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Paper Covers Rock

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  2,220 ratings  ·  434 reviews
Sixteen-year-old Alex has just begun his junior year at a boys’ boarding school when he fails to save a friend from drowning in a river on campus. Afraid to reveal the whole truth, Alex and Glenn, who was also involved, decide to lie. But the boys weren’t the only ones at the river that day . . . and they soon learn that every decision has a consequence.
A William C. Morr
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published June 14th 2011 by Delacorte Press
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Anna Jeffries In my opinion, no. I read this around that age and hated it. Maybe 9th or 10th, I think. Frankly, I don't think it's a very good book in general - oka…moreIn my opinion, no. I read this around that age and hated it. Maybe 9th or 10th, I think. Frankly, I don't think it's a very good book in general - okay ideas I guess, but it remains one of the few books I never have any interest in reading again. (less)

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Average rating 3.39  · 
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I have to give at least four stars for Hubbard's poetic, literary writing and complex narrative structure (it's more of a set of connected vignettes that move back and forth in time than a straight forward-momentum shot). I also have to give at least four stars to the actual poems in the novel, written by Alex, the narrator, a couple of which gave me the shivers.

As for my overall enjoyment and emotional investment, though, I can't give this more than 2 stars. I'll try to get more into why this d
Jan 07, 2015 added it
Paper Covers Rock is a true work of art.

Of course, I could say the same about countless other books, but Jenny Hubbard's debut stands out. Its artistry is not the conventional sort—gorgeous writing or a brilliantly planned plot, the kind that everyone appreciates, the kind that everyone seems to have agreed to appreciate. Instead, Paper Covers Rock is a quietly beautiful novel, for readers of a certain taste. I understand why a reader would dislike it—the story is very, very literary and languid
Initial reaction: "Paper Covers Rock" has some brilliant pieces to its whole. For one, it's a story that takes place in the 1980s at an all boys school in North Carolina, with a protagonist dealing with the aftermath of a friend's death. Alex is a poet and finds refuge in his writing for dealing with the grief, but then he suspects his teacher might know something surrounding Thomas's (his friend's) death. Particularly since she was on the scene in the aftermath.

I'm kind of at a loss for words b
Jul 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard has a high literary tone. It reminds me of Catcher in the Rye or The Dead Poet's Society based on the characterization and quality of writing, as well as the incorporation of other literary works within the story. While I enjoyed this book, I'm not sure it would appeal to a large number of readers.

The story is paralleled extensively with Herman Melville's Moby Dick. The protagonist, Alex, uses it as a guide to express himself and deal with what has happened to
Jul 21, 2017 rated it did not like it
This was awful. I never thought it would end and it's not even a big book. It was an attempt at a poor recreation of A Separate Peace by John Knowles. Everything was scattered around and poorly written. I do not recommend this at all.
Barclay Sparrow
Aug 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book was required summer reading for my AP Lit class, and I have a developing case of senioritis.

This book was also the first required book that I have ever read in one day.

I loved it. I didn't understand all of the allusions and got a little thrown off by the continuity on occasion, but I had a really difficult time putting it down. It has been so long since I couldn't put a book down that I forgot what it felt like.

As for solid reasons, the best I can give is not only the literal poetry (
May 30, 2011 rated it it was ok
I had a lot of issues with this book, starting with the unbelievable male voice but perhaps mostly with the fact this book is set in the 1980s for no apparent reason. The setting is not necessary then, and there's no context for it.

Alex was boring to me.

The thing is, this is a more literary novel, and there's some stuff with that, and I think this is the kind of book that could get some award-y attention. But for me, it was really one note, and I can't quite see my kids eager to read it. A lit
Morgan Elliott
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
I'm not even sure what to say about this book. How about I start with what I liked?

I love her writing style, to me it seems almost poetic in itself. Having it the form of a journal was brilliant, I thought. Even if it made it a little harder to follow because he would jump around in what he wrote, though there seemed to be some kind of crazy order to that chaos. His fascination with Herman Melville was interesting. He couldn't even get past the first chapter but it seemed to help him create his
Gregory Holz
Jul 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Brilliant and beautifully written. I was so glad that I picked this up. Interesting ending...
Aug 20, 2017 rated it did not like it
Honestly, what is this book even trying to do?
Jun 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Paper Covers Rock is a literary tale which explores the honour code of an all boys’ boarding school. It is a novel that transcends genre and is hard to define – it is part thriller, part coming of age story, part exploration of grief, loss, sanity and love. It is also pays homage to the Great American Novel and yet at times it questions that weighty label. Between so few pages, Jenny Hubbard weaves a story about transgressions with the poetry of life and the nature of truth. It is not an easily ...more
Actual Rating: 4 Alex Stromm Stars.

“Read to your heart's content. Though if you are a reader, the heart is never content.”

A group of students at a boys' boarding school cope with the aftermath of a drowning death. How much do they tell? Who else knows what happened? What did they see? These questions form the wellspring of a stopry filled with tension, guilt, betrayal, as well as an assurance the life goes on after a tragedy. The story is told by Alex, a junior at a boys' boarding school. Alex
May 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 29, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I can't quite bring myself to give this the 3 star "I liked this" rating, because while there were enjoyable moments, I had to double check a few times when I got to the end to see that it actually was the end, ending up feeling more let down than having just finished an enjoyable book. I don't think it would have been so frustrating had the entire book not been written as if it were building to some big moment that never actually came. The actual climax, as it is, was the most underdeveloped pa ...more
It had the feel of "Dead Poets Society" in that it featured a somewhat above average boy in boarding school with a talent for writing. I felt the anguish of Alex as he sorted through his emotions of supporting the friendship honor code versus the school honor code, and in dealing with his crush on his English teacher. There was also references to other literary works, with the main one being Moby Dick. This book makes me want to finally read Moby Dick. I picked up this book because it was in the ...more
Sanah Shabbir
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
This was a big miss for me, I didn't enjoy this at all. While there were some humorous moments, I struggled to finish this. The way the novel was formatted with different subplots within each chapter was confusing and I didn't really care for any of the characters. It was just dry and boring, so not off to a great start this 2019 reading year :/
May 25, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, realistic, age-ya
Boarding school student Alex, referring to himself as Is Male (a reference to Moby-Dick, or, the Whale), writes in a secret journal after the death of his friend Thomas. Alex blames himself for Thomas's death, because they had all been drinking, but there are other parts of the situation that leave Alex unsettled. Clay took the blame for it all and left school, while Glenn wants to make sure that Miss Dovecott, the English teacher Alex has a crush on, who was there that fateful day, didn't see s ...more
Aurora Dimitre
I don't know why I didn't expect to like this one. I honestly don't. Maybe it's because it's really thin, maybe it's because the back read like a mix between your typical YA issue book and A Separate Peace (though I made the shelf 'hey it's the chocolate war' because, tbh, The Chocolate War's way better than A Separate Peace, mostly because I can always spell 'chocolate' and not always 'separate' (and that's a joke, I've just only read Separate Peace once, Chocolate War so many times and both ...more
Deborah Takahashi
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen-fiction
Alex Stromm is a junior at Birch School, a boarding school for boys. What was supposed to be another year of endless classes and trying to fit in, Thomas, Alex's best friend, drowns in the lake near school. Unfortunately, what was supposed to be an accident, escalates into an interrogation for Alex and his friend, Glenn. In fact, when Glenn, Clay, and Alex were asked what had happened, they did something they never though they would do: they lied. Although Alex is struggling with the death of hi ...more
Dec 04, 2012 added it
Hubbard, J. (2011). Paper covers rock. New York: Random House/Delacorte. 185 pp. ISBN: 978-0-385-74055-5. (Hardcover); $17.99.*

Alex is a boarding school student with an ear for language in a school for the elite. Wracked by guilt for his failure to save a drowning classmate, Alex vents some of his emotion through his poetry. Miss Dovecott, his English teacher and object of his fantasies, is a wise and perceptive young educator. She happened to be one of the first adults on the scene the night dr
Oct 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Is Male, Alex, starts writing in the journal his father gave him at the beginning of the school year. He's started after one of his best friends dies. Is Male is not the most direct narrator however, and tells you many stories around his friend's death. Slowly in brief passages the truth of what happened at the rock comes out. Is Male didn't know the whole story, he still isn't sure what is true. His journal helps him through his journey though, helps him be okay.

So, I have never read Moby Dick.
Mar 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: high-school
This is an extremely intelligent, literary book following a 1980s teen's experience with a tragic alcohol related death, for which he believes himself to be responsible. He keeps a journal under a pseudonym to try to work this out in his mind. It's an inward journey that is poignant and recognizably one about truth in its many forms.

The teen characters are all very believable. I at first had an issue with the young, female teacher (at an all boys boarding school), until I realized she is just b
Why I picked it up: the author is from my area and the book is set in North Carolina.

The book is in the format of Alex’s journal. Alex is a junior at an all-boys boarding school. In late September, his friend Thomas died by jumping off a rock into a river close to campus. It was supposed to be an initiation, and Alex was one of the boys present at Thomas’s death. And the truth about that day is difficult for him to ignore, even as his classmate pressures him into keeping their cover.

Well, I’m no
May 14, 2013 rated it liked it
Paper Covers Rock is a well-written and eminently readable novel. Ms. Hubbard weaves shadings of A Separate Peace and The Chocolate Wars within the pages, and like those novels, this was a difficult "coming of age" story for me to read. The characters, especially Alex and Glenn, are well-drawn and though similar to those in the other novels, they, especially Alex, are unique. In artistic expression and creativity, Alex stands apart from these other characters, a student who really "ponders" and ...more
Sep 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
i think this author has writing chops, but this book didn't work for me as a YA story for (presumably) a largely male audience. the voice of the main character, as many reviewers have already noted, did not ring true for me. he was a wooden boy who skewed much older than 16 & lacked a beating heart. perhaps the author did this on purpose to show a teen boy shutting down in the face of a tragedy, but it needed something more to make me a believer. the author was incredibly creative with inserting ...more
Jennifer Lavoie
I wanted to check out this book and then I got it at the recommendation of the YA librarian at my public library. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

I listed it under my LGBT tag because there are some issues regarding homosexuality and some of the characters. I also listed it under based on classics because Moby Dick and many poets come up and are mentioned and discussed in the book. There are some sections where the narrator calls himself Is Male like Moby Dick's "Call me Ishmael."

As t
Jun 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
If I could give this 4.5 stars, I would. It was a little weird at the end, but the vast majority of this powerful book was engaging and fascinating. A lot of people have compared it to A Separate Peace, but I think this is much better. The main character, Alex, is in love with his English teacher, Miss Dovecott, and wants to impress her with his poetry; his writing is sprinkled liberally throughout the book, and since Miss Dovecott loves Moby Dick, he has titled each chapter of this journal-as-b ...more
I keep on waffling between deciding whether this should be 4 or 5 stars. It's one hell of a novel, incredibly written and dripping with subtext and deep symbolism.

The one issue, and what I think means I'll have to go with 4 stars instead of 5, is that I'm finding it hard to buy that this is supposed to be the voice of a 16 year-old boy. If it were from the perspective of someone looking back upon his time at boarding school, I'd have no issues with it. As it stands, while Hubbard nails the mind
Oct 04, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Deborah, Telesa
Shelves: ya, realistic-fiction
A realistic fiction novel set at a boys' boarding school in the 1980s, described from the perspective of 16-year-old Alex, whose year starts off with the drowning of his good friend Thomas. Vodka and camaraderie among Clay, Alex, Glenn, and Thomas turn into a daring contest, with Thomas diving off the huge and dangerously positioned rock and entering the river headfirst. Alex's journal, hidden in the school library, tells the story in bits and pieces, as he permits himself to remember the events ...more
Alana Massa
Mar 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Alex has just started his junior year at an all boys boarding school when the accident happened. His friend Thomas has drowned. Is it Alex's fault? If the staff finds out the truth of what really happened that day will he and some of his fellow classmates be expelled from school? When the autopsy report comes back they found alcohol in Thomas' blood. Who else was drinking? One boy took the fall for the rest and was expelled. But who else was drinking? What really happened that day? Did Miss Dove ...more
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Mock Printz 2021: Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard 3 44 Nov 04, 2011 09:13AM  

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A former high-school and college English teacher for 17 happy years, Jenny now practices what she preached: the discipline of rewriting, which, in her humble opinion, is the key to a writer’s success.

Jenny is represented by Jonathan Lyons of Curtis Brown, LTD, New York City.

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