Sunday, May 27, 2007

Narrator groupie

Hooray! The hiccup that Blogger experienced earlier this year while trying to load on my home computer seems to have gone away, as I am blogging from home today. I'm also trying to figure out a topic (cleverly titled, of course) for this particular blog entry. Hmm...

I finished Joel Johnstone as Holling Hoodhood and am now listening to him portray the somewhat more depressed Jeremy [insert somewhat Slavic sounding last name here] in The Day My Mother Left. One of my committee colleagues gave this title a slight rave, noting that Johnstone was just a teenager himself. Is this true, I ask myself? His website is a little uncooperative (but he does have nice blue eyes!) and IMDB and Wikipedia aren't any help either. Regardless, I enjoyed him as Holling, so I segued right into Jeremy. This novel is about the effect of the breakup of his parents' marriage -- his mother leaves the family suddenly (from 10-year-old Jeremy's point of view) -- on Jeremy. His story is particularly distressing because his mother chooses to have no contact with him.

But at this point in the story I'm a little wigged out. Jeremy is not quite 11 years old and has developed a crush on an art-school classmate (a few years older), who has posed nude for him, and then -- inexplicably to Jeremy -- disappeared from the class. Jeremy's older sister has explained (sort of) why this might have happened, which all seems perfectly reasonable (she's embarrassed by what she did), except that Jeremy's a little young to understand. So this is one of those teen books that isn't about a teenager, so we struggle with whether a teenager will read it. The story is so topical that I think it will have some teen appeal, but it will require some handselling. And, I don't think it's appropriate for most 10-year-olds weathering a parents' divorce. It might cut too close for them.

Johnstone is reading as professionally as he did for Wednesday Wars, but perhaps it was a mistake to listen to them back-to-back, as I'm occasionally needing to remember which book I'm hearing. So, any criticism about how successfully he's developing distinctive characters isn't really fair. It's a short listen, so I think I'll finish it up and refrain from all but basic comments to my colleagues.

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