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Reading Between Classes

A unique perspective on YA Literature from a junior high teacher. 

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Chime - Franny Billingsley I have a soft spot for witches.I have always been fascinated with witch stories. Simply spying the word in a book blurb can make me sit up and take notice, (oddly enough, the word Werewolf usually makes me stop reading a blurb with disgust - an instinct that I should have listened to when I picked up Shiver. Damn you Stiefvater! Also, damn you for having a name that I have to check for spelling every time I want to curse you. But, I digress).Briony is a witch. At least, she tells you she is a witch. However, other than talk to a few people no one else can see she doesn't actually DO anything witchy. At the beginning, this brings out minor annoyance in me, prompting me to tell Briony "Come on, talk to the old ones, write their stories, do a spell - it's not so bad, you'll like it!". About halfway through the book, my irritation gives way to anger at how much of my time this book is wasting and my pleas get a little more dark: "Oh, you don't like that chick? Let's kill her!" and get more and more desperate "Come on, Just kill her! Maim her? Give her Boils? .... Hives? ... One, little, pimple?""DO SOMETHING"The writing itself is strange. Just when I think I have a handle on what is going on, Billingsley throws out something that leaves me flicking pages trying to figure out what I missed. She goes off on random tangents that have nothing to do with the storyline and only serve to add to my annoyance (see above). The plot points that are supposed to stun and shock me only leave me shaking my head and asking "You're just figuring this out NOW??? Where were you 100 pages ago?!" The only character that I enjoyed was Rose, and there was far to little of her. Briony's self hatred made me feel like I was reading a 13 year old's emo poetry and Eldric's constant figeting was more irritating than endearing. The word that came to mind throughout this entire book was Tedious. I found myself forcing time to read it when I would much rather be doing something more enjoyable like, oh I don't know, taking a bath in a tub full of razor blades. Teaching Note: While I am not sure any of my Junior High students would appreciate the quirky writing style, I might recommend it to a grade 9 student due to the difficulty and one scene of *almost* sexThis review can also be found at Reading Between Classes