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A Certain October

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  506 ratings  ·  91 reviews
Three-time Coretta Scott King Award–winner Angela Johnson writes a wrenching, honest book about surviving the unimaginable and finding a way to go on.

Scotty compares herself to tofu: no flavor unless you add something. And it’s true that Scotty’s friends, Misha and Falcone, and her brother, Keone, make life delicious. But when a terrible accident occurs, Scotty feels respo
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published August 28th 2012 by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
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Average rating 3.53  · 
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 ·  506 ratings  ·  91 reviews

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Mar 03, 2013 rated it liked it
First Part Last was also a slim volume, but it packed so much more of a punch than A Certain October. As a main character, Scotty doesn't make much of an impression, compared to her gorgeous and confident best friends. Misha always gets attention but is determined to stay true to herself even when chosen for the Homecoming Court, tattoos and dreads and all. Falcone is out to his father and a sympathetic sounding board. Scotty is primarily defined by her misery and grief in the face of tragedy. A ...more
Teresa Bunner
Feb 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
My book has the title A Certain October. Goodreads has it listed under this title. Either way, it's a beautifully written very poignant book about life. Thank you Angela for offering us teen characters who are silly, strong, loving and kind. And thank you for making the teen boys gentlemen. Our teens need to see more characters like these. ...more
Amy Layton
When a train accident occurs involving Scotty, her younger autistic brother, and a new friend, she's the only one left unscathed.  There's funerals to attend, hospital rooms to visit, and the knowledge that it was ultimately her decision to ride the train that day was all hers.  For Scotty, a high schooler, all of this is almost too much to bear.  She mourns, she hopes, she hurts, and it seems like nothing will ever be the same again. And she's right in that it won't be.  

Angela Johnson does a f
Jan 01, 2013 rated it liked it
While I found A Certain October entertaining enough as I read it, I don't think it is a memorable book.

Scotty stays busy with her friends and family and taking care of Keone, her autistic little brother. A terrible accident kills a new friend of Scotty's and puts her brother in a coma. Scotty blames herself.

That's pretty much it. We get to know Scotty and her friends, then we experience the terrible accident and go through Scotty's turmoil afterwards.

The book is very short and quickly read, howe
Ms. Ramsborg
Sep 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Book Title: A Certain October
Lexile: 870

In a nutshell: Scotty gets into an accident that puts her little brother in a coma. She’s trying to deal with getting back to normal teenager life and her brother’s injuries with him being in the hospital.

I liked this book because the emotions felt so real. For example, when Scotty visited her brother Keone in the hospital, it was so sad. I could also understand how Scotty felt around Jason because she really likes him and he makes her a little nervous.

Dec 07, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Had A Certain October been written in a more linear fashion, I would have easily given it four stars. The author takes too long to get to the heart of the story, namely a tragedy that shakes Scotty to her very core. Although this book is very short, the character of Scotty is exceedingly well developed. Her anguish, then jubilation, comes through very clearly and the small snapshot into her life definitely had me interested. The author uses the flashback method, as well as the "it was just a dre ...more
Aug 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: yareads
What I enjoy about Angela Johnson's books withstanding (integrated community, eloquence and art to her narrative style, ambiguous "gray space" themes and topics), A Certain October fell short for me as a novel. For one, the central plot isn't revealed until around page 40, and even then I'm not sure what has happened or what the protagonist -Scotty- is planning to do about it. Scotty's autistic younger brother is important to the book, but for some reason reads kind of like an afterthought. Fina ...more
Jul 31, 2013 rated it liked it
Confession: I didn't finish this. It's not a bad book--I just got bored. Angela Johnson is fabulous and amazing, but I just feel like I've read this book a million times before and there wasn't enough originality to make me want to read it again: Awesome girl with fabulous, hilarious pseudo-misfit friends and an autistic younger brother gets caught in the middle of a freak accident that completely rips her world apart and makes her feel like every bad thing is her fault. It's a coming-of-age rit ...more
Beth Dailey Kenneth
Oct 10, 2012 rated it liked it
I found it hard to connect with the main character. I liked her but I wasn't drawn in to her story. I liked how she truly grieved with a support system of friends and family but hated that the book magically ended in a limo after prom--the perfect night with the perfect couples.

Contains: African-Americans, autism, gay couple
Nov 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
While initially confusing because of non-linear format, this short but powerful book was very readable. Johnson packs a lot into a very short book about love, loss, coming of age teen experience. Scotty as first person narriator was so honest about everything. Good to pass on to a teen with an autistic sibling, loss of a sibling.
Feb 23, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya, tayshas-2013
This book didn't strike me as typical Angela Johnson fare. It was told in a very straightforward manner at a very slow pace. The climax of the book, and the events leading up to it, were not very....well....climactic. I felt like there was too much history behind all of these characters for it to be such a short book. I left it feeling very unsatisfied. ...more
Nov 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, fiction
An heartfelt YA book about life after grief. Fine writing and engaging narrative voice with a realistically hurting and confused main character. An especially nice portrayal of genuine teen friendship.
Jan 11, 2011 marked it as to-read
New Angela Johnson!
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Contemporary Fiction Lovers, YA, Adults, Teachers
Recommended to QueenAmidala28 by: Library
So I finished this book about two weeks ago and I was so FLOORED by it that I couldn't even write about it. First of all, note that this was a "traffic pick" meaning I randomly selected it from my library's free audio books so that I could endure the hour traffic home. Therefore, I was not expecting the very emotional, solid writing that I encountered.

Very rarely do I encounter novels about African-American families with children on the Autistic Spectrum. I won't say WHO it is but it is very im
Alex Black
Jul 22, 2020 rated it liked it
I don't have much to say about this one. It's under 200 pages, but took me two months to read because I couldn't get into it. As such, I don't think any review coming from me is super reliable since I didn't experience it the way I'd prefer.

I kept waiting for something about this to grab me and it never did. I don't mind short books. Honestly, I kind of prefer them to longer books because I'd rather a story be told as succinctly as possible. But it felt like Johnson was cramming a 300 page story
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Important topics with a funny and light tone; a journey of grief and recovery
Oct 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks

loved the voice selected for the main character, drew you right in! so short though! so the ending felt abrupt! I wanted more!
Wendy Morlan
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Just re-read this coming of age story about finding yourself while trying to overcome tragedy.
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was a little confusing at first because the story wasn't in sequential order, but overall it was a good book. ...more
Laura Oliver
Jun 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club, audiobooks
Not bad, but not memorable. 2.5 stars.
 Imani ♥ ☮
One thing you cannot say about Angela Johnson is that her writing is convoluted. Despite the contrast in their writing, in terms of style, this author is a bit like Ernest Hemingway.

I don't necessarily like this type of writing. I guess that's why I struggled when I read Old Man and the Sea and all of Angela Johnson's other novellas (because, let's face it. Most of her books are really short).

But perhaps tolerance to a form of writing different from long, winding, descriptive paragraphs, comes w
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Subject: Special Needs, Death/Grief, Relationships, LGBT
Grade Levels: 9-12

Curriculum Connections:
This novel is a study in character motivations and the effects of character choices on the plot of the novel. Students can create in depth studies of Scotty and the choices she makes when she is faced with the tragedy that placed her brother in a coma and resulted in the death of a friend.

Brief Summary:
Scotty is a teenage girl making her way through high school with her tw
Rocio Martin
May 03, 2015 added it
Shelves: project-1
Johnson, A. (2012) A certain october. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Review (Posted by Kirkus Review – Scotty's world is turned upside down when an accident leaves her brother severely injured, an acquaintance dead and Scotty feeling responsible. In the fall of Scotty's junior year of high school, it appears all she has to worry about is reading Anna Karenina and the Homecoming dance. Scotty, who has been a vegetarian since last year's visit to a dairy farm, describes her real
Jez Layman
Johnson does it again! Her exact prose provides a wide variety of problems (and solutions) in a very short amount of pages. This doesn't quite live up to The First Part Last because even though there is a tragic event in this one as well, there's not as much of an emotional punch. Additionally, having recently read See You at Harry's, which tackles a very similar situation (a younger brother being involved in an accident), this book fell a little flat for me compared to the far more emotional Kn ...more
Kristle Steele
Johnson, A. (2012) A Certain October. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster BFYR.

Original Review:
Sometimes, what makes us unique is not our hair color, our clothes or our family structure, but our unique perspective and method of coping in the face of loss. Just like love is unique, so is the hole we must find a way to fill up. Scotty feels like it is all her fault, the train wreck, the presence of her nemesis-cum-potentially-more friend, the inability to handle the real world and her brother’s coma.
Jul 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: teen
Johnson continues to write powerful books in a short format. Here we meet Scotty, a teenage girl who thinks of herself as rather bland, like tofu. The people around her seem more vibrant and complex like her little brother who has autism and enjoys trains, being naked, and eating cookies. Her best friends too seem to be more interesting to Scotty. Then in October everything changes because of a train accident. Scotty’s little brother is injured severely and another boy is killed. Scotty feels re ...more
Aug 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: preteens, young adults
Recommended to Marsha by: daughter
Ever had a book you couldn't put down? This was one of them. I'm a huge fan of Angela Johnson's books and wish they were available to me during my preteen-young adolescent years. But a good book is good for any age.
There are many things I like about "A Certain October" particularly the backdrop. It is not often I read a book with familiar places—East Cleveland, Coventry, Fairmount, the Metroparks, the "Rapid" transit system... are all places from my own upbringing. And October is also my favori
McKenna Kelly
Mar 15, 2016 rated it liked it
“A Certain October” by Angela Johnson is about a teenage girl named Scotty. On the train ride home after taking her autistic brother, Keone, to the doctor the train crashes. Someone Scotty was just starting to know died in the crash along with other people. Scotty blames herself for this because he wouldn’t have been on the train when it crashed if it weren’t for her. Keone ends up being in a coma. Scotty accepts the fact that it happened and it wasn’t her fault, and Keone wak
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
This tightly written and subtle novel explores grief and loss. It's a quieter story that follows Scotty as she deals with losing a guy who was once her friend due to a small choice she believes she forced him into. Likewise, Scotty deals with her autistic brother's long-term hospital stay as a result of the same accident.

It's a sad story, but the way Scotty deals with death is through appreciating the little things going on in her life. She takes steps forward, but once in a while is knocked ba
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