Monday, September 08, 2008

The Adoration of Jenna Fox

Best thing I've read all summer, but I don't want to spoil it for others, since there are som eunexpected plot twists. Jenna wakes up after being in a coma for a year, following a horrible accident that kills her two best friends. She has trouble with memory, still can't quite move her body the way she could, and her grandmother and parents are acting weird. Her mother doesn't want her to leave the house, and her grandmother doesn't seem to like her. At first I thought this was another amnesia novel, but it quickly becomes clear that this is more in line with Unwind than Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac. Set in the near future, this brings up issues of identity, bioethics, and many issues that would make great class discussions. At first, both the cover and the title didn't seem to fit, but all becomes clear by the end. My son and daughter both read this one and liked it. Definitely buying a copy.

Robert Parker's The Boxer and the Spy was okay. A boy is found dead along the shore, and the presumption is that he jumped off a bridge in a steroid induced rage. Terry finds this implausible, and starts to investigate a number of suspicious activities around town. This gets him into trouble with the principal, the BMOC football player, and makes his training in boxing come in handy. The writing is spare, to the point where any discussions of sex are about as interesting and titillating as discussions of cornflakes. The sex isn't what stopping me from buying this-- the rest of the book just isn't compelling enough to merit justifying it.

Mary Stolz's The Noonday Friends (1965) was a flashback to the days when the poor bought hamburger 35 cents at a time, and had two shirts and a skirt to their name. Franny's father is an out-of-work artist who can't keep a job; her mother works (unheard of!) to help put food on the table. Franny watches her younger brother and tries to improve her family's lives. The New York City setting is also something reminiscent of books that I read in middle school. I think the book holds up well, and I can recommend this to 6th graders who want problem novels.

Golden's Poison Ink looked intriguing, but didn't quite draw me in. There are other books about evil tattooing that are done more cleverly, and this felt like I came in in the middle of a series and didn't know essential background. I'll check. Perhaps I did.

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