I don't have the background (in education, sociology, etc.) to read this as critically as I'd like, but even so, I found much worth pondering and actiI don't have the background (in education, sociology, etc.) to read this as critically as I'd like, but even so, I found much worth pondering and acting upon....more
I feel a little ambivalent about this book. The things I like, I really, really like: the mix of Hawaiian and Indian (Gujarati) cultures; the insightI feel a little ambivalent about this book. The things I like, I really, really like: the mix of Hawaiian and Indian (Gujarati) cultures; the insight into hip-hop and how all the external expressions of strength can become inner strength (fake it 'til you become it); Rani's voice and raps; the characters around her, both positive and negative.
But the things I don't like are hard to get past. Rani's abuse and healing feels shallow, and as the author says in her note, "the fact that Rani was able to gain insight as quickly as she did is unusual. If anything in this story is unrealistic, it is that." I'm not someone who loves to read angst for angst's sake, but I wanted Rani's pain and recovery to come from a deeper place: sometimes when she rapped, I felt those things very strongly, but in her other actions, the abuse and healing seemed mere storytelling.
Rani's character in general can come across as uneven: while she's supposed to be a nerdy, ambitious student body president no boys want to date, she's also a super cool rapper with tons of guy friends. I don't disbelieve these prototypical girls can coexist in one woman, but with only a bit of characterization anchoring each facet in the text, Rani came across as Mary Sue-ish at times.
And then there's all the Gujarati and Hawaiian and hip-hop terminology. The glossary in the back is only helpful if it includes all the unknown words. If I flip to the back to define a word and can't find it listed, that seems unprofessional...or lazy. I'd rather no glossary and having to guess the definitions by context than a glossary only capable of answering my questions part of the time.
I did love Rani's world and words, though, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of Sonia Patel's work in future. And since this is an advanced copy, perhaps some of the more nitpicky glossary issues will be resolved by the date of publication....more
If I had been reading this for the love story, I would've been highly satisfied, even given the way it ends. But I wasn't really reading this for theIf I had been reading this for the love story, I would've been highly satisfied, even given the way it ends. But I wasn't really reading this for the love story: I was reading it for Rafe's journey of identity. And that didn't quite...arrive.
Throughout the book, Rafe's writing teacher keeps urging him to stop performing in his writing, to treat the writing as a conversation and an exploration, not a monologue. And that's kind of how I felt about Rafe's story by the end of the book. He has a nice, tidy realization about what seems to be a very complex issue. And while I know that Rafe might truly feel it's a nice, tidy issue, I was hoping for more.
More perspectives, more struggle, more depth. More conversations, more compassion, more common ground. I'm doubtless looking in the wrong place; this is a YA novel, after all. But fiction has such power when it comes to exploring others' points of view, and I was hoping this book would offer an opportunity to see loneliness and defining oneself from an angle I hadn't explored before.
I wanted to recognize my own journey to self and self-confidence in Rafe's, but I couldn't. And that wasn't because he's gay and I'm not; it's because mine still continues today, and Rafe already appears to have his sorted out. And the fact that he seems completely unaware of all the labels he sticks on other people, pre-determined as Good and Bad irrespective of the individual (e.g., only nuns in Boulder could be so accepting of gay people), just left me feeling even more alienated from his experience.
The humility and honesty and uncertainty with which Rafe's love story concludes is much more what I'd hoped to find in his journey of identity....more
The Bad Kid has a great voice and an incredible sense of place, but the plot took 50+ pages to arrive, and I'm not altogether certain that, even if thThe Bad Kid has a great voice and an incredible sense of place, but the plot took 50+ pages to arrive, and I'm not altogether certain that, even if they're interested enough to stick with it that long, its intended audience will know enough about gangsters and the mob to understand what's going on. Kudos to Lariviere for not talking down to her audience, though: I'm interested to see how middle grade readers respond to this....more
I loved this. Quirky, charming, full of humor, mythology, and adventure against the regimented backdrop of Edwardian society. A heroine of decided talI loved this. Quirky, charming, full of humor, mythology, and adventure against the regimented backdrop of Edwardian society. A heroine of decided talents and opinions, a frivolous companion of unexpected depth, ghosts (...or hallucinations...but what does it matter?), a soupçon of romance, and a duke lost amidst the Aegean Islands.
It's the kind of book that defies easy categorization but suits all my reader's sweet spots right down to the ground. I can't wait to see what adventures await Miss Truelove in future books....more