This book got off to a very promising start for me. Nayman's initial narrator (Oscar) said something that gave me an instant feeling of connection. Bu...moreThis book got off to a very promising start for me. Nayman's initial narrator (Oscar) said something that gave me an instant feeling of connection. But, after only a few pages with this narrator, and just as things are starting to get interesting, we are abruptly thrust into a new time and place, and given a narrator (Christine) with whom I not only felt no connection, but couldn't even bring myself to be really interested in at all. I was so turned off by this section of the book, that I had a hard time feeling any investment in the the next section, even though I felt at least some connection with this third narrator (Marilyn). Both Christine and Marilyn hint at some dark secret from Oscar's past that they think they know, though both do it in such a jumpy, pseudo-tantalizing fashion that by the time we hear Oscar's voice again I was more relieved that all the games were coming to an end than actually interested in what the secret was.
It's a shame that the story felt so herky-jerky, because I think that if Nayman had kept Oscar's voice as the sole narrator throughout the book her story would have had the emotional impact she was going for. Instead, by throwing in so many extraneous plot points and red herrings (Christine's opium addiction and Marilyn's conflicting feelings about her wartime photography, among others) she's declawed what could have been a powerful story.(less)
My response: What's more important - a few things you don't agree with, or a powerful story about a teenage boy learning to deal the world around him? I know, what a silly question.
I'll be honest, I had a hard time with this book at first. I spent the first part of the book wondering whether Charlie was supposed to have emotional problems or whether the writing was just awkward. When it became clear that Charlie did have emotional problems, I started to wonder why nobody but me seemed to notice. But then comes the big reveal... And Chbosky does it so well that it made the whole rest of the book shift into focus, and I could see why this is such a powerful book for so many teenagers.(less)
If the purpose of a YA memoir is to be a cautionary tale, I suppose this is a good one. Certainly it will make any teen think twice about accepting a...moreIf the purpose of a YA memoir is to be a cautionary tale, I suppose this is a good one. Certainly it will make any teen think twice about accepting a job on a sailboat that's running drugs from St. Croix to New York. But perhaps Gantos's story of life in prison will not prove to be such a disincentive, since he gets a job in the prison hospital and never has to live with the general population. His biggest problem seems to be boredom. So yes, be cautioned, but Gantos's experiences overall are too atypical to really have much chance of changing the course of someone's life.(less)