Over the span of one day, Knowles’ novel offers glimpses into the intertwined lives of nine teens and one high school teacher.
These days, “to read between the lines” means two very different things: One, with a gesture, is the ultimate insult, and the other is to garner more insight than is readily apparent. Here, both definitions fit. Each character either receives or “gives the finger," and each chapter provides a “between the lines” peek into the characters’ lives, always revealing a disconnect between the realities of their lives and the ways in which they are perceived by others. First up is Nate Granger, a much-harassed high school freshman whose middle finger is broken by a bully during gym class. Nate is tormented by the fact that his mother died in a hit-and-run crash while on her way to pick him up at school and struggles to deal with his abusive and resentful father. While Nate is in the nurse's office, Claire—another student, and the next character to come into focus—comes in, feigning cramps, and is dismissed from school. Feeling her life and relationships superficial, Claire takes a bus into the city in search of a meaningful experience. The book proceeds, each new character entering, with his/her realities, dreams and secrets becoming another masterfully woven thread. With emotional explorations and dialogue so authentic, one might think Knowles isn't creating but channeling the adolescent mind.
A fascinating study of misperceptions, consequences and the teen condition. (Fiction. 14-18)