Friday, December 27, 2013

Bookshelf: John Corey Whaley

Kaitlin handed me a book a few weeks ago and said, I need you to read this. It's YA but I can't teach it in my class because of certain themes but I need to discuss it with someone.

The book is WHERE THINGS COME BACK, but John Corey Whaley. He's won The William C. Morris Debut Award as well as the Printz Award. No big deal. Authors like this, who nail it on their first try, drive me bonkers with jealousy. I can't even read my first novel without cringing at certain parts (don't get me wrong, I still love SUMMER AT NINETEEN, but I wrote it when I was nineteen and still had a lot of practice in my future).

Anywho, Whaley is absolutely deserving of the awards. In my mind, his writing style is flawless. The book starts with two narrators (one in first person and one in third) and later switches to a third narrator. Admittedly, I'm only halfway through so there could be more. It is a quick read, but I haven't had as much reading time lately, what with the holiday smack dab in the middle of my work week.

Here are some of the reasons I'm loving this book so much...

1.) Cullen Whitter keeps a journal of ideas he comes up with for book titles. They usually come at the end of his narratives and they aren't always obvious as to how they fit into the plot but they're pretty awesome.
Example: "Book Title #82: Five A.M. Is for Lovers and Lawn Ornaments."
(That's one of my favorites.)

2.) Cullen's very smart younger brother. I love smart characters who might seem a little socially off. (Reference: Skip Clancy in I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND)

3.) The friendship between Cullen and Lucas. It's simple, it's real.

4.) The elusive Lazarus.

5.) The family dynamic between various characters - it feels gritty and real. Sometimes in life we don't get superawesomeamazingsupportive parents who give us hugs every day and make us feel loved. Sometimes you get hit. And it changes you. Crushes you a little bit at a time until you feel like nothing.

6.) I really just love the writing. The end.

I can understand why Kaitlin isn't allowed to teach this book. It's got some very mature themes. Too mature for 6th grade English. But this would be a great book to teach in high school. I think if Kaitlin was a high school English teacher her kids would never want to graduate because they'd be addicted to the books she teaches and they'd just want to read and discuss every day, forget about the other classes. I might be biased because we're friends but I think she's probably a pretty awesome teacher.

Anywho, that's what I'm reading right now. I'm so glad to have friends who are equally passionate about books and want to share and discuss. If only I had had friends like this when I was in middle school. Maybe then I would have read more than just Sweet Valley Kids/Twins/High/University. Oh well.

Happy Reading!


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