Sunday, August 16, 2009

Lurlene McDaniel's Prey

I was a little leery of this one, since Boy Toy (dealing with the same subject of sexual abuse of a teenage boy) was so off putting, but McDaniel treats this subject with understanding and a sense of moral ambiguity that rings true. Ryan is a high school freshman with an absent father and deceased mother. Lori is a 33-year-old, knock-dead attractive teacher. The two connect, and lapse into an affair that they both want. When Honey, Ryan's friend, is concerned about his lack of interest in high school matters, she discovers the truth and turns the teacher in. The very good point is made that if a female student were in a similar position with a male adult, no one would second guess that this was a Bad Thing, but the fact that the abused child is a boy leads to speculation that this is something he wanted. Which is was. So is it bad? McDaniel makes all these points clearly, never getting too graphic. I don't think this is a middle school title, but high schools certainly will be interested.

The low level fiction reading is depressing. The stand outs are the 20-year-old Martin Matthew titles by Paula Danziger, which are quite amusing, and a similar series by Sarah Weeks about a young boy named Phineas that also will be popular with boys who like funny stories. In general, though, they are Not Good Literature, and not even particularly fun to read, such as Suzanne Williams' Princess Power Books. These are for much younger readers, so I am not quite sure what students would think of them. I didn't care for them, but in the same way that I don't care much for 4th graders-- they are lovely when other people are dealing with them. I just don't want to. The covers look like bad Nickelodeon cartoons.

Guilty pleasure of the week: John F. Carson's 1967 The Mystery of the Tarnished Trophy. My father's elementary school librarian was deaccessioning books in 1975, and this was a title I was allowed to have because I helped her. It is probably the only sports book I read until about 1999, but I have kept it all these years. I was thinking about putting it in the library collection, but it really is such a wonderful story that I couldn't bring myself to. Walter's father was listed as missing in action in WWII, but his mother has never given up hope that he will return. She moves them to the father's hometown, hoping to find out what happened to him. Turns out he was accused of a theft and left in some disgrace, so Walter is determined to solve the mystery. Beautifully written and evocative of a lost era, it still makes me happy.


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