Monday, August 5, 2013

Monday Love: Taking a Break Edition

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!

 PinnedPinned 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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  1. I think you raise a great point about even side characters having something "going on". That's a great way to round out otherwise potentially flat characters by hinting at whatever it is they're dealing with. Definitely food for thought when thinking about crafting my own secondary characters. Thanks for the review and rec, Jess! :-)

    P.S. Hope the planning is coming along well!

  2. Ooh, I've never heard of this one, but I think I'm going to have to check it out! Especially because of that cover--a black girl with a head, yay! And the characters sound intriguing, too--thanks for the rec :)


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