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Author: Knowles, Jo
Publisher: Candlewick
Year Published: 2015
ISBN: 9780763663872
Grades:

Read Between the Lines

Reviewed by:

Does anyone ever see us for who we really are?
A unique novel set in a small town over the course of one day brings readers into the minds of nine teens and one teacher who, may pass each other through the school hallways, but are connected with that common angry gesture of the finger.
Readers will empathize with characters like Nate, who suffers a broken finger in gym class thanks to a bully but upon return from the hospital when he feels empowered by his splint finger — the middle one — and holds it as a weapon.  And on this day the finger —a gesture of power for Nate, or shame for Claire — will appear ten times over the course of the day.  The voices of the characters are at times gritty but are always honest.  Every reader will be able to find a home somewhere in the course of the novel.  Perhaps with the boy who lives with a distant father; the recent graduate who is counting the time before he can move on to his dream job; the brother and sister who are harassed by their neighbour; a gay couple that can’t be out and open; the girl who feels like she’s nobody; the girl struggling to fit in while accepting herself for who she is; or one of the other characters.
Knowles masterfully weaves these narratives together using the middle finger as her anchor. It’s smart and realistic.  I highly recommend this novel for both boys and girls whether avid or reluctant readers.

“The book proceeds, each new character entering, with his/her realities, dreams and secrets becoming another masterfully woven thread. With emotional explorations and dialogue so authentic, one might think Knowles isn’t creating but channeling the adolescent mind. A fascinating study of misperceptions, consequences and the teen condition. ” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Achingly truthful… The short story format could tempt reluctant readers, and many young adults will see shadows of themselves in the well-drawn characters. Hand this one to fans of dramatic realistic fiction and those who enjoy slice-of-life novels.”—School Library Journal
 

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