Thanks to a bully in gym class, unpopular Nate suffers a broken finger--the middle one, splinted to flip off the world. Read more...
Thanks to a bully in gym class, unpopular Nate suffers a broken finger--the middle one, splinted to flip off the world. It won't be the last time a middle finger is raised on this day. Dreamer Claire envisions herself sitting in an artsy cafe, filling a journal, but fate has other plans. One cheerleader dates a closeted basketball star; another questions just how, as a -big girl, - she fits in. A group of boys scam drivers for beer money without remorse--or so it seems. Over the course of a single day, these voices and others speak loud and clear about the complex dance that is life in a small town. They resonate in a gritty and unflinching portrayal of a day like any other, with ordinary traumas, heartbreak, and revenge. But on any given day, the line where presentation and perception meet is a tenuous one, so hard to discern. Unless, of course, one looks a little closer--and reads between the lines.
- ISBN-13: 9780763663872
- ISBN-10: 0763663875
- Publisher: Candlewick Press (MA)
- Publish Date: March 2015
- Page Count: 336
- Reading Level: Ages 14-17
- Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.05 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-01-12
- Reviewer: Staff
Ten interconnected stories set over the course of one day at a small-town high school reveal a well of despair and confusion among the nine students and one teacher whose lives are examined. Beginning with Nate Granger, a bullied freshman whose middle finger is broken by a basketball hurled like a weapon in gym class, each character either delivers or receives the obscene single-digit salute. Knowles (Living with Jackie Chan) catalogues their backstories and charts the way the lives of these cheerleaders, athletes, nerds, and stoners intersect, allowing readers to see a bigger picture than the characters themselves are able to do. The plot device of inserting a raised middle finger into each story wears thin after a while, but the idea of looking past an angry gesture to understand what led to it makes for an empathetic approach to understanding random hostility. Teens who read these stories will likely never see a raised middle finger again without wondering what the story is behind it. Ages 14–up. Agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (Mar.)
Letting the bird fly
Jo Knowles’ new novel was apparently inspired by a real-life incident in which the author and her family were given the finger by another driver, even though he was in the wrong. This episode prompted her to think about the aggression, power and even hatred implied by this small gesture.
Read Between the Lines is a series of linked short stories set over the course of a single day. Each chapter focuses on the private life of a student—from cheerleaders and bullies to those they overlook or prey upon—and includes “the finger” in some way. Each can be read and appreciated in isolation, but readers will enjoy piecing together the stories and the accompanying relationships.
The novel’s most profound revelations belong to the final chapter, when one of their teachers shares her own secret stories: “Just like there is more to her than what they see, there is more inside each one of them.” It’s a message that may inspire readers to consider the lives of strangers before rushing to pass judgment—or flipping the bird.