October 11, 2003

When I left Borders six months ago, I acquired a whole stack of advance reader editions of various books. "Uncorrected Proofs - Not For Sale." Some of them have been a delightful surprises, gems I probably wouldn't have found on my own. Some have been more of a let down. The True Story of Hansel and Gretel wasn't exactly fun, but then Holocaust literature rarely is. And now that I think about it, the slow pace probably suited winter in Poland.

The disappointment has been Jake Riley: Irreparably Damaged. The characters are between 14 and 16 years old, but the book reads like it was written for 5th graders. The point of view is not from the most interesting character, and in bringing up but failing to explore a number of issues (poverty, domestic abuse, child welfare programs, reform school, public school, distrust between adults and children), the author shirks the responsibility of her medium. Rather than address or wrestle with the problems, she takes the easy way out as Jake runs away from home.

But just because I didn't like it means it's hopeless. I'll be releasing the book with a Book Crossing ID sometime in the next week in the hopes that it might find someone to resonate with.

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