Tuesday, June 19, 2012

3 decades, one cover

I like Pete Hautman. I've only read a couple of his books, but I like his writing. I can't muster enthusiasm for What Boys Really Want. No matter what it's about, the cover tells me it's something else. Every time I see the cover, I find it reminiscent--jarringly reminiscent--of Patricia Hermes' What If They Knew. Which I read something like four hundred times as a kid. (What can I say, it was a book and it was in my room; therefore it was a go-to when I was supposed to be sleeping.)

 It's bad enough when recently-published books have similar covers, but it's just weird to me when a book has such a throw-back sort of cover. But then I'm probably one of, like, six people on earth who knows the 1983 book, and of those six, I'm probably the only one aware of current teen books. But I can't bring myself to give this one a chance, because the only vibe I get from the cover is "it's the mid-80s and you're reading under the covers with a flashlight." Which is totally unfair to the book, but they're designed specifically to get our attention--for better or worse, I guess.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Anything But Typical

I read this book because it's on the middle school summer reading list.  I can see why it's recommended, but honestly I had a lot of problems with the voice.

The story is supposed to be told by a 12 year old who struggles with autism.  But the voice seems more like that of an adult... maybe even a therapist.  Jason not only understands the inner workings of his non-neurotypical mind, but how other people see and experience him.  I find this really frustrating.  Even the most advanced 12 year old would have trouble understanding how other people experience the world differently than they do.

The general story is creative and slightly cheesy.  He writes stories that parallel his experience as atypical.  The end is saccharine.

The biggest problem I have is that the kids who read this story are going to expect that children who are "different" understand themselves and how they affect other people.  Most adults struggle with this.  I think it sets kids up for a very difficult situation next time they meet someone who thinks differently than they do.