Posts Tagged ‘Brain injuries’

What about Will

By Ellen Hopkins

ISBN 9780593108642

Penguin Random House

Ellen Hopkins name is synonymous with verse novels. Her ability to take you inside the thoughts of her characters is well known and well respected. Writing mostly for the young adult audience, her latest book What about Will is aimed at the younger, middle grade readers.

Trace Reynolds is 12 and the younger brother of 17 year old Will. They were tight once. Good friends as well as brothers but after Will suffers a brain injury at a football game, everything changes. Will becomes angry, depressed and antisocial. Their mother has not long since left the family and now Trace sees Will slipping away from him too. Things begin to disappear and Will mixes with a new group of teens, and they are not the best people to be around.

Throughout the novel we feel Trace’s pain. He is caring and kind and and worries about Will. He misses his mother who he hasn’t seen in months. We feel his confusion as he becomes conflicted with trying to find out what is wrong with Will or waiting to see if Will will come right. He covers for his brother, trying to protect him but only he can decide, if it is the right thing to do. But Will doesn’t come right and things begin to spiral out of control.

This novel, in verse form, deals with many issues. Family breakdown, little league, trust, betrayal, brothers, head injuries, drug addiction. It’s all in here and woven together thoughtfully, with careful consideration to the reality of Trace and Will’s lives. Their characters and their situations offer an insight to what many families are going through. The things that happen here, happen in real life.

Friendship is a theme running through the book and one that highlights the importance of having someone who listen when you need them.

Highly recommend this book. A good solid story, authentic characters and great writing.

The way I say it

By Nancy Tandon

ISBN 9781623541330

Charlesbridge

What do you do when your name is Rory and you’re going into sixth grade and you can’t even pronounce your own name. Rory is a smart, musical kid with a speech impediment. He has difficulty saying the letter r. It doesn’t matter if it is at the start of a word, or snuggled up inside a word, the letter r trips him up, and according to some people, makes him sound like a baby. He is made fun of because of the way he talks. A fall out with his former best friend, Brent, also adds to his troubles. Bullying is a strong contender in this middle grade novel. You can feel Rory’s pain and frustration. He really wants to get his letters and words right. He wants to sound like everyone else.

Rory regularly sees a speech teacher, Mr Simms, at school and it is this relationship which holds the key to making things right. Both are fans of the boxer Muhammad Ali, and both fans of good music. Both of these things play a significant role in helping Rory overcome his speech problems and his understanding and dealing with issues concerning Brent.

When an accident happens and his used-to-be best friend, but now enemy and bully number one is seriously hurt in hospital with a brain injury, Rory becomes confused about his feelings and struggles with doing the right thing.

The power of this novel is seeing the growth in characters. They are believable and I found myself drawn to them all, even the bullies. Writing that connects you to the characters, is good writing. Rory’s friend Tyson brings lots of humour to the story too, and just like in middle grade school, there are crushes and mixed emotions and even mixed up crushes.

A good solid read, with a mix of humour, bullying, being different, brain injuries, and friendships. Really enjoyed this read.