Childrens book reviews by StorySnoops, judge a book by more than its cover, serving fresh scoops of new books for you every day
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Archive for October, 2011

A Dream Classroom

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Some of my very favorite books were assigned as required reading in school. To Kill A Mockingbird, Catcher In the Rye, and The Great Gatsby – these are all books that I love, but I may have not picked up if a teacher hadn’t encouraged me.

I’m not a teacher, but I often think it would be great fun to teach a literature class. Or, perhaps since I am under-qualified to teach, I could just come up with an assigned reading list! What fun!

There are some new “classics” being taught since I was a student. Where The Red Fern Grows, Ender’s Game, and The Color Purple were all required reading for my son. It’s great to see some new(ish) books being added to the pile.

If you could teach any book to a class, or just add it to the curriculum, what would it be?

How amazing would it be to share the beautiful story of The Book Thief with a high school class? It is certainly rich in discussion material and history. Or how about The Perks of Being a Wallflower , sure to be enjoyed by even the most reluctant high school reader.

So, let’s start a list. In your dream classroom, what books are being read?

-Shannon, StorySnoop

Snoops’ Top Ten (ish) for Teens!

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Have you liked us on Facebook yet? On October 25th, we’re drawing a name from our new Facebook “likes” to win a signed copy of Josh Berk’s The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin, so check it out.

In honor of Teen Read Week last week and the Teen’s Top Ten list (see the winners here), we were inspired to create our own list of our favorite books for teens so far in 2011.  There are four of us though, so the whole “top 10″ thing was a little hard to adhere to once we got rolling.  Suffice it to say, we can’t count, but we can read! These are our faves so far in 2011, and they are in no particular order :-)

Agree? Disagree? Tell us your favorites so far this year. The more the merrier! And next week, we’ll bring you our Snoops’ Top Ten (or so) Books for Tweens.

And the Teen’s Top 10 winners are…plus Read Alikes!

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year. Nominators are members of teen book groups in sixteen school and public libraries around the country, then voting is open to all teens via the American Library Association’s website.  Over nine thousand votes later, the winners are…

1. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

2. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

3. Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick

4. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

5. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

6. Matched by Ally Condie

7. Angel: A Maximum Ride Novel by James Patterson

8. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

9. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

10. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Congratulations to all of the winners! And since we featured two of the winning authors on our site this week (you can see their interviews here), we thought we’d throw in some Read Alikes for their books that we enjoyed so much :-) So here goes.

If you liked:

Then you may also want to check out:

And, if you enjoyed:

Take a look at:

So many books, so little time! Enjoy!  –The Snoops

It’s Teen Read Week–Kiersten White is here today!

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

To celebrate the Young Adult Library Services Association’s Teen Read Week, StorySnoops is hosting a series of interviews with YA lit authors and enthusiasts.  Started in 1998, Teen Read Week is YALSA’s annual event encouraging teens to read just for the fun of it.  We hope you enjoy this series as much as we enjoyed putting it together!

Today we are excited to interview Kiersten White, author of the Paranormalcy and Supernaturally, the first two titles in the Paranormalcy trilogy. Paranormalcy has landed a spot on the ALA’s Teen’s Top 10 list this year! (Congratulations Kiersten!)  It is the story of Evie, a sixteen year old girly-girl who also happens to work for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, where her job is to track, tag and relocate harmful paranormals.

Welcome Kiersten! Evie is a great character—perfect blend of sass, girly-girl and action heroine! How did she develop in your imagination?  Is she who you wanted to be as a teen?

Paranormalcy really started with the idea for IPCA, but I knew I wanted it to be YA so I had to figure out why a sixteen-year-old would work for a secret international government group. I got the idea for a girl who could see through glamours and then Evie’s voice popped into my head, fully-formed. That first chapter is almost word-for-word what I wrote that very instant.

So, I can’t claim too much of her because she really just told me about herself. Evie is much perkier and more optimistic than I was as a teenager, and much more open to the color pink… I don’t know that I wanted to be someone like her, but I definitely admire her bravery, which is something I’ve never felt I had. Even when she’s afraid, she’ll still throw her shoulders back and go after what she wants.

We know you started writing seriously after your first child was born, but were you interested in writing before that? Did you ever envision this career when you were a teen? If not, what did you think you’d be when you grew up?

Yes! I actually always wanted to be a writer. I majored in English with an emphasis in editing. I thought I’d write and illustrate children’s books, until I realized I was a really crap artist. Alas. I tried my hand at middle grade first, but really found my passion when I started writing YA.

You’ve said that your books don’t contain mature themes and language out of deference to the younger end of your fan base.  Do you find it difficult to appeal to the older audience, while keeping it clean for the younger set?

I really don’t. I think you only broaden your audience when you make it accessible. Really it comes down to the story—this was a story I could tell without those elements, so I didn’t address them. And I think the story is mature enough to entertain adults without having sex and swearing. I can’t guarantee that all of my future books will be appropriate for younger readers (and even I worry sometimes when ten-year-olds read Paranormalcy, just because some of the concepts of relationships and dating are things I think they aren’t ready for yet), but I’m glad that this series was one I could make so accessible.

We just finished reading Stephanie Perkins’ new release Lola and the Boy Next Door, (loved it by the way!) and noticed that you are the first person she thanks in the acknowledgments. Are you two “author friends”, or were you friends before you were authors?  Is it great to have a confidant who writes for a similar audience?

I actually have no idea who she is, so that section was both flattering and vaguely creepy.

Just kidding. Stephanie is one of my best friends in the world. We met through blogging right after she signed with her agent. We started emailing and the friendship developed from there. She helped me learn to self-edit, and if you enjoy my books you should probably thank her, because I am a far better writer now than I was before I knew her. It’s been an amazing comfort to have someone on nearly the same publishing schedule to share all of the highs and lows with. Plus, she is adorable and hilarious and writes AMAZING books that I get to read first. Best deal EVER.

What draws you to the fantasy genre? Are you interested in writing any other genres, like realistic fiction?

I really love reading realistic fiction, and so admire those who can craft such compelling stories without fantasy elements. But…it’s not for me. Reading was always about losing myself in another world, and writing is much the same. I don’t want to write about something I could really live. I want to write about the world I live in, with real people and real emotions, PLUS MAGIC. Besides which, plotting is much easier when you can say, ‘AND THEN A VAMPIRE JUMPED OUT OF THE TREES AND ATTACKED HER.’ It’s a really convenient plot device.

Can you give us any sneak peek insider information about the plot of the trilogy finale, Endlessly? We promise not to tell ;-)

Yes! I can tell you that it is the third book in the trilogy, which is a series made up of three books! So…don’t tell anyone, but…it’s the last book. I KNOW. THE THIRD BOOK IN THE TRILOGY. WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED IT’D BE THE END?

Seriously though, nah, I’m not going to tell you anything. Except maybe it has a dragon. Maybe.

Thank you Kiersten! To keep up to date with Kiersten, visit her website. And thank you for joining us for our Teen Read Week interview series! If you missed any of the author interviews, you can find them here.

-The Snoops

It’s Teen Read Week – meet Ally Condie!

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

To celebrate the Young Adult Library Services Association’s Teen Read Week, StorySnoops is hosting a series of interviews with YA lit authors and enthusiasts.  Started in 1998, Teen Read Week is YALSA’s annual event encouraging teens to read just for the fun of it.  We hope you enjoy this series as much as we enjoyed putting it together!

Today we are honored to interview Ally Condie, a former high school English teacher and author of several teen books, including the Matched trilogy. The second title, Crossed, will be released November 1st.  The Matched trilogy tells the story of Cassia, who lives in a futuristic society where all of life’s decisions are made by the government, leaving virtually no room for personal choice or genuine emotion. She’s nominated this year for the Teen’s Top 10 list for the first title, Matched.

Welcome Ally! We loved Matched, which struck us as part dystopian lit, part romance lit. The dystopian genre is a bit of a departure from your past work. Are you drawn to that genre in particular, or did the story that you wanted to tell lead you there?

All my other novels are contemporary YA, but when I got the idea for Matched, I knew it had to take place in a world that was a bit different from ours. So you could say that the story, and Cassia, led me to the dystopian genre for this novel.

As an English teacher, you are very familiar with the dissection of literature and its themes! Where would you hope a classroom discussion about the Orwellian “Society” in Matched might lead teens?

Wherever they would like to go! I would love for them to find resonance in the text for their own lives, their own choices. I hope they can see themselves in the characters and that they find the story interesting.

The covers for Matched and Crossed are not only visually beautiful, but symbolic of Cassia’s life as well.  Did you have any input into the cover art?

I adore the covers. When they showed them to me, I didn’t really have any input but that was because I didn’t have anything to say except, “This looks perfect!” The model is exactly how I would picture Cassia, and I love the colors and fonts the designers have chosen and the beautiful work of the photographer as well.

What are/were your favorite books to teach to your English students?

I looked forward to teaching To Kill A Mockingbird every year. It’s such a wonderful, heartbreaking book. I also really enjoyed teaching Much Ado About Nothing and watching the students discover how fun Shakespeare can be.

What were your favorite books as a teenager? What’s on your nightstand now?

When I was a teenager, I loved reading Agatha Christie murder mysteries. I also loved novels by Anne Tyler and Wallace Stegner. They are still my three favorite authors. Right now I am reading Bunnicula with my son for his book group. (He’s in third grade.) : )

We can’t wait to read Crossed, but are sad we have to wait an entire year for the finale to the trilogy! Do you know yet how it will end? Can you tell us the title?

I do know how it will end! But I’m afraid that I can’t tell you the title because we haven’t finalized it yet. Soon, I hope! And I will be sure to announce it on my website, etc., when we do.

We also have a question for you from a sixth grade Junior StorySnoop, who read Matched and loved it. If you were Cassia, would you go with the rules and choose between Xander or break the rules and choose Ky?

How fun! This question is a great one—and it’s very, very hard for me to answer because I gave half of the characteristics I love about my husband to Ky, and half to Xander. But at the end of Matched, Cassia has chosen Ky, and I think that is the right choice. : )

Thank you Ally!  Don’t miss Crossed in stores soon. To find out more about Ally, visit her website at

Thank you for the opportunity! And for asking such great questions. : )

Join us tomorrow when we interview Kiersten White, author of Paranormalcy. And if you’ve missed any of our interviews so far, you can find them here.

It’s Teen Read Week–do you know Josh Berk?

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

To celebrate the Young Adult Library Services Association’s Teen Read Week, StorySnoops is hosting a series of interviews with YA lit authors and enthusiasts.  Started in 1998, Teen Read Week is YALSA’s annual event encouraging teens to read just for the fun of it.  We hope you enjoy this series as much as we enjoyed putting it together!

Today we are thrilled to interview author Josh Berk. Josh is the author of teen novels, The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin (a best book for teens 2010 by both Kirkus Reviews and and Guy Langman: Crime Scene Procrastinator (to be published in 2012). Josh studied young adult literature in graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh, which inspired him to start writing his own YA novels. Josh is a librarian living in Bethlehem, PA.

Welcome Josh! Your debut YA novel, The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin, was a top 5 favorite of 2010 on our website, and a book that we enjoyed and appreciated for the original voice you created in character Will Halpin. You clearly did very thorough research into the world of the hearing-impaired, as everything about Will reads so authentically. How did you create such a convincing deaf character?

Thank you very much! And Will thanks you as well. (Yes, I’m one of those crazies who sort of thinks my characters are real people.)  I did all sorts of different research – reading memoirs by deaf authors, reading non-fiction works about deaf culture, visiting deaf message boards online and spying on conversations there … all sorts of stuff! I also met a deaf librarian near the beginning of the process and she was kind enough to read my early pages and offer suggestions. And then I had some deaf readers later on who also helped me clarify certain things. It really was a world I knew next-to-nothing about going in, so I needed lots and lots of help!

Also, I really was living with Will in my head for quite a while. I’d just walk around and wonder what he’d think about various situations. I’d be like “What would it be like to be deaf in a crowded cafeteria?” and “Isn’t ringing a bell to signal the end of class sort of discrimination against the deaf?” and “What would Will order from this restaurant?” (Like Will, I think about food a lot.)

I think most writers love to try to figure out what it’s like in other people’s heads; empathy is one of our greatest tools. So it was that combination of trying to put myself in his shoes as well as traditional research that (hopefully!) created a convincing character.

Is Will a character that you will revisit? Can we look forward to seeing him in any future books of yours?

It’s so flattering when people ask and it makes me feel great that Will is a character people would like to read more about! (Also, Will himself agrees that he deserves many more books.) But I have no plans for another Hamburger Halpin book. I’m not totally ruling it out as a possibility down the road, but there are no plans to do so. Thanks for asking!

Since you are a writer of mysteries, does that mean that you enjoy reading mysteries as well? What is your favorite mystery of all time?

I read pretty broadly, but definitely enjoy a good mystery. My favorite mysteries tend to be ones where the main character is fascinating and maybe there is some comedy mixed in with the clues. I definitely am a big Sherlock Holmes fan, but I’d have to say my favorite mystery author (note how I’m resisting being pinned down to any one book!) is probably Kinky Friedman. He’s hilarious and weird and was a country singer who ran for governor of Texas. He lost, but his books are good. (They are adult mysteries – not for kids!) My favorite recent teen mystery (probably more of a thriller) is YOU by Charles Benoit.

Since we are celebrating Teen Read Week and you are a librarian, what do you most often recommend to teens looking for a good book? (besides your own, of course!)

Well, just like your site does, librarians try to match the right book to the right reader. There are plenty of books I’d describe as wonderful which just are not going to resonate with some teen readers. So I try to step back and not push my own favorites, but rather listen and ask lots of questions. Typically if I’m working with a teen looking for a book, I ask “What do you like?” not “what do you like to read?” Some kids insist they don’t like reading but I always maintain it’s just that they haven’t found the right books yet and it’s important to match a book to their interests. I really can’t think of the “most often recommended” book because every kid is so different. Man, I keep ducking these questions!

What books were particularly influential or important to you as a teen?

Oddly enough I hardly read any “teen literature” when I was a teen. I went straight from what are generally considered children’s books (mainly fantasy novels like Narnia or anything having to do with baseball) to adult novels. I had a cool English teacher in high school who had us read a Kurt Vonnegut short story and from there I obsessively read all of Vonnegut’s books. His books were definitely the most important books of the teen years for me. Also, in senior year I read On the Road and became obsessed with Jack Kerouac. This led to some pretty disastrous road trips, but I regret nothing.

Tell us a little bit about your new book, Guy Langman: Crime Scene Procrastinator, and was it a very different writing experience than Dark Days?

Guy Langman: Crime Scene Procrastinator is the story of a kid named Guy who joins his high school’s forensics club to meet a girl he’s crushing on. While there he learns a lot of crime-solving techniques, which he then uses to solve some mysteries in his own life. He uncovers some family secrets and later finds a real dead body on a fake crime scene. That part is based on a true story! There really was a high school forensics group investigating a fake crime scene created by their teacher when they found a dead body. It was too weird of a news story not to write about!

That’s one way the writing experience was rather different – it started with this news story and plot idea, whereas Dark Days was very character-driven. But eventually Guy became just as real and dear to me as Will and I hope readers like him too!

Thank you so much for participating in our interview series Josh! We look forward to reading Guy Langman in 2012! For more information about Josh, be sure to visit his website. And come here again tomorrow to hear from Kiersten White, author of  the Paranormalcy series! And if you’ve missed any of our Teen Read Week interviews, they’ll all be here by the end of the week.

It’s Teen Read Week–meet Sarah Mlynowski!

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

To celebrate the Young Adult Library Services Association’s Teen Read Week, StorySnoops is hosting a series of interviews with YA lit authors and enthusiasts.  Started in 1998, Teen Read Week is YALSA’s annual event encouraging teens to read just for the fun of it.  We hope you enjoy this series as much as we enjoyed putting it together!

Today we are honored to interview author Sarah Mlynowski. Sarah is the author of Gimme a Call, Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have) and the bestselling Magic in Manhattan series, which kicked off with Bras & Broomsticks. She is also the co-author of How to Be Bad and has written several novels for adults. She currently lives in New York City.

Welcome Sarah! All of our daughters are huge fans of yours – they especially love the Magic in Manhattan series, which features teenage witch sisters Miri and Rachel. What about this series do you think struck such a chord with tween and teen girls?

I am SO happy to hear they like my books! Yay! I think girls relate to Rachel’s way of looking at the world. And who hasn’t wished she could cast a dance spell or two?

One of our daughters wants to know who you are most like – Miri or Rachel?

Rachel, definitely. Before writing Bras & Broomsticks I read through all of my high school diaries and a lot of my high school self seeped in. Especially the sarcastic, self-absorbed, hyper-active part. I do have one thing in common with Miri. We both bite our nails…unfortunately.

In Gimme a Call, after dropping her cell phone in a fountain, the only person 17-year old Devi can call is her 14-year old self. How did you come up with such a thought-provoking and discussion-worthy concept?

Well, one day I dropped my cell phone into a fountain while making a wish and then… kidding. I wish.

I’m the type of person who is always worrying about the future. I wondered what it would be like to talk to my future self and what she’d say about how I’m living my life.

You are an author that really connects with your teen girl audience. What authors strongly impacted you as a teen?

Thank you! When I was a teen I loved everything by Judy Blume.  Her books made me realize how meaningful–and how much fun–writing about being a girl could be. I loved Christopher Pike’s thrillers–they kept me up all night. Oh, and I loved Gordon Korman. His books are hilarious and his is plotting is genius. And he actually came to talk to my class when I was in the third grade. (He was a teenager at the time—he wrote his first book when he was twelve!)

Which has been your favorite character you have created?

Devi from Gimme a Call. It was challenging—and fun—to create a character at two different points in her life (fourteen and seventeen) simultaneously.

What has been the most rewarding thing a reader has ever said to you?

Every e-mail I get feels like a reward. But I do especially love hearing from reluctant readers who enjoy my books.

Lastly, what can we expect from you next? And can you please write faster?? : )

I’ll try! I have a toddler running around my apartment so I’m a little slower than I used to be. But  Fairest of All, the first book in my new series “Whatever After” will be out this May. It’s about a girl who falls into fairy tales and changes them. It’s for eight-to-eleven year olds.

Thank you so much, Sarah, for participating in our Teen Read Week interview series!

My pleasure! Thank you for having me on your site.

If you’d like to keep up with Sarah and her work, visit her website. Check back with StorySnoops tomorrow to hear from Josh Berk, author of The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin.  And if you miss any of our Teen Read Week author interviews, you can catch them them all here at the end of the week.

Getting ready for Teen Read Week!

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

We are excited to host our second annual interview series celebrating the Young Adult Library Service Association’s Teen Read Week.  Started in 1998, Teen Read Week is YALSA’s annual event encouraging teens to read for the fun of it and to visit their libraries for free reading materials.

This year, our Teen Read Week interviewees include authors: Sarah Mlynowski, Ally Condie, Josh Berk, and Kiersten White. We thought it would be fun to kick of this event by sharing one of this year’s nominated books, Clockwork Angel, written by one of our interviewees from last year, Cassandra Clare.

Clockwork Angel is the first installment in a new series that is the prequel to the popular Mortal Instruments series.  The year is 1878 and sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray has just crossed the ocean to be reunited with her only living relative. But when she arrives at the wharf in London, her brother Nathaniel is nowhere to be found. Instead, Tessa is greeted by the Dark Sisters, who trick her into going to their home where she is imprisoned and trained to use a supernatural power she never knew she had.

When Tessa is rescued by the Shadowhunters — a special race sworn to protect humans from demons and other dangerous supernatural creatures — she is drawn into a life filled with magic, warlocks, vampires, and other Downworld creatures. Still adjusting to the fact that she belongs in this world, Tessa enlists the Shadowhunters help to find her missing brother. In the process, they discover that the mysterious Magister is behind a diabolical plot to destroy the Shadowhunters and marry Tessa in order to harness her unusual power.

Like the Mortal Instruments series, this supernatural fantasy is filled with action, suspense, and a few surprising twists. It’s heroine, Tessa, is a strong female character who is courageous and tremendously loyal to her brother, even after she learns that he betrayed her.  Not surprising for Victorian London, she is a bit hung up on traditional gender roles. Romance lovers will enjoy Tessa’s evolving relationship with bad-boy Shadowhunter Will. The story ends with many questions unanswered, leaving fans eager for the next installment in the series, Clockwork Prince, scheduled to be released in December.

-Jen, StorySnoop

Super Scoop–Divergent by Veronica Roth

Monday, October 10th, 2011

As the unofficial hoarder of dystopian fiction (don’t tell my fellow Snoops!), I am excited to share Divergent, by Veronica Roth, the first installment in a new series set in a future Chicago.  For those of you who are in withdrawal from The Hunger Games, this book may be just what the doctor ordered.

Beatrice Prior is just days away from the most important day of her life; one that will decide her future. That’s because the society in which she lives has been divided into factions in order to extinguish undesirable human traits that lead to a world at war. Beatrice, along with all other sixteen-year-olds, must choose which faction she will align herself with for the rest of her life. The choice is between five factions, each guided by one virtue: Amity (who value peace), Erudite (who value intelligence), Candor (who value truth), Abnegation (who value selflessness), and Dauntless (who value courage). Beatrice is torn between loyalty to her family and being true to her herself.

After making her choice, Beatrice faces an initiation process in which twenty initiates compete for ten spots based on their performance of certain tasks. If she is not ranked in the top ten, Beatrice will live factionless, and in complete isolation. Now calling herself Tris, she faces ruthless opponents and her greatest fears, while guarding a secret that, if revealed, could destroy her. At the same time she is inexplicably drawn to one of her trainers and struggles to let him in when she has spent all of her life keeping people out. When she uncovers a plot that threatens the foundation of society, Tris realizes that revealing her secret may be the only way to save the people she loves.

Divergent is a gripping read that offers just the right balance of a strong female character, compelling plot, action, and romance. Readers will be engaged by Tris’ transformation externally and, more importantly, in how she views herself and what she is capable of.  The story’s premise also provide interesting discussion material, such as the relative merits of a society that attempts to control its people by fostering certain virtues over all others, and whether it’s even possible or preferable to live one’s life according to only one of these virtues.

Despite the dystopian setting, Tris’ struggle is an age-old one that teen readers will relate to, as she is torn between being herself and being what she thinks her family wants her to be. While angry with herself for giving up on her family’s value of selflessness, ultimately Tris learns that she cannot truly be courageous without also being selfless. In the end, her family accepts her choices, even though they are not the same as their own. Although her chosen faction’s leaders seem to be moving the group in a dangerous direction, Tris values the faction’s original beliefs–honor and bravery–and demonstrates these traits with fierce determination.

While there is currently no release date for the next installment in the series, I for one will be on the lookout.  Happy reading!

-Jen, StorySnoop

Super Scoop – You Don’t Know About Me by Brian Meehl

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

I am dusting off my high school copy of The Advenures of Huckleberry Finn, all because of you Brian Meehl. I just finished reading his book, You Don’t Know About Me, and all I can say is, WOW!

Let me explain the Huck Finn connection. Main character Billy has been raised by his religious zealot of a mother, and has moved 16 times in his 15 years. Billy’s mother always told him that his father died in an auto accident before Billy was born. Billy receives a package in the mail, containing a bible with a hidden dvd and letter – a message from his father. Now, his father is an expert on Twain, and a professional collector and trader of all things Twain – a Twainiac if you will. He sends Billy on a geocaching treasure hunt, leaving him chapters of Huck Finn and clues to guide him to the next location. (Geocaching is an outdoor sporting activity in which participants use a GPS to hide and seek containers, called “geocaches,” anywhere in the world.)

Interestingly enough, Billy meets up with and begins traveling with a young African American man, actually a runaway Major League Baseball star, and the two have many deep discussions and crazy adventures together. The parallels between this story and Huck Finn are many, and I found myself wanting to grab my copy and give it a re-read.

You Don’t Know About Me is absolutely fascinating, thought-provoking, and extremely discussion worthy. It is fun and zany while at the same time being deep, multi-layered and meaningful. Racism, Christianity and homosexuality are all key elements to this rich story, and characters are eccentric and memorable. I was sorry when it ended, as I enjoyed it so much, but now that I am done, I am going to spend a little time with Huck Finn : )