Paper Covers Rock
by Jenny Hubbard
Purchased on my Nook
[#10 in my 75 book challenge]
This is one of those books that presents the reader with a terrible situation, and swirls around the truth of that situation for the entire novel until the truth is revealed at the end.
Plus there are lots of Moby Dick references and some INTENSE sexual tension (with a teacher, no less).
Alex and his friends, Thomas and Glenn, were drinking vodka in the woods near their all-male boarding school in Asheville, North Carolina (hey, another local book!). Each of the boys jumped off a large rock into the French Broad river, but only two came up alive. Thomas died when he didn’t clear the jump, leaving Alex and Glenn to make sense of exactly what happened that day on the river.
So yeah. There are secrets. LOTS of secrets. The secrets are what kept me reading and what kept me glued to the book, finishing it in one sitting.
The story is told almost like a series of essays. It’s definitely a cohesive story, but each sub-section reads like a high school English essay. Some of the sections actually are Alex’s high school English essays and poems. Alex is supposedly writing the story in a journal, which he is hiding on the shelves of the library, so they essay thing kind of makes sense. The writing does feel a bit pretentious and faux-literary at times, but what would you expect from a high school junior at an all-boys boarding school? I guess, in that sense, it worked and the style was realistic. But sometimes it drove me nuts with too much literary allusion.
Final Grade: B It was better than average, and I had a superb reading experience. Any book that keeps me gripped the way this one did deserves a good grade! It did have some pitfalls in terms of being a little too literary and trying a little bit too hard. I liked it, though, and I might even re-read it one day. There might be more layers than I could get at on the first go-round.
As for my recommendations as a media specialist — I think this one belongs in a high school library, but not a middle school. I don’t say that often. The content is fine, no more sexual or dark than other books we own, but the writing style would be beyond 99% of my students. There are better, more age-appropriate books I could buy with my funds.