Monday, November 8, 2010

High School Pick

The Other Side of Dark
The Other Side of Dark
by Sarah Smith
Antheneum Books for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster), 2010
309 pages

Book Giveaway: See below

Compelling, mysterious, and just outright in-your-face fierce, The Other Side of Dark is a novel that should not be missed. Told in chapters by the two main characters, Katie tells her story of becoming an orphan--an orphan who just happens to see ghosts. What's more: she draws them in her sketch book and knows their stories. Law tells his story: son of an African American Harvard professor and a white historian mother, his story is the story of a house divided by a father who expects--no, demands--reparations from the white man for all the evils of slavery and a mother who cares more about saving old homes than repairing her marriage.

Law is from a cultured family with ties to the upper crust of Boston. Katie, on the other hand, is not from the upper crust. She has never known the big houses with butler's pantries and Ivy League parents.

Katie and Law meet and are attracted to each other. They both are broken--Katie grieves her mother's death and doesn't want to talk to ghosts anymore. Law doesn't feel that he is good enough or black enough to be his father's son. He'll never live up to his father's plans for him. What Law really wants is to study architecture--not politics or race relations--he doesn't want to fight his father's fight. Law refers to his father as "the Voice" and says "he's always on." His father is always the orator, the teacher, the professor. Law has a passive-aggressive relationship with his father that simmers just under the surface.

That's only part of the book. When Katie starts seeing George, a ghost with Down's Syndrome, she finds a mystery in a burned out mansion--Pinebank Mansion which is set to be destroyed by the city of Boston--and She sees a slave ship, a lost fortune, a broken family, and the slaves' stories begin to haunt her. The teens launch a website to preserve the mansion but neither of them realize the secrets preserved at Pinebank.

Truly a book that will make a difference. Highly, highly recommended for high school students. Mature readers in grade 8 might also enjoy the book, but do realize there are language issues.

Language, racially charged language--used by Law when speaking of his father and his father's causes.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for my review.

Book Giveaway: I have 5 copies of this novel for giveaway. Post a comment and include your email. Deadline is December 15, 2010 at 12:00 a.m. MST

Books from Simon & Schuster


  1. Thanks for posting on LM_NET and referring to your blog. I'm always on the lookout for blogs that review books and I already have added some books from your blog to my Amazon list.

    Thank you,

  2. My students would love this book thanks for posting the review.
    Anthony Doyle

  3. I love getting a chance to read what others thought about a book. Thanks for posting on LM-NET and giving others the opportunity to experience this good read.

    Katy Charles

  4. I always enjoy what others write when they review books - I review as well and it is good to see how others approach a book. Thanks for posting on LM Net. My students would love to read this book.

    Diane Gallagher-Hayashi

  5. You have a wonderful way with words and make a book come alive. I have several readers who would love to read this book - The Other Side of Dark. It would be a situation where one reader turns the book in, having another reader right behind them to check it out!

    Rachel Bhattacharyya

  6. Love to have librarian blogs to follow! I'll definitely add you to my g-reader. The book sounds wonderful and would be a great addition at my school library.

    sngick at gmail dot com

  7. Thank you for sharing your blog... I will be sure to visit it in the future and have added this book to my list for future purchases. I can't wait to read it

  8. This book seems to be right up my student's alley. They love mysteries with a dark side and then a twist. I can see that this book would be one that never stayed on the shelves due to continuous check-outs. One of these books would certainly get the book going and then I should be able to add more next year. As so many districts are doing...we too are looking for ways to get new and interesting books into our student's hands due to out states dilemma. We are hoping for a windfall but for now we hang on by shear will power. I certainly appreciate the review. I am sure you have introduced a book that would have possibly been overlooked had you not given your inside interest and favor of the book.
    Thanks for sharing with all of us!

  9. Thanks to an email about this post, I found your blog! Not only do I love the warm look of your design (beautiful, retro flowers!) but I'm enjoying your reviews. I work in El Paso, Texas and I'm always interested in a freebie!

    This books seems very interesting to me. When I was in college, one of the complaints that my boyfriend had was friends said he wasn't "black enough." What does that mean and how do you deal with it? My boyfriend was a great grandson of a famous black inventor and how could he still not be "black enough?" Well, anyway, I am interested in this book!! Thanks for the review and my email is: barnumsb AT

  10. Nice blog! I also work for the El Paso Public Library System, and order YA books for my branch. : )

  11. Nice reviews! I will add your blog to my teen list!

  12. Thank you for sharing! Always looking for new great reads :)


  13. This book sounds very exciting and engaging. Thanks for posting the review and the chance to 'win'. I'm a new librarian and will add your blog to my favourites.


  14. Great blog site! I have started a book club at Juvenile Hall this year and the kids LOVE this kind of book--they love to see their own difficult situations mirrored in the lives of others. I think it makes them feel not so alone.
    I would love to share a copy of this book with them.
    Anne Hinchcliff

  15. Thanks for introducing me to your book blog. Thanks also for the opportunity to win a book.

  16. I'd love to be able to win this! Thanks for the opportunity!
    mearley1979 at gmail dot com

  17. Sounds good! Will be checking you blog for YA reads.

    kennybnp (a) gmail dot com

  18. I know several of my students who will be in line to read this one. Thanks for posting a link to your blog on LM_NET!

    pphs.library [at]

  19. As a high school Media Specialist, I am always looking for a great book for the students to read. This fits the bill- thanks for the information as well as the offer!

  20. How have I missed this blog? It's great! I love YA lit, and I love when other media specialists really get into it too. I have so many kids in my school that would love this book. I can't wait to see what you review next!

  21. Thanks for all your posts. This book would definitely circulate well in our library.
    I always look forward to your posts on LM-NET!

    Katherine Wright

  22. I appreciate your reviews and posts. They really help a busy librarian with a tiny book budget. My students would love this book.

  23. How do you find the time to read and review so many books?! Keep up the good work :)
    Lisa Hicks
    District Librarian
    Gunter ISD
    PO Box 109
    Gunter, Texas 75058

  24. Thanks for posting this on lm net. Sounds like a great book.

  25. You write fantastic reviews! Keep them coming - thank you!