One book this week! Oh my goodness--school is coming up SO FAST! There are not enough hours in the day. I'm gonna call a hiatus on reading and reviewing for a little while, but here's a great one I read this week!
Pinned by Sharon G. Flake
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I picked this one up after reading a review and praise for the cover at Bookshelves of Doom. For serious, though, the cover: not one but TWO characters depicted with FACES and everything, both African-American teenagers, one a girl, one in a wheelchair. For that reason alone, I plunked down the ol' Visa. (It's called voting with your dollars, folks: if you have the money to buy books, you gotta buy the books you ask for when the publishers put them out. A non-white-washed, non-hidden-disability, non-chopped-off-head-girl cover? Yes. More please!)
But when Pinned finally made its way to the top of my TBR, I was happy to see that the story inside was just as great. Autumn and Adonis are not characters I've really seen before--in books. I've seen Autumn in my classroom, FOR SURE--I thought of two of my former students in particular reading this, and it really made me miss them and hope they're doing ok. Autumn is a stellar baker, a hard-working and gifted wrestler, a student who really struggles with reading and math (but has a ton of integrity in the classroom), and a gregarious, chatty girl. Her best friend Peaches--whose high grades are a reflection of her mother's pressure, who finds a way to shine at any price, who just wants to live in Paris and have a glamorous life, who knows how to put her best foot forward and rock a speech or presentation to state officials--is another character who felt more like a person than a story. Even Jaxxon, a relatively minor character who is in some classes with Autumn, clearly had his own thing going on, and his brief confrontation with a teacher put me right back in the moments when my students shouted at me: they always had a reason, and it's clear he does too. I adored these kids. In fact, all the supporting characters in the book clearly had other things happening in their lives that the POV characters--and therefore, readers--aren't privy to. The one character I had trouble connecting with was Adonis--and I think that was intentional. Adonis isn't interested in connecting; he is so disciplined that other people's failures confuse him, and he is still making sense of a traumatic incident that rattled his ironclad self-image. So while I didn't connect to him, I was fascinated by him, and by this story about a pair of students who seemed unlikely to ever find themselves on the same page. I can't wait to share this with students when the school year starts.
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