the slew of glowing reviews about this novel. Agreed: the cover is great (ahem, baseball). Agreed: it stands alone from the multi-award winning The Wednesday Wars even thought it is a companion novel. Agreed: the awkward play storyline.* Agreed: Nobody in the world writes like Gary D. Schmidt.
I'm going to say that he weaves this story. I know it's one of those forbidden review words, but that's what he does in all his novels. How he takes words and phrases and events and moves them in and out of his storytelling is genius. It makes the reader reflect and wonder what is it he is trying to put together and the result is a deep and involved reading experience. A reading experience that you feel. The plot is not pushed forward. He builds it gently and purposefully. Or as Doug says, "which you might remember if you cared." I love this. Love it.
3 more things to add:
1. The shout-out to the librarian cataloging all those Houghton Mifflin books (publisher of this novel) = fun.
2. In The Wednesday Wars, the passage where Holling says his sister's name for the reader ranks as one of the most memorable reading experiences of my life. I will never forget sitting in my car in a parking lot at work and wiping tears from my eyes as I listened to the CD. There's one of those in this one. Thanks, Mr. Schmidt.
3. I was worried reading this book. Ack! What if one day my sons don't like Gary D. Schmidt books?! I panicked for a moment. But only just that.
Note to the video: For 2 or 3 years we arranged for Mr. Schmidt to come to TLA. Every year there was some kind of transportation snafu. He finally came the year I was chair and I will forever regret the scant amount of time I was able to hear him speak.
*Okay, I will say that this could be what holds it back from proper medal award winning.
P.S. If anyone wants to talk about Doug's Dad & Ernie Eco with me I'd like to hear your thoughts on that in the comments.