Here is another Newbery buzz book. It got a starred review in every major review source I checked. Trent Zimmerman is 11 years old and is in very difficult place emotionally. He is traumatized by his parent's divorce, but also by an accident that occurred in the recent past in which his friend died. His trauma makes him full of fear, which easily turns into an explosive rage when he is put into an uncomfortable situation. Luckily, he meets a girl, Fallon, whose buoyant personality and sunny outlook lets him temporarily escape from his fear and hate filled environment. Fallon is not without trauma in her own past, and when she witnesses one of Trent's violent explosions it triggers her own unpleasant memories and threatens their friendship. Trent knows he has to find a way to win back her trust, and that search leads him to a better emotional place of his own.
Ok, so it sounds heavy, doesn't it. It is. But it is also a really authentic depiction of a boy's struggle with some serious emotional issues. This is the kind of book teachers could give to a traumatized kid to help them through a difficult time. Or it is a book parents and teachers could read to help them understand the behavior of traumatized kids. I am not sure what child I would give it to for casual reading. I guess, if there was a kid who really liked social issue books, this would be a good choice. I have met kids like that, mostly 12 or 13 year old girls. But I am not likely to be sharing the book with your average pre-teen boy very much. (298 p.)
(I have read several of these social issue, contemporary fiction in a row, and I am pretty ready for some fantasy. I was therefore excited when I saw that my hold on The Hollow Boy Jonathan Stroud had come in.)