Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar (Dutton, 2005). An insider’s look at Scott’s freshman year of high school as he tries to win a girl, finds another, stumbles into sports reporting, is unfortunately successful at politics, joins a theater crew, loses and gains friends, dodges bullies, seeks inspiration in English class, sometimes stands up for what’s right and sometimes doesn’t, and chronicles the highlights for his still in utero baby brother AKA “you quivering sack of viscous fluids” (p. 44). Ages 12-up. Highest recommendation.
Disclaimer: I’ve never been a freshman, so this was all alien territory to me. My junior high (Hillcrest Junior High in Overland Park, Kansas) went through ninth grade. So for my peers, ninth grade was a time of supreme power. We were almost driving by the time we hit high school. Now, however, the school has changed over to Westridge Middle School, allegedly due to various studies about what’s best for kids that age. I’m not convinced those studies are right.
Author tidbit: Last time I spent time with the genius that is David Lubar, it was at the Signature Room at the 95th during ALA in Chicago.
On The Novel:
I love Lee, fangs and all (I’m sure you’re surprised). The daughter of two blood suckers, only one of whom is a lawyer. Likewise, dig the vampire poem on p. 127.
I disagree with Scott that short stories are harder than novels. To me, it’s more like the difference of running a sprint and running a marathon. Both use most of the same muscles, but the psychology is different.
Characters include an English teacher cool enough to study comics with the class. (By the way, I rec my favorite comic of the week over at spookycyn).
This novel heightened and deepened my interest in language and writing, especially poetry. I was tempted to list all of the books, poems, etc., mentioned with links to more information, but of course, that would totally ruin/oversimplify countless readers’ future homework.
Sleeping Freshman Never Lie is one of the top YAs of the year in a strong year for YAs and sort of like “My So-Called Life” for boys. The novel represents the best of comedy–balanced at times against tragedy, at times against the ridiculousness of daily life, and always fully engaging the heart and mind. It would be an excellent choice for fans of Storky: How I Lost My Nickname and Won the Girl by D.L. Garfinkle (Putnam, 2005). It also deserves mega ALA and especially NCTE attention; what more could English teachers (or teen readers) ask for?
p. 37 (under “Scott Hudson’s Guide To Things That Are Worse Than Gym”)
“5. Getting your head stuck in a bucketful of dead worms that’s been baking in the sun for a week.”
p. 67 “Have you ever noticed that Piglet looks like some sort of larval grub with ears?” (Actually, I find Piglet much cuter, but then again, I’m a girl).
p. 104 (re: running for Student Council) “I could have promised to try to replace gym class with Victoria’s Secret fashion shows.”
p. 123 “If ‘music hath charms to soothe a savage breast,’ then why are there so many hyperactive geeks in the band?”
p. 136 (under “Seven Reasons Why Scott Hudson Shouldn’t Join The Wrestling Team”)
“7. Any activity that produces that much grunting should probably be performed in private.”
p. 214 “Easter is by far the best holiday for chocolate. Halloween is probably second. They have little else in common.”
Cynsational note: surf back tomorrow for an interview with author David Lubar on Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie.
Cynsational News & Links
Thanks to my very cute husband, author Greg Leitich Smith, for adding links to the sidebars of my cynsations and spookycyn blogs. Greg’s latest book, Tofu and T. rex was released in July 2005 along with the paperback of his debut novel, Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo.
Author Tanya Lee Stone wrote me a couple of days ago, asking for a list of my favorite author Web sites. It was a fun question I hadn’t been asked before. These are the authors whose sites I highlighted for her: Laurie Halse Anderson; Heather Vogel Frederick; K.L. Going; Jennifer Holm; Jennifer Richard Jacobson; Patrice Kindl; Graham Salisbury; Nancy Werlin; Janet Wong. Tanya is the author of numerous books, including the upcoming YA hit, A Bad Boy Can Be Good For A Girl (Wendy Lamb Books, 2006).
“Painting with Words” by Erin Brady, in the Writing Schedule Section of Writer’s Support from the Institute of Children’s Literature. See also “No Peril, No Glory, No Sale!” by Jody J. Little, in the Story Conflict Section of Writing Tips and a chat with historical fiction writer Linda Crew from ICL.