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November 14, 2009

Pain and Wastings

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Pain and Wastings

Author: Carrie Mac

Page Length: 122

Reading Level: 3.6

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Ethan grew up on the bad side of town near Main and Hastings known to others as Pain and Wastings. Ethan’s mother was involved in prostitution and drugs – a life that eventually led to her murder. Ethan has been forced to grow up in foster homes. His anger and indifference to the world has landed him in legal trouble for which he is assigned to spend time with an emergency response crew. The events that happen on the nights out working the neighborhood remind Ethan of the pain he’s tried to avoid but just can’t escape anymore.

REVIEW: For an Orca book, this one was pretty good. I really liked the pacing and the way the author slowly reveals the tragedy that Ethan has so carefully disguised and tried to ignore responding to all these years. This book does deal with sex in the form of prostitution by both his mother and Kelly. In the story, drug use issues are prevalent and murder takes place. This is an intense read that the kids would probably stay hooked on—beware of all the “inappropriate” content.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: sequence of events, internal conflict, external conflict, character traits, dialogue, cause and effect, point of view, flashback technique

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: p. 104 “the man had finished, zipped up his pants…” and “her head bloody,” p. 96 “long enough to squeeze me through my jeans and give me a French kiss”

RELATED BOOKS: The Beckoners, Crush, Charmed, Retribution, Storm

RELATED MOVIES: “Forrest Gump”


REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

August 8, 2009

Autobiography of My Dead Brother

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Autobiography of My Dead Brother

Author: Walter Dean Myers

Page Length: 212

Reading Level: 7

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Jesse and Rise, though a couple of years apart, have been like brothers since they were young. They even made a pact once and became blood brothers. Lately Jesse’s noticed that Rise seems different. In his art work he begins to try capture what seems different about Rise. Outside, in his neighborhood, more violence is occurring every day. Drive by shootings have been happening in the area. Rise has begun to appear more violent and even talks about what it would be like to get their group, The Counts, into dealin’ drugs. Jesse’s terrified at the turn his friend’s life has taken and before he knows it, he too is in over his head. Can he save Rise and himself before it’s too late?

REVIEW: The story is filled with all the struggles of an inner city boy caught in a gang infested neighborhood. The reality of drug use, dependence, and dealing are ever present in this book. Myers describes drive by shootings and the fear present on the streets exceptionally well. The reader can feel Jesse’s pain as he sees Rise’s transformation but is powerless to stop him. The story line lends to a good classroom discussion about choices, circumstances, and reactive paths of action. I think that students would be able to relate to this story and would enjoy reading it as a class.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: comparing text to self, compare and contrast, sequence of events, foreshadowing, character traits, setting

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: firebombing, guns, drive bys, intimidation, prostitution

RELATED BOOKS: Shooter, Monster, Malcolm X, Fallen Angels, Slam!, The Beast, The Glory Field

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds, Freedom Writers


REVIEWED BY:  Dayna Taylor

May 21, 2008


Filed under: C — thebookreviews @ 9:47 pm
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Author: Carrie Mac

Page Length: 107

Reading Level: 3.8

Genre: Realistic Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: Izzy is a teenage girl growing up in a broken-home. Her mother has a live-in boyfriend whom Izzy does not get along with. While Izzy’s mother is away for several months, trouble begins – Izzy gets kicked out of her own house for stealing from her mother’s boyfriend.

Izzy is infatuated with a high school drop-out named Cody Dillon. Cody has a reputation for hanging around hookers and drug dealers. Izzy at first is unaware of this. Her mind is only on Cody’s looks and personality. At first, Cody showers Izzy with gifts and attention and Izzy begins to feel quite comfortable “leeching” off of Cody. She does not ask where the money comes from for all she is being provided.

Just as Izzy feels that her relationship to Cody is growing more serious, Cody reveals to Izzy that he owes his “dealers” $5,000. It is then that Izzy realizes that she is going to be pimped out to collect the debt. Izzy’s entrance into a “prostitution ring” has begun. Excessive drug use, drinking, and sexual/physical abuse ensue as Izzy feels trapped in a world that is all too real and all too horrifying.

As time passes, Izzy finds out that Cody’s “sweet actions” toward her in the beginning were all an act. Cody has treated other girls/prostitutes in the same manner. This realization is the last straw for Izzy. With the help of another prostitute, Izzy escapes “the ring” and returns home.

The story ends with Izzy and her mother moving to a new town, without the mother’s boyfriend, to begin anew.

REVIEW: I felt the basic story line was interesting, yet I believe the author over-used some curse words to the point where the story line felt less authentic. I wish the author had used some more description in her writing in dealing with the setting and emotional states of the main characters. Simply jotting down the names of drugs and curse words did not do it for me. I was looking for more! I believe that a struggling reader’s attention would be maintained with this book, yet I caution anyone from assigning it as to the mature content it contains.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: predictions & foreshadowing (pages 40-41), use of capital letters for emotional effect (early chapters), conflict (page 80)

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: CAUTION!!! – Every 3-4 pages contain references and words that relate to prostitution, sex, violence, drugs, abuse, body parts, diseases, and/or drinking. The references are too numerous to list all the page numbers, yet some pages you can refer to for a brief over-view are – 8, 22, 25, 36, 38, 51, and especially page 66! The book’s cover is even a little risqué.

This is the first book that I have previewed in which I have thought about not keeping out for all students to access. Please preview this book before letting others read it!

RELATED BOOKS: Sold by Patricia McCormick (prostitution from another cultural perspective), Go Ask Alice


REVIEWED BY: Kevin Stratton

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