If a Tree Falls at Lunch Break by Gennifer Choldenko
|If a Tree Falls at Lunch Break by Gennifer Choldenko|
|Genre: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: A nice and easy-to-read story of two very different children, both having problems fitting in at high school, but who are connected in another, more surprising, way. Choldenko has a light touch and avoids lecturing her readers about moral points. In fact, in this world, it's mostly the adults who need the tellings off. A nicely pitched bittersweet story that will appeal to fans of Louis Sachar.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: January 2008|
|Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC|
Much to her mother's dismay, Kirsten has put on thirty pounds in three months. Kirsten feels the weight of her mother's disapproval and sees it mirrored in her friend troubles at school. Best friend Rory has abandoned her less-than-fashionable friend for Brianna, the school's spoilt princess. Kirsten is lonely and ready to sacrifice almost anything to join the in group too, but her conscience is a tiny but insistent voice inside that sees Brianna's group for the unpleasant, cruel clique that it is.
Walker is fresh to Mountain High from a failing urban school. He's bright, a scholarship kid. He's also black, in a school full of privileged white kids. Walk's mother is constantly on his back, reminding him of how much extra he has prove in order to succeed. There are times when Walk wishes he had known his father, a serviceman who died not long after he was born.
So Kirsten and Walk strike up a friendship, and one that will lead them into the discovery of a lasting connection they'd never dreamed existed.
The book jumps from Kirsten to Walk and back to Kirsten again in short, snappy chapters, some only a paragraph or two long. I liked the twin perspectives. It was interesting to see Kirsten and Walker struggle with very similar problems, but problems they see as very different. Ultimately, these two adolescents have far more in common than they realise, on every level, not only that of the twist in the plot, and this provides great tension in more than just narrative. However, Kirsten narrates her own sections, while we meet Walk in the third person only. I don't know why Choldenko chose to do this, but I found that it grated. It felt a little neither Arthur nor Martha. However, this is a minor pick.
If A Tree Falls At Lunch Break has a wonderfully light touch. It talks about bullying, eating disorders, family break ups, family secrets, racism, snobbery and, really, just about every other issue that weighs heavily on adolescents. Yet you never feel swamped, or lectured, or depressed by it all, and this is thanks to sharp observation and a very delicate touch. I felt for Kirsten and I felt for Walk, but I never felt hopeless, and I don't think readers will either. There's a level of understanding offered in this little book that makes it one to buy rather than simply to borrow.
My thanks to the nice people at Bloomsbury for sending the book.
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