The Book Reviews – Website

August 30, 2009

Finding Fish

Finding Fish

Author: Antwone Quentin Fisher

Page Length: 340

Reading Level: 10

Genre: Autobiography       

PLOT SUMMARY: Antwone Fisher was born in a prison and immediately placed in foster care where he was constantly verbally abused, often physically abused, and on occasion, sexually abused.  He lived in the home of the Pickett’s with his two foster siblings for 13 years.  During that time, he expressed himself through artwork, but mostly led a rather silent life, feeling unworthy.  On page 72, Fisher writes how his dreams were abandoned and he lived only to survive the day-to-day routine of school and verbal abuse at home.

When Antwone entered a new school in fourth grade, he met an angel, his teacher, Miss Profitt.  She was fair and treated him as if he were special. Although the Child Protective Services monitored Antwone’s foster parents and they suspected the Pickett’s were not providing the appropriate domestic environment, there never seemed to be a better placement for Antwone. 

At the age of 16, Antwone was placed in a reform school, where he felt more comfortable and safe than in his foster home. Antwone knew he had nowhere else to go.  After a time at the reform school, Antwone left and found himself homeless.  He eventually joined the Navy and it was there that he found confidence in himself and learned that he was worthy of a good life.  He began to write poetry and demonstrated excellent written and oral command with leadership qualities (p. 291). Through his experience in the Navy, Antwone found family, friendship, belonging, education, and purpose.

He eventually reconnected with his foster siblings, his biological mother, and then, married and had a daughter, Indigo. 

REVIEW: Because of the tragic experiences Antwone Fisher experienced in his childhood, this book reads more like fiction than reality.  The harsh treatment he received by his foster parents is difficult to read.  However, the story gives hope to those who do experience abuse, poverty, and loneliness as Antwone tells how through a few positive contacts in his life he did strive to be the best he could be. 

Although the writing is very descriptive, the teacher should be aware that it is quite graphic.  I would suggest the book for mature students.

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: descriptive murder (p. 21), sexual abuse (p. 43-44, 241, and 245), harsh language and profanity (p. 138, 155, 195, 199-200, 231, 246, 274, 281)

AREAS OF TEACHING: Setting, Character, Sequence of Events, Cause/Effect, Point of View

RELATED BOOKS: The Antwone Fisher Story (screenplay), Who Will Cry for the Little Boy? (Poems), A Child Called It

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: Antwone Fisher (2002)

RELATED WEBSITES:

www.antwonefisher.net/index.html

www.harpercollins.com/books/9780061127410/Finding_Fish/index.aspx

www.mercury.educ.ketn.edu/database/eureka/

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

America

America

Author: E. R.  Frank

Page Length: 242

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Fiction         

PLOT SUMMARY: America is a 15-year-old boy who was abandoned by his drug-addicted mother.  He was sent to various foster homes, and as a young child he was repeatedly sexually abused by an “uncle”.  After becoming obsessed with matches and lighters, he set his “uncles” blanket on fire one night and watched the house burn to the ground.  He was teased for being bi-racial and was placed in various treatment centers.  America had several psychiatrists before he started working with Dr. B., after a failed suicide attempt. 

America uses terrible language and calls Dr. B many names, but the doctor patiently plays card games with America and eventually makes a breakthrough with him. After being a victim of the system for many years, America eventually learns to live on his own.  However, he never really escapes the fear of abuse, abandonment and loneliness.

REVIEW: The book is well written in chapter form that shifts from present day to the past from America’s point of view.  The descriptions of the abuse that America endured was gut wrenching and sometimes hard to read.  However, once I started reading, it was hard to put down. 

Because of the harsh language and descriptive sexual abuse, I question whether it should be on the classroom library shelves.  Teachers should be aware of its content. 

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: Harsh profanity (p. 28, 48, 59, 93,135, 136,142,148 158 and the remainder of the book), sexual abuse (p. 88, 93, 98, 98, 107, and 109), descriptions of other sexual activity (158 and the remainder of the book)

It is suggested that this book be previewed for appropriateness.

AREAS OF TEACHING: Character and Cause/Effect

RELATED BOOKS: A Child Called It

MOVIE & TV CONNECTIONS: America (2009, T.V. movie), Good Will Hunting (1997)

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.sptimes.com/2004/02/16/Nie/An_Interview_with_ER_.shtml

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

August 8, 2009

Aimee

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Aimee

Author: Mary Beth Miller

Page Length: 276

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: As far as everyone else is concerned, Zoe’s guilty. She can’t go anywhere near her old friends and her parents have had to move her away to a new school. Aimee is gone, and this is what Zoe gets for “helping” her – total alienation from her friends, loneliness, isolation, parents who think she’s a murderer, and weekly visits to see a shrink. All Zoe did was try to be a friend and this is her reward??

REVIEW: This book is not the average read by any means. Aimee was Zoe’s best friend. She talked often of killing herself and one night in Zoe’s presence does just that. There are issues of teen sex where Zoe had sex with Chard and took hot baths, etc. taking what she considered aggressive actions not to be pregnant. Aimee tells Zoe stories of an abusive step mother who assaults her sexually. Zoe deals with her own depression and anorexia as a result of the incident. Zoe’s parents are cracking under the stress of probation, psychiatrists, and Zoe’s erratic behavior. On the other hand, the book deals well with an extremely emotional topic – suicide. The reader experiences first hand Zoe’s pain, loss, and suffering (which might make an excellent anti-suicide teaching point). The topics covered in the book are excellent for sparking classroom discussion / debates. Should you elect to let your students read this book – it should definitely be a page turner and of high interest.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: character traits, sequence of events, flashback, depth of emotion for character development, cause and effect, comparing and contrasting

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: girl talks about slitting her wrists (p. 86), child abuse reference (p.133), suicide reference (pgs. 243-246)

RELATED BOOKS: On the Head of a Pin, Handtalk School, The Pact, Thirteen Reasons Why, Hold Tight, Teen Suicide

MUSIC CONNECTIONS: Good Charlotte – Hold On, Linkin Park – Breaking the Habit

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://www.teenreads.com/features/020415-aimee.asp

http://www.teensuicide.us/

http://library.thinkquest.org/12333/page2.html

REVIEWED BY:  Dayna Taylor

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