Friday, October 22, 2010

Dark doubles

Too Late by Clem Martini
Train Wreck by Malin Lindroth             (YA)           

There are some pretty great things about being a library student. Publishers will actually send books to various student groups because they know that the students publish newsletters with book reviews in them - and the people who will read the reviews are actually going to be a position to buy tons of books in a few years. In fact, I got a free copy of this book so that I could write a review for the AQBLA student chapter's newsletter. However, I just couldn't get it out of my mind, even after I wrote the review.
             The book is two completely separate short stories for teens, put in one book that can be flipped so that the other one can be read. These "flip" books are part of a series in which two stories on similar themes are put together. The stories are quite short, about 55 pages each. I would hesitate to call them novellas because the type is so large.
The issue with these two stories, for me, is how stark they both are. The theme that they share is dealing with the consequences of rape and sexual violence. In both cases, the narrator helps perpetrate this violence, even if he or she has also been a victim of it. For example, Too Late is about a boy in a juvenile detention centre for individuals who have committed sexual assault. He has definitely been the victim of his father, but he has to face the fact that he has done the exact same thing to another person. I’ve never seriously thought about people like him, and what opportunities they have afterwards… can they change? What chances do they have? I don’t know.
In my review for the newsletter, I needed to suggest what age range the book is written for. That is where my real problem came in. I really don’t know when it comes to a book like this. It’s a young adult book, but it isn’t for everyone in that age range. It isn’t graphic, but there were enough details to make me feel queasy, and both stories have such ambiguous endings. I know that there are teens out there who need to read books like this, because the right book at the right time can change everything, but I don’t know who they are. I finally ended up recommending it for reluctant readers over age 13, but I'm probably very, very wrong.

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