May 14, 2012

Take Me There by Carolee Dean

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:47 am by suebe2

Take Me There
by Carolee Dean
Simon Pulse
AR 4.8

Just a few weeks short of his eighteenth birthday, Dylan already has a criminal past.  He knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that his life is heading no where good.  Even when he tries to go legit, trouble seeks him out.

This particular Trouble is named Eight Ball.  He’s the head of a gang, and not just any gang.  This gang runs the chop shop that stole a car involved in a homicide.  Dylan was working in the shop when the cops arrived.

But Dylan has good reason to go legit.  He’s met an amazing girl, Jess.  Jess has the voice of an angel and, unlike his teachers or his uncle, she can see the good in Dylan.  Like his reading tutor, she believes in him.

Not surprisingly, Dylan has a reading tutor because (drumroll) . . . he can’t read.  Sure, he can pick out words but by the time he finishes piecing together a passage, the meaning is lost.

He realizes that he’ll never get his GED without this skill but there’s more. Waves of words roll through Dylan’s soul.  In his heart, he’s a poet and he struggles to get his words down, especially when he’s inspired by Jess.

I don’t want to say much more about the plot of this book, because I don’t want to give anything away.  And there is so much to give away.

Dean has created a story that is wonderfully complicated (so many things feed into Dylan’s troubles) but also astonishingly simple.  At the heart of it all is his inability to read.  Without this skill, his options are limited to bad and awful.

Fittingly, this book has a low AR level, perfectly suited to potential teen readers who don’t read at grade level.  But the content is pure YA.  Dylan’s life has been difficult and it doesn’t get any easier in this course of this book.  There is alcohol, violence (not graphic but on camera) and sex (off camera).

This a story about hope, sacrifice and fighting for justice.

It is definitely a book that teens should read but it is also a book that those who work with teens, especially teen boys in trouble, should read.  Dean has a lot to say about the connections between illiteracy and prison.

That said, it was a hard book to read.  Normally, I can finish a book of this length in two or three days.  This one took me five.  I wanted a fairy tale ending and Dean doesn’t pull any punches.

Teens will love her for her honesty.  Adults?  Some will.  Others, not so much.

That in itself says worlds about this book.  YA all the way.



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