I often hear teachers and librarians say much is written for reluctant boy readers what about reluctant girl readers. James patterson writes much for reluctant boys and now he has taken on the girls in liaison with Lisa Papadementriou who enables him to get the female teenage voice right.
Margaret “cuckoo” Clarke is at high school but has a hard row to hoe in life stakes. Her mother is flaky which is ok if you’re a piecrust but not so good if you are responsible for another human being. Her mother had bad taste in men and often left Cuckoo alone at home without support for days on end.
When she disappeared for more than two weeks Cuckoo broke down and was taken to what she calls “crazytown”. She is in a mental institution and presents a very sympathetic picture of what it was like in there.
When she comes out she goes back to school and mixes with kids that she nicknames the “freakshow”. The kids are all brilliant and innovative and Cuckoo is not an unhappy girl in fact she is amazingly upbeat. She comments when a rich boy takes her out and asks why she mixes with her freaky friends. She replies “everybodys’ weird once you get to know them”.
This is what I like about the novel. It is crazy yet perceptive and at times enormously funny.
Every other page of this novel carries illustrations that picture the characters and what is going on. They are accompanied with comments that will make you laugh and cry.
Easy to read, with a portrait of American High school life that takes the water. Reluctant girls will love this even boys if they are brave enough. I was.
The most enjoyable and satisfying novel for High school students i have read this year. Why? because the four major characters in it are just superb.
Miles Halter goes to the same High School in steamy Alabama as his father went to and stays as a boarder. Miles is looking for the Big Perhaps and he meets it alright in the shape of three friends at the school that are to change his life for ever.
He rooms with Chip alias the Colonel, a poor boy, with a deep resentment of the rich, due to his upbringing in a trailer park. He is on a scholarship to the school, is witty and a risk taker. Just what Miles needs. He nicknames Miles Pudge because he is tall and thin and Pudge he becomes.
He is introduced to a brilliant girl named Alaska and is instantly attracted to her and hungers after her for the rest of the book. She in turn flirts with him and other boys but when it comes down to it she holds them all at bay by saying she is true to her boyfriend Jake who is hung like a horse and is an attentive lover. You innocents cannot compete with that.
The fourth character is Takumi, a Japanese boarder who is a true friend and for all the others holds a key position in their friendship.
The book is in two parts and is structured in the days counting down to the beginning of a relationship. Miles or Pudge narrates the story as we count down from136 days Before the event. When it happens everything is blown out of the water but you will have to read it to find out what.
Part 2 is 136 days After the event and wow it is brilliant. As I read it I said why can’t I write like this? and you will too.
The novel is underpinned by a deep philosophical argument about the meaning of life and growing up. Highly recommended.
Sometimes it is good to pick up a teenage novel that sounds like it is frivilous and it turns out to be pretty good. This is such a novel.
Kimberlee is dead. She was the hottest chick in school but she wasn’t miss nice to everyone. She was immensely wealthy but a kleptomaniac. She stole from everyone. Teachers, students, shops everyone. No remorse.
For whatever reason and at the behest of whatever Cosmic power you believe in Kimberlee comes back as a ghost to correct the wrong she has done. ie return all the stolen property. Hundreds of boxes of the stiff. She never needed it or used it but stored it in a cave.
Jeff is the new boy at a privileged school. The school that Kimberlee went to. On his first day he sees her lying as a ghost on the locker room floor. Nobody else can see her except him. Kimberlee gets him to help her return the stolen goods with the belief that returning the booty will end her days as a ghost. Will this happen or is there more to it than that?
Meanwhile Jeff starts up a relationship with Sera, a once bad girl, now apparently miss clean. The trouble is Sera and Kimberlee have history as does her brother Khail who is built like a brick toilet and has secrets of his own.
It all builds up to a very satisfying and revealing ending. You might not think you would like such a novel at first viewing, but you would be wrong. I enjoyed it immensely.
For high school students.