book review: Bird in a Box by Andrea Davis Pinkney; illustrated by Sean Qualls
book review: Teenie
Teenie is the story of a high school freshman who is trying to find her fashion sense, get good grades and develop her relationships with others. While her closest (only?) friend Cherise is hooking up the strange older men at night, Cherise is trying to learn how to talk to boys on the Internet in clunky, long hand conversations. Teenie lives with both of her parents while her twin brothers are off to college. From her parents, she has developed an appreciation for other cultures and she wants to travel to Spain to study.
I liked that Teenie was a smart girl who had an academic purpose. I want to say I liked the tone of the the book; I liked the wholesomeness of it but there was a touch of locker room that was way out of place. I didn’t understand why Teenie and Cherise were friends and Cherise herself even stated this in the book! I didn’t know enough about Cherise to understand why Teenie felt a loyalty to her and I didn’t know the character’s history to help me figure this out. I have a hard time feeling sorry for stupid characters and Teenie was stupid. She lacked street smarts and didn’t have sense enough to rely on people around her. She seemed way too immature to be ready for a trip overseas. I do have to remind myself that characters are not perfect, they won’t be if they’re fully developed. The trick is for the character to be developed in ways that readers are able to empathize with them and to want the best for them.
I so wanted her to turn to her brothers for help! I wanted Teenie to learn to trust them and I wanted to really see how close Teenie’s family was. She learned she could trust each of her parents, why not her brothers?
As they say, ‘the devil is in the details’ and these details can make a mediocre story just that much better. Teenie is not an awful book. 7 & 8th grade girls will be drawn to this book and many will enjoy it. While Teenie is a ‘good’ girl, she speaks in a language and lives a life to which many girls can relate. While she’s over her head with the boys, her real issues are with school, meeting her parents expectations and maintaining friendships. It’s a worthwhile add to the media center and I eagerly look forward to another Christopher Grant book.