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The Sharp Time
by Mary O'Connell

Overview - In the week following her mother's death in a freak accident, eighteen-year-old Sandanista Jones finds small measures of happiness even as she fantasizes about an act of revenge against an abusive teacher at her high school.  Read more...

 
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More About The Sharp Time by Mary O'Connell
 
 
 
Overview
In the week following her mother's death in a freak accident, eighteen-year-old Sandanista Jones finds small measures of happiness even as she fantasizes about an act of revenge against an abusive teacher at her high school.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780385740487
  • ISBN-10: 0385740484
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
  • Publish Date: November 2011
  • Page Count: 240
  • Reading Level: Ages 14-UP


Related Categories

Books > Juvenile Fiction > Social Issues - Emotions & Feelings
Books > Juvenile Fiction > Social Issues - Death & Dying
Books > Juvenile Fiction > Social Issues - Friendship

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2011-10-03
  • Reviewer: Staff

In an evocative first novel, O’Connell introduces an injured teen, whose sharp-edged grief and loneliness are deeply felt. After her single mother’s death, 18-year-old Sandinista Jones cuts off communication with friends and concerned adults, so she has no one to turn to when she’s targeted by an abusive teacher. On impulse, she stops going to school and takes a job at Pale Circus, a vintage clothing store that becomes a welcome escape (“Opening the door of the Pale Circus is like falling into a morning dream of Oz-bright Technicolor: you walk up any old flight of stairs, open a random closet door and find a dance hall in full swing”). Yet Sandinista’s violent urges to seek revenge against her teacher grow stronger each day. O’Connell shows exceptional skill in building tension and creating atmosphere, particularly that of the neighborhood where Sandinista works. Minor characters—Sandinista’s co-worker, her boss, neighboring monks and shopkeepers (many of whom carry burdens of their own)—add color, depth, and comic relief. Their vulnerabilities and compassion have a strong impact on the heroine as she cautiously reaches out for support. Ages 14–up. (Nov.)

 
BookPage Reviews

The burdens teens bear

The Sharp Time spans just one week in the life of high school senior Sandinista Jones. Her post-graduation plans fell apart when her mother died unexpectedly, and after a conflict with a teacher makes school seem like anything but a safe haven, she’s alone and frightened, but also very angry and out for revenge. A possible channel for her angst appears when she takes a part-time job at a vintage clothing shop, The Pale Circus, and finds a potential soul mate in co-worker Bradley. Yet such intense focus on her own drama causes her at first to miss the fact that Bradley has significant troubles of his own. Maybe their friendship can lead them both to some healing and resolution. If not, her punk rock name isn’t going to be the scariest thing Sandinista turns loose on the streets of Kansas City.

Mary O’Connell has given us a bright, energetic heroine who manages to keep a sense of humor despite suffering some very hard knocks. The book opens up discussions of a lot of big issues—teacher-student bullying, Catholic sex abuse, gun control, grief, revenge, vandalism, theft—and doesn’t offer any pat answers, making The Sharp Time a good pick for reading groups. You can’t call it a happy ending, but there’s comfort in seeing Sandinista learn that when bad things happen, “you just have to take it, you have to feel it. There is nothing else.” That, and a friend who’s got your back, just might be enough.

 
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