Thursday, September 18, 2008

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period, by Gennifer Choldenko

Choldenko, Gennifer (2007). If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period. New York: Harcourt, 217 pages.

Aaaaah, another quirky, angst-ridden middle school drama, with a twist reminiscent of Days of Our Lives. Told from the perspectives of both Kirsten (her chapters in first person) and Walk (strangely told in the third person) the story begins with a new year at Mountain Private School. Kirsten is your typical rich, white student whose parents are constantly arguing and whose best friend is following a more popular path. Pair those things with her distorted body image and she's in for a hard year. Walk is an African-American student who worked hard and earned a scholarship. He excels in school but becomes angry when stereotypes affect him and his friends. It turns out that Walk and Kirsten are more connected than they ever imagined.

This isn't a bad book. It is fast-paced and has short chapters to hold a reader's attention. Small if not predictable events keep the story moving. All the loose ends are carefully tied up by the end which is a little too Full House for me, but I can see the appeal. I had a hard time deciding who I would recommend this to. The writing seems appropriate for a younger audience, but the themes (especially the plot twist) would take a more mature reader to handle - hence my labeling it young adult. I would say middle-school students would enjoy it the most.

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