Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Personal Blind Spot: Harmonic Feedback

Today was the first day of summer vacation (starting from noon), and that meant the end of the brief window of summer weather we had yesterday.  Instead I shivered through a field day at one school, and then we unanimously canceled our planned trip to the pool.  P started running a fever but didn't seem comforted when I told him that meant he didn't have to go to school tomorrow.  Ha funny ha was his reaction.  

In honor of school closing, I offer this review of a Cybils YA Novels finalist that is primarily a school story.  As the parent of a junior high school boy, I refuse to believe that all high schools are dens of constant drug abuse and drug sales.  I just can't handle it. Since my ex-sixth grader couldn't figure out where to buy a year book, I'm hoping he never figures out where to buy "stuff."   So YA books featuring high schools that are such dens are a hard sale with me.  Tara Kelly probably doesn't think of her books high school as a "den" in Harmonic Feedback, but the insanely easy access to drugs, calm assumption on most students part that drugs are available and harmless and constant use by several main characters kept me from falling into the book.

The pivot character, Drea, sounded true to me -- she a teen stuck living with her mom and strict grandmother, a grandmother who doesn't believe in these new-fangled ideas like ADHD and Aspergers Syndrome.  She's never lived long in one place, since her mom is constantly following a new idea or a new man to a fresh start.  Friendships have been few both because of the moves and because of her unique perspective on the world, with her bluntness and directness confusing people who interact with her.  But the new neighbor Naomi is also desperate for friendship, and the two girls try to be what the other wants or needs.  Even the super-perfect Justin isn't as important to Drea, so Naomi's problems tend to overshadow the book a bit.  But since a lot of her problems are drug-related, I found myself less sympathetic.

I won't be handing this book to my twelve year old, but mainly because he's not interested in all that high school angst.  He can barely acknowledge junior high pain.  Also, there's a bit of a similarity to a Dead Dog novel that I don't think he'd appreciate, being sadly devoid of all sentimentality.

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