Sunday, June 10, 2012

“…the harsh conformity of high-school cliques and one teen’s struggle to find acceptance…."

Tell us the title:
Who penned this work?:
Laurie Halse Anderson

How did this piece find it's way to your nightstand?:
I first read it in high school, and when I found it on Laura’s bookshelf, I was drawn to read it again.

Number of pages:
198, unless you count the Q&A with the author at the end which would make it 202 :) 

Time passed from start to finish?:
Less than a day…what can I say, it sucks you in.

Describe the cover:
Two soulful, somewhat detached, sorrow-filled eyes stare out from behind a sparsely leaved tree branch

In what section of the bookstore would a reader find this?:
Young Adult, Coming of Age, Fiction

Summary of the basic plot:
From the back: "Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t know hate her from a distance.  The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head."

Background information on the story/author:
Laurie Halse Anderson is the author of the award-winning Fever 1793 and Catalyst, as well as five picture books.  She lives outside of Philadelphia, PA, and has two teenage daughters. Visit her website at:  

What did you think of it? (your general response, what you liked or didn't like, what you learned, anything else you want to share about it):
I loved it in the way that I love anything that pushes me to the edge of an emotional precipice and forces me to think and feel beyond myself and connect to a larger picture.  This book takes you to the brink and leaves you clinging (along with Melinda) to whatever flimsy reality your fingers can grasp in order to maintain a sense of sanity and self – even if that means shutting everyone else out.  Anderson has a knack for causing her reader to delve deeply into the world of her characters, to feel what they feel and think their thoughts.  I love the way Halse uses art within her novel as a way to provide a voice to the main character, giving her a way to speak without saying a word.  Also, it reminded me that while I’ve had some “bad apples” throughout my life as far as teachers go, I’ve also had those few, rare instructors who teach beyond the page and really connect with their students.

Which page was your favorite? Share why:
There are lots of pages that I could put here: the one where David stands up to Mr. Neck, or the one where Mr. Freeman encourages Melinda breathe life into her art, or the one where Melinda asks her dad to buy her some seeds, but some of my absolute favorite are at the end where Melinda is finally able to fully speak her story.

Share a quote that was worth reading twice. Explain why:

“Mr. Freeman: ‘You are getting better at this, but it’s not good enough.  This looks like a tree, but it is an average, ordinary, everyday, boring tree.  Breathe life into it. Make it bend—trees are flexible, so they don’t snap.  Scar it, give it a twisted branch—perfect trees don’t exist.  Nothing is perfect.  Flaws are interesting.  Be the tree.”
I think this is pretty self-explanatory.

Choose your rating:
- Changed. My. Life.
- I laughed, I cried, I want you to read it 

- A definite page-turner
 - Good to check out but don't spend the cash.
 - Why did I waste my weekend on this?
 - A disgrace to paper everywhere

Flip to page 2, 22, or 202. Share the 7th sentence on the page:
Page 22 – “Just so I don’t feel and look so stupid.”