In Zanesville: A Novel by Jo Ann Beard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Jo Ann Beard writes beautifuly and her observations about family dynamics and being a teenager are impeccable. In Zanesville: A Novel is a must read for a few of the lines alone. She describes the oldest son (and terror) of her last babysitting job as follows: "We've always thought of Derek as a large, overbearing kid who shouts out words we've only seen in spray paint." That just rocks.
I would have loved to give this book five stars, but I couldn't bring myself to do it because, and I hate being someone who says this, but any other author who didn't have a Guggenheim tucked in her illustrious past never would have gotten this no-plot wonder past a literary agent, much less an editor. Not in YA, not today. Oh no.
In a way, that's sad because I think Beard captures the pain and strangeness of adolescence in a way that we don't usually see in young adult fiction. The teenage perspective in this book is so spot on, I get the same feeling I have when I see pictures I took as a little kid: excellent composition from a child's height.
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