Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Beau Geste

Sunrise is at 6:32, sunset will be 6:08.

I like getting up in the morning, grabbing a book, and getting on the stationary bike to read while I ride.

I like to ride in the dark and wait for the graying of the light to read because the earth hasn't tipped far enough towards the sun. Sometimes I have to hold the book close and read without my glasses, the light just isn't bright enough, but the book is so good I will endure the eye-cramps that come as a result. Sometimes I get on the bike and find I have biked for miles and I am really wet, still pedaling along, unwilling to stop until the last page is turned.

That happened today. The light coming in the window was a pearly gray from the west, the radio is on in the kitchen, and I go into work late on Wednesdays. A perfect convergence that allowed me to completely lose myself in Jeff's story.

After Ever After is Jordan Sonnenblick's sequel to Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, one of the best books ever about being the healthy child when something horrible happens in a family.

Jeff is in middle school now, celebrating the fifth year of being in remission from leukemia. His big brother, Steven, the hero of D. G. and D. P., is in Africa studying drum techniques, finally rebelling against being the perfect child after all those years watching after Jeff, and Jeff misses him.

Jeff especially misses being able to talk about the things he can't really tell his mom and dad, like, he has a girlfriend, his best friend Tad is keeping secrets, and he is certain he won't pass the standardized math test that will let him go to high school, whether he gets tutored or not. It's not enough that he worries about his cancer coming back, but now he has all this other stuff to deal with, too.

When Ms. Palma, Jeff's English teacher, introduces the class to Cyrano de Bergerac and the Beau Geste, the beautiful gesture, Tad, the sarcastic, wheelchair bound best friend gets a look in his eye and then a little busy starting an underground movement to right some wrongs.

I loved this book. Jeff, Tad and Lindsey are great characters, realistic, funny, sympathetic. They care for each other and it really shows. The story is often LOL funny and there is plenty to recommend it to both young men and women. I have read everything Jordan Sonnenblick has written and I am so glad he brought us back to Steve and Jeff's family.

If you are looking for a book that features every day people dealing with life, no vampires, werewolves or angels, at least not the heavenly kinds of angels, a book whose story actually reflects our lives, a book that is hopeful and inspiring, read this one. After Ever After is a good book.

(Published by Scholastic Press, $16.99. It is available now and appropriate for ages 11 and up. Younger readers will enjoy it, older readers will get it.)

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