What’s on my nightstand? The Life and Crimes of Bernetta Wallflower, by Lisa Graff.
I confess I had a small problem swallowing the idea of a middle-school girl trying to “earn” $9,000. That amount of cashola just doesn’t seem to fit a seventh-grader. That a seventh grade girl can be a con artist–no problem! Go figure.
I loved this book. This comparison came to mind as I read: Lisa Graff is to a story character what Margaret Peterson Haddix is to a story premise. Does that mean anything to anyone else? How about this: I adore Margaret Peterson Haddix’s story premises; I think she’s brilliant.
Now, I’ve only read two Lisa Graff books (this and her first, The Thing About Georgie) while I’ve read numerous MPH books, but I’m willing to go out on a limb with that comparison.
One of the best parts of the book is that it doesn’t let go until the Very. Last. Sentence. I was actually a little concerned that I might have to hate the book when it wasn’t resolving the way I thought it had to and I was down to a half-dozen pages, two pages, one page…but the author still had a trick up her sleeve. I did not have to hate the book after all. Whew!
What else is on my nightstand? Boy Meets Boy, by David Levithan.
I want to go out for ice cream with David Levithan. No, that’s not it. I want to grill (and by “I want to grill” I mean I want Mike to grill) salmon here on the deck for David Levithan. I want to talk with him (and by “talk with him” I mean have him talk to me). I think I’d laugh off two or three pounds in an hour or two of his company.
I wish I’d read this book with a book club because I’d like to discuss it; there are so many interesting points to it. But underneath it all is, quite simply (and by “simply” I mean impossibly hard to craft) a good story. And the writing is as fresh as a Georgia peach in July.
After finishing it this morning, I surfed around looking at reviews to see if others liked it as much as I did (you know, since I don’t have a book club to talk about it with). I found a kid/teen reviewer who was frustrated by the sophistication of the characters. They’re totally not realistic. But, then, neither is the school or community. I wondered if kids would be okay with that. Today’s teens are way-yonder more sophisticated than I was as a teen, but even so, I wonder how much they can or need to relate to the characters, and how much that affects their enjoyment of the story. It didn’t work for the kid doing the review. I hope some get it. Because of all the discussion potential, I think it should be read in schools. Maybe it is. I loved it.
For a while now, I’ve been bemoaning the mediocrity of much of my reading material. Suddenly I get back-to-back winners. I should probably stop and savor the delight a while, but it’s too late; I’ve already begun a new book.