By Jenny Meyerhoff (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2010)
This young adult novel, loosely based on the Book of Esther, revolves around 15-year-old Essie Green, who wants desperately for her sophomore year in high school to be different. She’s just made the varsity cheerleading squad so she could be noticed by football star Austin King. But when her cousin Micah moves back to her Michigan town and brings his observant ways with him, Essie questions who she is and what is right.
The good stuff
- “True” depiction–Book of Esther aside, it’s just a really great “true” read. I was transported back to my high school days.
- Ethical struggle–Mirrors what many teens might be feeling and how they struggle with ethics
- Complex characters–Essie isn’t the only character who transforms. I expected Austin to be stereotypical and he wasn’t
- The issues of grandparent adoption and custody battle–A nice addition to the story that presents a nontraditional family (in both the structural and religious sense)
- Hazing–With the recent headlines of college student suicides catalyzed by hazing and bullying, this is a timely treatment of the topic
The not-so-good stuff
- Link to the Book of Esther–Was it necessary? The book could have stood on its own without this.
- Inconsistent sophistication and freshness of language–Cliched phrases and vague writing stopped me cold
Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0