As I was on blog-world hiatus when the National Book Award finalists were announced, I wasn't sure if I was alone in thinking that the inclusion of David Small's Stitches on the Young People's list was surprising and a little bit annoying*.
*Not because there's anything remotely wrong with Stitches, of course. But as it is on the YPL list, that means that a book that was actually published for Young People was cut to make room for it. Which doesn't seem right.
Just so you know how completely pathetic I am: I watched the trailer through my fingers.
Just so you know what a total jerkface my husband is: after the movie was over, he went outside and tiptoed around to different windows, tap-tap-tapping them until I hid in the middle of the house where there are no windows.
Just so you know how I really felt about the movie: I called my father to tell him that he HAD to go out and buy it, because it was utterly awesome and had great effects, good acting and a great storyline and because even though it made me so scared I thought I was going to barf, I adored it. (Then I stayed on the phone with him until Josh got tired of waiting for me to walk by another window and came back inside.)
A) Reading for the Cybils. B) Working my way through the TBRT#2 submissions.
Also, I've been distracted by:
A) That &%*$ D&D online game. B) A three-day party this past weekend that was literally the most amazingly debauched event I have ever witnessed.
A) The lack of daylight. I do most of my posting in the morning, and I have an incredibly hard time getting up when it is still dark out. Daylight Savings kicks in soon (I think?), and that'll help. (Unless it already did, and then I'll know that I REALLY have problems.) B) Overwhelm-ed-ness leading to procrastination. I have a pile of 20+ books waiting to be written up sitting right behind my head. I'm thinking I might just clear the decks with a mega-post about all of them. Or most of them, at any rate. Kind of like how every once in a while I need to delete everything in my RSS reader to start fresh.
Anyway, thanks to everyone who has expressed concern or checked in with me via email! All is well.
Until I saw this book cover up close, I thought the kid was wearing a hoodie.
But... nope. It's a body bag. Yowza. Big points to the designer. [Later: Just found this post about the process behind creating the cover. They definitely made the right call in changing it.]
Since I loved his voice so very much, I'll let Micheal introduce himself (this is from page two):
I started out in 9A, in case you're wondering, one down from honors. I'd done OK on the test they made us all take back at the end of eighth grade. Better than OK, but the classes didn't work out. They said I wasn't "applying myself," and that's fair enough. Then I threw Oscar Tully a serious beating for saying something he shouldn't've, and that was that, down to general in the middle of the third marking period. I had no idea what was going on in G, and I didn't really feel like trying to figure it out. Sophomore year started and I found myself in 10R.
Fine with me, that's where someone like me belongs--someone of my "pedigree," if you read me. This should clue you in: My first name is spelled wrong. It's Micheal instead of Michael. Mom or Dad, one of them dropped the ball on that one, probably Dad, in the hospital or wherever it is you fill out that paperwork. Not that it matters; everyone calls me Mike. Still, it's a bad way to start things out.
Micheal, Mixer, Tommy and Bones have been friends for a long time. They know each other well. So, when Tommy doesn't show up in his afternoon classes after throwing a desk in math, the others don't think much of it. After all, it's likely that he's been suspended.
But then he doesn't show up the next day. And he doesn't answer his phone. And his mother doesn't know where he is.
That's when the three remaining boys start to think about what went on in English class that day. And about what may have really happened to Tommy.
Short version: Gentlemen gets a Hulk-sized double thumbs-up from me. I'm totally in love with it and you really should run to your local library and snag it immediately.
Longer-but-still short version: What, you don't believe me? See above. Yeesh. Really. Micheal is very bright, very perceptive and always believable. His voice is fresh and distinct, clever in a way that feels new, gritty and hard-boiled in a way that feels true to his age, and darkly funny in a way that never comes off as flip or downplays the situation. He spun the story out in a way that kept me guessing until he himself realized what had happened and what was going to happen, and I'm just totally in love. Even after finishing the book, I find that I'm thinking of him as a real person.
It's an outstanding, excellent book, and I very much hope that Michael Northrop will have more to come for the YA audience.