Monday, October 1, 2012

Pinned

I am greedy for books by Sharon G. Flake. The Skin I'm In is one of the books I recommend most, and also one of the books that most regularly "disappears" from my collection. I consider this the highest compliment to an author--that a book speaks so much to a reader that they need to keep it forever. I need to set aside some of my budget for purchasing extra copies of Pinned because I know my students will want to read this one again and again.

Autumn and Adonis both have admirable strengths: she is the only female wrestler on the school's team and on her way to being the best in the state, he is brilliant and destined for success. Unfortunately, they are also both held back by something which haunts them. Autumn's reading difficulties have followed her through life and now threaten her wrestling career. Adonis, born without legs, keeps his distance from his classmates as he tries to forget how they exposed his helpless side. Lucky for both of them, Autumn is in love with Adonis and could be persistent enough to move both of them forward together.

Autumn is an incredible character, full of complexities and realistic details. Flake takes care to note that even though she has academic shortcomings, Autumn will have success in the future, particularly as a baker and businesswoman. It is a gift to the reader to see Adonis through Autumn's eyes: "I wonder about his brain more than about his legs: how a boy can be so smart, holding things in his head the way sugar holds sweet, making people think they know him when they don't...I want my kids to be born that way. Smarter than everyone else." Although Flake is careful to explain the vulnerability behind his attitude, Adonis can be off-putting and Autumn's adoration goes a long way to temper that.

Flake shines when writing in the voice of African-American adolescents and teachers. She captures the nuances of speech and the heart behind her characters' actions, and makes me want to read her work over and over again. Buy several copies for your library, you'll need them.

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