Anne's Reviews > In Zanesville

In Zanesville by Jo Ann Beard
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Feb 27, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: ya-lit
Read in February, 2012

Four Stars for "In Zanesville". I thought the novel had some really compelling and tense moments. Beard is great at creating tension in a scene. But because although the novel touched on some interesting and appropriate issues for adolescents, it kind of jumps all over and sometimes, maybe if it tried to do less could focus more on some plot and character development. I really enjoyed Beard's characters, i only wish she gave us more of them. It wasn't like some of the other young adult novels I have read in the past. The story was a bit more layered and it was a bit dreamy and ephemeral due to the narrator's voice. I thought it was an enjoyable read, but it wasn't as compelling as the other nonfiction book I read by Beard.

The story starts off introducing two high school aged girls(14) in rural western Illinois describing a summer of babysitting the four very terrible Kozak kids. The girls are vastly under qualified and experienced to be watching the kids or dealing with the screwed up parents. The middle school aged boy named Derek ends up burning down half the house while the girls are babysitting and the narrator's mother has to come to the rescue. As a result the boy gets physically burned at the stove burner by his father and the girls are traumatized. This sets the mood for the rest of the novel. The rest of the story focuses on the close relationship between the nameless narrator and her best friend Felicia. They are inseperable until a cheerleaders birthday party, when they have a major falling out and things get rocky for the narrator. In the end, the girls mend their friendship and move on, both a little more jaded.

This novel is about adolescents but the characters are complicated and sometimes subject matter is quite sophisticated. I think an older audience would enjoy and identify with it more than junior high. The themes focus on family dynamics, sexuality, fitting in, peer pressure, friendships, alcoholism.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Heather (new)

Heather I wonder about writing style...do you feel like the style would be appealing or distracting for teens?


Anne Heather wrote: "I wonder about writing style...do you feel like the style would be appealing or distracting for teens?"
I think it is more challenging than some of the other super plot driven texts I am reading. Seems a little stream of consciousness almost.


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