AUTHOR: Laurie Halse Anderson
LENGTH: 272 pages
SUMMARY: High school senior Tyler Miller used to be the kind of guy who faded into the background. But since he got busted for doing graffiti on the school, and spent the summer doing outdoor work to pay for it, he stands out like you wouldn?t believe. His new physique attracts the attention of queen bee Bethany Milbury, who just so happens to be his father?s boss?s daughter, the sister of his biggest enemy? and Tyler?s secret crush. And that sets off a string of events and changes that have Tyler questioning his place in school, in his family, and in the world. (amazon.com)
BRIDGE: I think this book could be used effectively with classic titles like A Separate Peace or Catcher in the Rye. Both of these classic titles deal with teens who are processing traumatic events and having difficulty coping. Anderson does an excellent job of capturing the mentality of a boy who has been emotionally and verbally beaten down by the very people who are supposed to support him. It is an interesting journey into the mind of a child whose vision narrows to the unthinkable option of suicide and how he copes with that temptation. Using this book in tandem with the classics mentioned above will give readers multiple insights into the mind of troubled teens and how even the tiniest statements and actions can have devastating consequences.
Modernizing the setting of Tyler’s mental and social struggles will help readers connect with him and give them a platform from which to appreciate the occurrences in Knowles’s and Salinger’s novels. In addition, the novel provides a discussion point for one’s mindset as a teen dealing with traumatic and emotional fallout and comparing that to Knowles’s look back on the events as an adult.
READERS: This book would appeal to any students dealing with the social inequality of high school. And, as a bit of a change from her previous novels, it has a male protagonist and appeals to male readers in a way her other titles might not. Students who have experienced suicide issues, either personally or through a friend/acquaintance could gain perspective from this novel but be warned to consider this recommendation on an individual basis. Know your readers and be cautious when recommending this book. Readers who enjoy stories of justice meted out on the deserving offenders will enjoy the plot and Anderson’s deft handling of Tyler’s many endured and perpetrated injustices.
OTHER TITLES: Readers who enjoyed this book might also enjoy Big Mouth, Ugly Girl by Joyce Carol Oates, What Happened to Lani Garver? by Carol Plum-Ucci, or Hate List by Jennifer Brown