As part of our Blogger of the Month feature, we ask the featured blogger to
post a review during their month.
Our blogger this month is Ciara from Lost at Midnight Reviews.
Title: Paper Covers Rock
Author: Jenny Hubbard
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: June 14th, 2011
Source: Won (from author Daisy Whitney)
My Rating: 4/5
(Novel Summary from Goodreads)
At the beginning of his junior year at a boys' boarding school, 16-year-old Alex is devastated when he fails to save a drowning friend. When questioned, Alex and his friend Glenn, who was also at the river, begin weaving their web of lies. Plagued by guilt, Alex takes refuge in the library, telling his tale in a journal he hides behind Moby-Dick. Caught in the web with Alex and Glenn is their English teacher, Miss Dovecott, fresh out of Princeton, who suspects there's more to what happened at the river when she perceives guilt in Alex's writing for class. She also sees poetic talent in Alex, which she encourages. As Alex responds to her attention, he discovers his true voice, one that goes against the boarding school bravado that Glenn embraces. When Glenn becomes convinced that Miss Dovecott is out to get them, Alex must choose between them.
I wasn't really sure what to expect when I received a copy of Paper Covers Rock from author Daisy Whitney last year. I hadn't heard anything about it, not a single peep in the book world, and was curious to see if this was a gem everyone was overlooking. Well, I can tell you one thing about this book, its subtly stunning.
I will admit, it took me a couple tries to get into Paper Covers Rock. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy it, but I couldn't seem to commit to reading it either. The writing style, both how it was written and the format in which it was written, was much different and, at times, confusing which had me both intrigued and frazzled. The story, which takes place at a boarding school during the 1980s, follows sixteen-year-old Alex as he copes with the death of his best friend Thomas, and the secret he is told to keep hidden about the accident. It meshes the honor code and the truth through one broken boy's perspective. The novel is done in different sections, and doesn't always follow a linear timeline. It's written as a diary and, in true format of a diary, bounces back and forth and expresses more emotion than story. I felt caught up in Alex's confused and distressed feelings and the sort of numbness that comes with a great loss. Alex sometimes reminded me of Holden Caulfield (although when Alex mentally makes that comparison he expresses his great distaste of the famous character). He is a lost, young boy, pushed and prodded into a box he feels he can't escape. He's unhappy with the world he sees, and finds solace in poetry. And in his feelings towards his English teacher, Miss Dovecott. The story unfolds slowly, and I found myself really wondering what had truly happened that day at the rock. And when the entire events are laid out, I felt almost confused. Until one single line changed my perspective on the novel.
When I said early that this novel is subtly stunning, I meant it. This book isn't outright. It doesn't lay out the truth, but leaves it muddled and woven deeply within the diary pages. To be entirely honest, I'm not even sure if I'm interpreting it right. It was a novel that left much up to the readers discretion and perception of what Alex was talking about. What I felt the driving force underneath the novel was the element of homophobia. It wasn't said, but implied throughout the novel, leaving the reader to piece together its relevance and importance.
Paper Covers Rock was definitely a great novel, even if it was a bit hard to get into. Although it's set in the past, it's themes and story are very relevant for present day. If you're looking for a new and interesting contemporary novel, I would look towards Paper Covers Rock.
- Ciara who is lost at midnight