Great, engaging story of friendships, opening up to new things, and healing from old wounds. The artwork is excellent, and I found myself going back t...moreGreat, engaging story of friendships, opening up to new things, and healing from old wounds. The artwork is excellent, and I found myself going back to revisit all the shadows that follow the main character throughout the story. Fun read, with a strong message - I'll be passing this one along to my daughter next. (less)
“Maybe we only tell our scary secrets when we have no choice.”
Piddy Sanchez lives with her mother, in a broken-down apartment in Queens. She’s happy w...more“Maybe we only tell our scary secrets when we have no choice.”
Piddy Sanchez lives with her mother, in a broken-down apartment in Queens. She’s happy with her school, but once her mother decides to finally move them to another building in town, her life takes a turn for the worse. At Daniel Jones High School, she doesn’t know anyone, and through no fault of her own, one of the roughest kids in the school, Yaqui Delgado, decides she doesn’t like Piddy. When Yaqui and her friends jump and beat Piddy on her street, not only is Piddy battered and scarred, but video of the beating appears online. Piddy begins to skip school, hoping to not only avoid Yaqui, but to avoid any semblance of her old life. It’s only when she is forced to open up to an old family friend, that she can begin to make any changes to her situation.
This is certainly a powerful book about bullying, but it’s also a tale of family and friendship. We learn much about Piddy’s mother, her past with Piddy’s absent father, and Piddy’s relationships with friends from both her old and new schools. For me, though, the emotional investment wasn’t quite there, although the depiction of school culture is perfectly drawn. Good book for younger readers as well as older. (less)
If I wasn't packing for a conference, I'd write a more thorough review - this will have to hold its place for now:
I read a lot, and I read a lot of YA...moreIf I wasn't packing for a conference, I'd write a more thorough review - this will have to hold its place for now:
I read a lot, and I read a lot of YA. Not only is this probably the best book I've read all year, it's one of the best I've ever read. To label it only as "YA," though, is to miss the point of the book. This is a coming-of-age story that is going to be on award lists next year, and I hope will be widely read for years to come. Andrew Smith has always written strong books that impact readers, but he hits it out of the park with this novel, and he absolutely nails the adolescent male mindset (think lots of sexual thoughts, like, a ton). I want to go back and read it all again, and I read this one slowly, because I wanted to savor it.
Read it. Read it. Read it. You will not be disappointed.(less)
**spoiler alert** "There was never a magic moment when I knew why dying had called to me, just like there was never a magic moment when I decided I wa...more**spoiler alert** "There was never a magic moment when I knew why dying had called to me, just like there was never a magic moment when I decided I wanted to live instead. My mother had been looking for the same magic reason, I knew. She wanted an explanation. Hell, she deserved one, too.
Nicki also wanted the magic reason - more for her dad than for me - but what I'd told her was all I had to give, this spewing of the worst that was inside me.
'I'm sorry,' I whispered. My knee ached and burned under her hand.
Where would I begin?"
Sixteen year-old Ryan has recently been released from Patterson, the mental hospital where he was sent after a suicide attempt. His friends from the hospital, Val and Jake, have also been released to their respective homes, and Ryan is trying to manage his days on his own, while also under the watchful eyes of his parents. As a way to get away, he regularly goes to a waterfall near his house. There, he meets Nicki, a girl who initially seems to ask too many questions, but who eventually discloses to Ryan that her own father had committed suicide. Nicki is trying to find answers to why, and Ryan may be her best hope to figure out what would push a person to that brink. For Ryan, Nicki is the first person who hasn't treated him with kid gloves, who isn't afraid to ask him tough questions. As the two become closer, he begins to open up to her about the events that drove him to his attempt, and trusts her more than anyone else in his life. But when he discovers that Nicki has been lying to him about important things,
This is probably more of a 3.5 star book for me - I appreciate the fact that Hubbard has written a book about recovering from suicidal depression, but the plot moved slowly for me, and while that helped give space and time to develop Ryan and Nicki's characters, the secondary characters all felt somewhat flat - even Val, who had a key role in Ryan's development. The dialogue rings true, and I did like how the resolution was positive, without being overly so. And I liked the way Hubbard emphasizes that Ryan's depression was not brought on by any one traumatic event, but rather by a series of seemingly-minor episodes, and how depression can happen to anyone, even those people who come from "good," stable families. The effects of Ryan's suicide attempt, and its aftermath, on both him and his family, are powerful. Overall, a very good read about an extremely important subject. (less)
I think this one would have been even more enjoyable if I had read some of Pinkwater's other works. Still, this is a fun read, with strong doses of ab...moreI think this one would have been even more enjoyable if I had read some of Pinkwater's other works. Still, this is a fun read, with strong doses of absurdity and art history thrown in for good measure. (less)