Wednesday, January 02, 2008

One Good Punch-- Wallace

This is a bit of a departure from the younger sports series that Wallace has (and I can't think of the titles, of course), but it is very, very good.

Michael Kerrigan, 18, makes some good choices. He is committed to running track, he very competently and responsibly writes obituaries for the local paper, and he is thinking about college. He also makes some very bad choices, including buying four marijuana joints from a friend, who stashes them in his locker. Just before a police dog sweep.

The title comes from a story a friend's father tells him. One good punch was all it took for this man's boxing career to be over. Will one good punch (being expelled for the marijuana) take down Michael?

We don't know. Not to ruin the ending, but Wallace leaves us hanging. I see why ( we are supposed to get, I think, that Michael will not let the punch get him down), but it wasn't very satisfying.

The slim size of this does concern me. This is not necessarily for 6th graders. There is some discussion of making out with a girl friend and also the rather unnecessary supposition that she may be a lesbian. Still, there are a lot of bad choices that students can make, and books that show these choices, as well as the consequences, are good for them to read. Would I let my 6th grade son read this? Yes. Do I have any books I really don't want him to read? No. Am I leaning more toward problem novels with challenging concepts than I have in the past? Yes. The world we live in is a more difficult place than it was when I was in middle school, and some students need to see how decisions lead to consequences without actually having to live through them.

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