Saturday, 15 January 2011

Review: If A Tree Falls At Lunch Break - Gennifer Choldenko

Struggling with an eating disorder, rows between her parents. and the loss of her best friend to the clique of school bullies, Kirsten feels like the only person she can trust is her genius younger sister Kippy.

Forced by his mother to move away from his old school and the bad crowd his cousin goes around with, Walker is trying to fit in at a new private school. When the pair meet, everything will end up changing.

I was expecting something light, frothy and comic from the cover to this book, but was surprised by how many issues it touched on and really enjoyed author Gennifer Choldenko's deft handling of them. Racism, snobbery, eating disorders, relationship problems, bullying, and theft are all touched on in greater or lesser detail and it's a realistic view of them for the most part. It's helped by likeable lead characters Kirsten and Walker, and I enjoyed the contrast between Kirsten telling her story in the first-person and the third person narration focusing on Walker. Short chapters, many lasting just a few pages, make it an appealing book for younger readers to pick up and read a bit at a time, while more confident readers will race through it thanks to Choldenko's fun writing style.

A special mention for Kirsten's mother as an especially interesting character - while I hated her for much of the book as she tried to convince Kirsten to fall in with the popular girls who were clearly EVIL, when everything was revealed I could see what she was going through and why she perhaps wasn't in a position to give great advice.

I also loved the book's ending - satisfying yet thought-provoking, leaving a lot of questions still to be answered about where the characters would go from here.

Recommended to older MG or YA readers, particularly fans of Louis Sachar.

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