Thursday, April 8, 2010

Review - Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials by Rosalind Wiseman

Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials
Rosalind Wiseman
January 2010
288 pgs. ARC
3 copies

My Thoughts
First off, that cover is really NOT what the book is about.  This book is more about friendships and what it means to stand up for yourself and others.  There was very little romance.  Which is fine.

Charlie moves to a different high school as a way to escape two friends who'd become poison to her.  She figured it would be a good way to start over and be herself while distancing herself from the unpleasantness of her past.  Charlie's new school does offer new opportunities but she also finds she can't outrun herself; Nidhi, the girl she stood by allowed to be bullied, turns up at the new school and so does a boy she grew up with.  Charlie does a good job of moving forward and decides she needs to face herself so she can become a better person.  Wiseman doesn't spend a lot of time on boy-girl relationships as much as she does on Charlie's relationship with a variety of people, which was a welcome change and helped the book stand a little above other teen romance novels. Wiseman instead gives us a glimpse into a boy's life.  The boys suffer through hazing in order to survive and thrive on the soccer team.  Charlie's friend Will is on this team and she makes him promise that if things get out-of-hand he will contact her. Will turns out to have a higher tolerance than Charlie anticipated and she decides to help him anyway.

I stopped short of giving Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials my highest rating due to the way Wiseman described some of the characters in the book.

p20 preppy looking black guy - tall and skinny
p21 brown haired boy with freckles
p28 cutest tannest  brown-haired blue eyed guy
p47 perfectly messy brown hair and black rectangular glasses
p47 other was Asian huge and wearing a panther's jacket (named Gwo)
p72 I'm Raj, said a cute black-haired Indian guy

Is it me or does she only point out the race of the nonwhite characters?  I think an African-American can have "perfectly messy brown hair" or be "cute, [and] black haired".  The descriptions stopped me every time.  I didn't have the opportunity to create pictures in my head nor did I get the sense the descriptions moved beyond the stock, stand-in characters. These characters seemed to be there only to add a "multicultural" bit to the book. 

So, overall, I give the book three copies.  I think the cover will lead students to pick it up even though it gives a false portrayal of content and the book is well worth reading despite it's stereotypical character descriptions.

Rosalind Wiseman talks about Boys, Girls...

ARC provided by Around The World Tours.

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