Friday, August 3, 2007

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko

Kristen and Walk both are in the seventh grade at an expensive private school. Both of them are going through a hard time this year. Kristen's parents seem to be headed for divorce, and her best friend has deserted her for the seventh grade alpha girl. Walk is dealing with being one of the few non-white students at the school and trying to prove to his mother he's not going to mess up like his cousin.

It seems like Kristen and Walk don't have much in common. Then, they are paired on an extra-credit history assignment and slowly get to know each other. Soon, Kristen finds out something that will change their lives forever.

To avoid spoilers, I won't say what it is that Kristen discovers, but needless to say, it's an ambitious topic for a middle grade novel. And that novel could be amazing; after Choldenko's Al Capone Does My Shirts, I had expected nothing less from the author. In this case, though, I was disappointed.

The book alternates between Kristen and Walk's voices; however, it is written in the third person, which I felt significantly decreased its power. I also felt that the book came to a resolution entirely too easily. Given the significance of Kristen's discovery, it's quite unlikely that the families would have come to terms with it as easily as the families in this book do. In general, the book seems rushed and incomplete. Still, it's admirable that Choldenko chose to write about a difficult topic.

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period, by Gennifer Choldenko, is due in stores on September 1, 2007.

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