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Monday, August 15, 2011

Review: Sean Griswold's Head (Leavitt)

Title: Sean Griswold's Head
Author: Leavitt
Genre: Fiction, High School, Friendship, Humor, Illness, Family
Pages: 288

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

After discovering that her father has multiple sclerosis, and the entire family was keeping it a secret from her, Payton decides to stop speaking to all of them. This winds up leading to mandatory counseling sessions at school, where a well-meaning school counselor gives her a "focus journal" and wants her to write about a "focus object." Not taking the assignment seriously, Payton focuses on the closest thing she can think of, the back of Sean Griswold's head. But her new focus leads to real interest in Sean and soon Payton must really come to terms with everything that is going on in her life.

First of all, I must say that I initially picked this book up because I thought that it was going to be the perfect "boy" book for my summer reading list. The cover art led me astray! But once I got over my initial disappointment at not discovering the quintessential middle school boy read, I fell in love with this book.

Payton is a likeable narrator, a typical teen girl who is conflicted between her anger/grief and her usual common sense good nature. She alternates between sarcastic, witty comments, and reflective narration. There are parts where I can actually picture the huffy teen eyeroll that she must be giving the guidance counselor.

This book is a hidden gem, that might take word-of-mouth, or some good booktalking, to sell to the right audience. The writing is a smooth balance between comedy and serious dealings with family crisis. There are credible teen characters and an authentic teen voice. The romance between Payton and Sean works so well in this book.

This is the perfect book for middle or high school students looking for something refreshing and realistic without being "angsty." It is a fun read with humor and heart that is sure to be popular with many readers.

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