**spoiler alert** The hook for this book gripped me: a teenage boy is haunted by his past as the boy who pooped on stuff on a nanny reality show. Just...more**spoiler alert** The hook for this book gripped me: a teenage boy is haunted by his past as the boy who pooped on stuff on a nanny reality show. Just think about that. Imagine all the children who have appeared on reality TV in the past decade. Now they're teenagers, but the clips are available online to torture them forever. They are not the person they were ten years ago.
A. S. King takes this premise and ratchets it up many notches by making the protagonist, Gerald, the younger sibling on a psychopath. His older sister Tasha is insanely cruel, and her mother totally allows her to run her evil course in their family. Gerald's father retreats into his work and liquor, and Gerald's other sister moves to Scotland for college as soon as possible. Tasha calls Gerald gay and retarded in the presence of their mother who does not interfere.
This is a book that takes a good hard look at the harsh lives of people. Gerald's love interest comes from a family with problems of their own. Still, this book offers hope because Gerald faces his problems head-on (unlike his parents), and the ending is just totally killer. I loved it!
All of A. S. King's previous books make use of magical realism, and REALITY BOY is no different. Gerald escapes into a dream world consisting of ice cream and Disney princesses and circus trapezes not only when he daydreams, but also when he's driving a car or talking with someone. I didn't buy it as much as the other fantastical elements in King's other books, and I think the reason is because everything else in the book seemed so gritty and hard-hitting that Snow White and her chirping blue bird seemed way too jarring and out of place. Maybe that was the point.
You will cheer for Gerald and enjoy this book!(less)
A series of artful, full-color vignettes present the intertwined stories of three American teen boys whose fathers are fighting in Iraq. I gobbled thi...moreA series of artful, full-color vignettes present the intertwined stories of three American teen boys whose fathers are fighting in Iraq. I gobbled this down in one sitting, and I can see my high school boy students really enjoying this. My one beef with this book is the ending. It was resolved enough, but I wanted more.(less)
What a hilarious page-turner! I would want to be friends with Felton Reinstein. Seriously. His head may not be screwed on exactly straight, but who ca...moreWhat a hilarious page-turner! I would want to be friends with Felton Reinstein. Seriously. His head may not be screwed on exactly straight, but who can blame him? He discovered his dad's dead body (suicide) in the garage when he was only five. Life with his hippie mother Jerri and his younger brother has consisted of isolation and secrets. He barely remembers his father, and his mother doesn't want to talk about him. Meanwhile, Felton only has two friends: Gus, who is living in Columbia for the summer, and Peter, who is migrating to another crowd--the debate team.
Felton would be left alone if weren't his crazy body suddenly diving off the deep end into hulk-like puberty. He sprouts up, and suddenly he can run faster than just about anyone in school. And track isn't enough. The football coach and players have their sights on Felton. With him on the team, they just might be unstoppable.
STUPID FAST is the story of Felton's summer: (1) dealing with his mother Jerri's increasingly weird and disturbing behavior, (2) meeting the pretty new girl, Aleah, who has moved into Gus's house for the summer, (3) joining a new group of friends on the football team. All the while, Felton is a hee-larios narrator, and the plot rarely slows down. I will highly recommend this book to my students. I discovered a few glaring grammatical errors (including who's instead of whose), but, otherwise, no complaints from me.(less)
WHY I READ IT: I'm a sucker for graphic novels. When I learned that TAKE WHAT YOU CAN CARRY was a graphic novel about the historic Japanese internment,...moreWHY I READ IT: I'm a sucker for graphic novels. When I learned that TAKE WHAT YOU CAN CARRY was a graphic novel about the historic Japanese internment, I immediately purchased it. I thought of how I could pair it with FAREWELL TO MANZANAR or use it as an introduction to such an unfathomable period of American history.
SUMMARY: The novel focuses on two strands, as suggested by the cover: (1) the life of a Japanese family forced to move into the Manzanar camp as depicted in brown illustrations and NO DIALOGUE & (2) the rebellious life of a teenage boy who has moved into a new town and suburban neighbor as depicted in blue illustrations WITH dialogue. Kyle, the rebellious teen, keeps pushing boundaries to impress his new friends, even going so far as to steal from a convenience store. When Kyle must atone for his actions, he realizes he has more in common with the store owner than he initially realized.
COMPLAINTS: The title of this book basically gives away the connection between the two plot strands, and I found the back cover of the book to be more illuminating than some of the illustrations. For instance, I don't recall ever discovering Mr. Himitsu's first name being Ken while reading the book. Also, nothing about the illustrations suggest that Kyle is living in the 1980s, as the back cover claims "Never four decades later, another boy also begins a new life." I thought the action was taking place in the present day, the 2010s. Finally, this book did not have page numbers, which was super annoying.(less)
One my sophomore students this past year told me this book was one of the few he had read and enjoyed. I can see why. My student loves to refer to guy...moreOne my sophomore students this past year told me this book was one of the few he had read and enjoyed. I can see why. My student loves to refer to guys as "bros" (even me!), and Carter, the protagonist, does the same thing.
Carter is a mess. He's a freshman in high school, he wants to be cool, but the only way he can stay organized is to write messages on his arms. The only thing that seems to keep in his school is the next sport he's playing: football, swimming, baseball. He experiences many highs and lows throughout this book, some of which are the result of some very poor choices. Carter is clueless at times, and I both felt sorry for him and laughed at his dumb mistakes.
There's some sexual content in this book, but nothing too graphic. I feel comfortable putting this book on my class library shelf. And I'm interested in reading the sequel to this book...some day.
Overall, this book has lots of heart and humor, and I'd recommend it to most guy readers. One thing I found odd: although this book is set in the present, cell phones are never mentioned.(less)
I like how this book came together in the end, but it was slow-going at first. I enjoyed the narrator's voice enough (and I have started using the ter...moreI like how this book came together in the end, but it was slow-going at first. I enjoyed the narrator's voice enough (and I have started using the term "asshat" as a result), and the interwoven chapters kept things interesting. At times, I found myself more interested in the B-plot as opposed to the main story of Cullen Witter and the mystery surrounding his disappearing brother. Like most good stories, the A- and B-plots eventually came together, and I must say I did not predict the ending until I was almost finished with the book.
The narrator had two tics that bothered me: (1) He constantly referred to people with both their first AND last names, all the way up to the last chapter of the novel; (2) He sometimes slipped into an imaginary state and used third person, and while I liked this the first few times, it got stale after a while.
An introduction to boy scout culture, summer camp, and manhood--whether you're a teen or an adult. The extremely strong language makes me seriously th...moreAn introduction to boy scout culture, summer camp, and manhood--whether you're a teen or an adult. The extremely strong language makes me seriously think if I should make this book available in my class library. A few ambiguous strands are never wrapped up. Blazed through this. A few funny moments.(less)
Reasons I like Carl Deuker books (including this one): 1. The chapters are short, pulling me along as a reader. 2. They aren't just about sports, but th...moreReasons I like Carl Deuker books (including this one): 1. The chapters are short, pulling me along as a reader. 2. They aren't just about sports, but the sports details are exciting to read. 3. I can get my guy students to read them.
Reasons I don't like this particular Carl Deuker book: 1. The payoff isn't big enough. The whole book revolves around a mysterious football player who rarely gets any game time, even though he is phenomenal. Once the secret is finally out as to why he has to stay in the shadows, it's kind of lame. And a little predictable. 2. The main character's struggle with weight doesn't ring very true. He suddenly exercises and eats well...with no problems...and POOF!...his weight melts away. 3. I'm not sure if I can convince any of my students to read it. At least it's a very fast read...(less)
Now I can say that I've finally read this American classic. I actually listened to the Loud Lit / Literal Systems production from iTunes as I followed...moreNow I can say that I've finally read this American classic. I actually listened to the Loud Lit / Literal Systems production from iTunes as I followed along in the book. I felt like I was back in my boyhood--listening to a book on tape. :) Twain is a master storyteller, and he offers so many astute observations about human nature and our American culture.(less)
The action is fast and furious in this "sports" book, even though there is much more action off the baseball field than on it. Scott is a high school...moreThe action is fast and furious in this "sports" book, even though there is much more action off the baseball field than on it. Scott is a high school senior, hoping to make it to the major leagues, and his team is in the city championship game. But he has much more on his mind: his best friend since second grade has recently come out, sending Scott's world into a tailspin.(less)
This book is hard to put down once you start it. I enjoyed the narrator. Green writes about some very deep issues, but balances that with genitalia jo...moreThis book is hard to put down once you start it. I enjoyed the narrator. Green writes about some very deep issues, but balances that with genitalia jokes. This book has something for everyone. Ha. And it's well written. I'm going to use passages of this book as models for my students. I'm thinking about having my creative writing students buy it so we can examine how he constructed such a terrific book. This book receives a 4/5 instead of a 5/5 because I find Margo Roth Spiegelman somewhat annoying.(less)