Monday, November 8, 2010
High School Pick
The Other Side of Dark
by Sarah Smith
Antheneum Books for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster), 2010
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