Monday, June 23, 2008

Quaking by Kathryn Erskine

I recommend this book for: grade 8+

Matt was abused as a child, and has been shuffled from relative to relative for years. Every time, her attitude and emotional damage have been enough to make them send her on. She's now on her last chance, a Quaker couple who have already adopted a mentally retarded five year old boy. Sam and Jessica are kind and peace-loving - in fact, Sam is in charge of weekly peace demonstrations in their community. This puts him in danger, as a series of attacks have been hitting churches, the mosque, and other organizations that do not support the war in Iraq. Matt takes flak at school from a bully she calls the Rat and the civics teacher she dubs "Mr. Warhead" because of his propaganda-filled lessons, simply because they don't think she is 'patriotic' enough. They're completely ridiculous, and unfortunately, that makes them more believable these days.

Despite her normal M.O. of not getting attached to anyone, Matt finds herself beginning to care about her new family and what happens to them, and tempted to join the peace club at school to make a stand against the violence and repression she sees. Definitely a thought provoking book, although it had a few problems. The one thing that really annoyed me was the fact that Matt never used contractions - it was definitely a bold choice for her character, but many times it made her sound like a sarcastic, emotionally damaged robot. Despite that, her voice was interesting and her growth was wonderful to watch. The best part of the book was the developing relationship between Matt, Sam and Jessica, and the little boy they adopted.


* The parental stuff: There is a lot of violence in the community, as well as in Matt's past, which gets described in flashbacks. She frequently talks about God - sometimes reverently, and many times not. She often observes the group of bullies drinking and smoking.*

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