Monday, October 7, 2013

Fall Reading 2013 Ostrich

This novel by Matt Greene is written in the first person by the protagonist, Alex. He writes as if he is practicing for his English composition exam, using large vocabulary words because he says the teachers think they are better words and it helps your score. He also loves to use parentheses (which is a better word for brackets). The things he talks about are usually the normal things a boy just becoming a teenager would be interested in - girls, growing up, school, friends, etc. But he also talks about the surgery in which they removed a tumor from his brain, his fears that his parents may be getting a divorce, his attempts to find proof that his father is having an affair, and his concerns that his hamster has a personality disorder. His remarks are funny, intelligent, and sometimes incredibly sad as he goes through the school year dealing with all these issues. Everything from Schrodinger's Cat to freezing onions before you chop them so they won't make you cry get mixed into the story, which makes it a bit like his mother's recipe for pasta Bolognese - which winds up with whatever is in the kitchen mixed in. As you read, you really come to know Alex and empathize with him (which is even better than sympathizing). You want him to find proof that his parents aren't going to split up, or to have the first kiss he is so nervous and curious about, or to call out, "I know what happened to your hamster!" Of course, he couldn't hear us if we did tell him anything, but he feels so real that you can't help the impulse.

The author does an excellent job of showing us what goes on inside Alex's head and getting our heads and hearts involved in his story. Some of the British expressions and slang may seem odd to American readers, but it will not detract from the book. I would recommend this for middle school and older readers because of the some of the things Alex discusses and the language he sometimes uses (like puberty details and the "eff" word). I must warn you, the book may cause you to cry at times. Reviewers have compared it to RJ Palacio's Wonder or Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley, but it was published on August 13, 2013. There is a bit of information about the author on the publisher's website

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