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YOU

Page history last edited by RichiesPicks 9 years, 10 months ago

9 June 2010 YOU by Charles Benoit, Harper Teen, August 2010, 240p., ISBN: 978-0-06-194704-9

 

"Round and round and round we spin,
To weave a wall to hem us in,
It won't be long, it won't be long
How slow and slow and slow it goes,
To mend the tear that always shows.
It won't be long, it won't be long."

-- Neil Young
 

"It's not that classes are hard.  Most of the time they're ridiculously easy.  The textbooks are dumbed down to the point where your kid sister could probably read them, and the teachers go over and over and over the same stuff anyway, drilling it into your head so that they can ask you one hundred multiple-choice questions to get it all back out of you again.  The teachers complain that the students today are all lazy, ignorant, and stupid.  But the truth is that you're smarter than they are.  You're not even old enough to drive and you already know that none of this matters.  Not the English or the social studies or the math or the science.  If it did, if it really mattered, they'd teach it in a way that made you want to learn it.  But no, they've got to teach it in the most mind-numbing way possible, moving on without any real discussion to get to the next thing that's going to be on the test -- the standardized test.  Then when you take the standardized test they stand there in front of the class and actually tell you, 'These tests are to help rate the school and won't affect your grade.'  And then they're shocked by the results."And they say that the students are stupid?"

 

How do you react to triumphs and setbacks in your life?  What do you do when incited or intimidated?

 

Tenth grader Kyle Chase is an incredibly perceptive and utterly cynical underachiever who finds himself very clear about so many things, and yet cannot begin to find his way out of the ditch into which, over years, he has steadily dug himself spadeful by spadeful.  He seems to just keep digging...and digging...and digging some more.  Then, just as things are really looking bleak for this intelligent and sullen young man who is perpetually garbed in baggy pants and black hoodie, he encounters a new student at school named Zachary McDade.  The devil incarnate, Zack has a knack for reaching the scene just in time as you are hanging by your fingernails from the proverbial cliff and for then proceeding to merrily stomp on your fingers.

 

"You're surprised at all the blood.

"He looks over at you, eyes wide, mouth dropping open, his face as white as his shirt.

"He's surprised, too."

 

The darkness of this tale about what slowly and steadily befalls Kyle Chase is greatly magnified by it's being told in the second person.  YOU often has a sense of detachment that makes me think back to the days of watching Rod Serling all dapper in outfit, cigarette in hand, calmly and cordially explaining the horror that you've been witnessing.  Serling freaked me out when I watched him as a little kid, and this book freaked me out in a pretty similar manner.

 

We cannot control what others do or say.  We can only control our reactions to what others do or say.  

 

There are going to be a lot of teens who will eat this one up.  It is not going to be perceived as your typical reading experience. Just read the first page aloud and there'll likely be some serious wrestling over who gets to take it home first.   

 

Richie Partington, MLIS
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FTC NOTICE: Richie receives free books from lots of publishers who hope he will Pick their books.  You can figure that any review was written after reading and dog-earring a free copy received.  Richie retains these review copies for his rereading pleasure and for use in his booktalks at schools and libraries.

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