Monday, February 17, 2014

A Review of 'My Life as a Book' by Janet Tashjian

"Summer's finally here, and Derek Fallon is looking forward to pelting the UPS truck with water balloons, climbing onto the garage roof, and conducting investigations.  But when his parents decide to send Derek to Learning Camp, his dreams of fun come to an end.  Ever since he's been labeled a 'reluctant reader,' his mom has pushed him to read real books-- something other than Calvin and Hobbes.  

As Derek forges unexpected friendships and uncovers a family secret involving himself (in diapers, no less!), he realizes that surprising discoveries and adventures are around the corner, complete with curve balls."

A teacher that I helped in January let me borrow this book.  She's a fifth grade teacher and a lot of her kids really liked it, so I thought I'd read it.

As a twenty-something reading a book intended for middle school students, perhaps this isn't a fair review.  But I'll try my best.

One thing that I look for in a book is really good character development.  Great characters tend to make me fall in love with the book itself.  I also look for an interesting plot.  This book had about 1/4 of those things.  I thought that the plot involving Susan James was interesting.  If this particular subplot wasn't present, I think that I'd lose interest entirely.  As an avid reader (one who has been this way since she could read on her own), I hate reading books about people who don't like reading.  For me, it's very frustrating to have Derek say that he'd rather go sit outside and stare up at the clouds than read a book somewhere, especially when I know that my personal choice would just be the opposite.

As far as characters go, they lack any kind of depth.  Or rather, there is pseudo-depth to the characters.  While Derek is a little different from the beginning to the end of the book, his change in character seems really sudden to me.  Suddenly, he figures out what really happens with Susan James in Martha's Vineyard and suddenly he's this changed man.  His parents act the same and are quite predictable, even to Derek.  His mom says no a lot and then gets angry really quickly and oftentimes over stupid things.  His dad talks about how important it is that Derek invest in his future now, at twelve years old.  All the time.  These characters didn't do anything for me, really.

While there are some redeeming features to this book, this is not one I will be picking up again.

I give 'My Life as a Book':
Thanks for Reading!


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