Read Between the Lines

by Jo Knowles

Set in a high school community over the course of a single day, each chapter of this... read more

Set in a high school community over the course of a single day, each chapter of this novel is told from the point of view of a different individual, most of them students, one a recent graduate, one a first-year English teacher. At some point, each of them is either on the giving or receiving end of “The Finger.” A gesture that looks and feels incredibly impulsive and rude when on the receiving end becomes surprisingly weighted and nuanced when the context behind it is revealed. Readers are privy to what the person being flipped off is not: the frustration, humiliation, fear, or despair that the individual flipping them off experienced in minutes, hours, or even days leading up it. Sometimes it’s even a lifetime of pain as a story reveals challenging or dysfunctional family dynamics. Unexpected moments of connection and tenderness are also on display. The well-drawn characters are a mix of types—jock, cheerleader, slacker, and loner—each one proving to be more than what they seem when the person behind the label is even briefly revealed. While characters appear in multiple stories—sometimes as the protagonist, sometimes in the background—the stories are not directly overlapping or perfectly tied up. Neither high school nor life is that neat. (Age 14 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2016

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