by jumping off a rock into a river. What really happened that day is hard for him to ignore, even though his friend Glen is forcing him not to tell a soul. The book is like his journal. He puts all his thoughts in it, past or present. I liked the book because when I first started reading it I d ...more
Patricia Vanasse
I'm amazed by its complex narrative structure and the beautiful literary writing.
Alex's poems are raw and blend well with the story. I can't wait to read more from Jenny Hubbard.
Katrina Gudgeon
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
... All I can say is, "A Separate Peace," anyone? That's all I could think about as I read this book: Jenny Hubbard has written a modern version of "A Separate Peace." Maybe that's not an entirely fair statement; I have to honestly admit that it's been awhile since I've read "A Separate Peace," and maybe the books are more different than I remember. But the whole boy's school, "Golden Boy-who-isn't-so-golden" ringleader, secrets, boys drowning in rivers, a narrator with a guilty conscience... ju ...more
Krista Stevens
Circle - William C. Morris Debut Award Finalist (ALA). This started out as a five for me and dropped to a three. At first I thought it would be a great summer read companion for "A Separate Peace". Sixteen-year old Alex is at a boarding school when his friend dies in a swimming accident. Or is it? That part is actually okay and the guilt Alex feels and how he deals with it is very realistic.

Then the whole story seems to get sidetracked by twin threads of sexuality. One - the struggle with sexual
The book opens with the narrator explaining why, after two years of letting the journal his father gave him when he went away to boarding school lay fallow on his shelf, he is now writing in his journal. The narrator, Alex Stromm, is writing the journal for himself spurred to do so by the death of his friend and classmate, Thomas Broughton, from drowning. Alex's thoughts, feelings, and overall reaction to this event comprise the rest of the novel. The story he tells involves another friend, Glen ...more
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Mock Printz 2016: Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard 3 44 Nov 04, 2011 09:13AM  
  • Life: An Exploded Diagram
  • Tripping
  • Exposed
  • Under the Mesquite
  • Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein
  • The Watch That Ends the Night
  • Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine, and the Lawless Years of Prohibition
  • Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It: False Apology Poems
  • Come on All You Ghosts
  • Love and Leftovers
  • And Then Things Fall Apart
  • The Sharp Time
  • Adios, Nirvana
  • Compulsion
  • Leverage
  • Blink and Caution
  • Taking Off
  • The Downside of Being Charlie
A former high-school and college English teacher for 17 happy years, Jenny now practices what she preached: the discipline of rewriting, which, in her humble opinion, is the key to a writer’s success.

Jenny is represented by Jonathan Lyons of Curtis Brown, LTD, New York City.
More about Jenny Hubbard...
And We Stay

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“Read to your heart's content. Though if you are a reader, the heart is never content.” 40 likes
“Reading, she tells me, is what she does best. She loves it because it uses the whole of her, the right and the left, the hemispheres of reason and imagination. She discovered as a child that a closed book is a darkness anyone can enter, not a cary darkness like a basement or a storm, but a comforting one that wrapped her up neatly inside a world she could control.” 14 likes
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