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Reading Between Classes

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

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Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal

Struck By Lightning: The Carson Phillips Journal (Audio) - Chris Colfer This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between ClassesCover Impressions: Not a big fan of the cover. The imagery itself is kind of bland and I think that having the author on the cover is a little cheesy.The Gist: Carson Phillips is determined to escape his small town and gain early acceptance into Northwestern University - the first step on his way to becoming the editor of The New Yorker. But, just being brilliant and maintaining an impeccable GPA isn't enough anymore. In order to stand out from the crowd, Carson starts a literary magazine, but in order to get submissions, he must resort to blackmailing his fellow studentsReview: From the very first line, I loved the main character. Carson Phillips is snarky and snarly and too smart for his own good. He is surrounded by people who either ridicule him, hold him back or downright sabotage him. I loved reading his dialogue with the other characters, but the introspection tended to get a little repetitive and droning. The other characters helped support the story without stealing the spotlight. I loved Carson's dedicated relationship with his Grandmother. Having watched a grandparent suffering with altzheimer's, I found his interactions based in reality - from the hope that springs forth on the good days to the humor that can be found in the smallest moments and the devastation that comes from the worst of days. I also enjoyed the complex relationships that Carson had with his parents and wanted to shake/strangle both of them (at one point I was actually screaming at stereo because I was so mad at his mother's actions). The writing is much tighter than I expected from a first time author who is, primarily, an actor. Except for those moments of lagging introspection, the plot moved quickly. I was with Carson every step of the way and felt his consternation with every setback. The one thing that did lose me was the ending. Naturally, I can't really speak of it without giving anything away but, suffice to say, it left me asking "the fuck dude?" and wanting to call up the author, begging for a re-write. Overall, I really enjoyed Struck by Lightning and am looking forward to seeing how the film version holds up. Teaching/Parental Notes:Age: 13 and upGender: BothSex: Instance of sex between teacher/student - no descriptionViolence: BullyingInappropriate Language: LotsSubstance Use/Abuse: Marijuana Use