Saturday, February 11, 2017

Garvey's Choice

Garvey's Choice. Nikki Grimes. 2016. 120 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: When I was seven/ and crazy for Mr. Spock,/ a Star Trek lunch box/ was all I craved. Instead, Dad/ bought one blaring the logo/ of some football team/ I'd never heard of./ I shoved that thing in/ the coal black of my closet,/ then celebrated with cake.

Premise/plot: Garvey's Choice is a verse novel. (The verse is written in tanka.) Garvey is an overweight teen who'd much rather sing or read than play sports. There exists between father and son a gap that nothing seems to fill. At least at first. Garvey tries--unsuccessfully--to fill this gap with food. Garvey's dad may talk about sports--a lot--but I don't get the impression that he's actually cruel to his son. The two just aren't speaking the same love languages.

My thoughts: In the novel, Garvey makes several choices. Will he choose to try out for chorus and risk rejection or humiliation? He ultimately decides that he has nothing to lose and everything to gain. After all, he's already being teased by his classmates; he's already hating lunch time. What he finds out is that he's really talented at singing; and his singing not only makes him happy in the process, but makes others happy too. That and he makes a second friend. Another choice he makes regards his weight. Will he try to lose weight? Should he try to lose weight? How should he go about it? What can he change in his life to be healthier and happier?

This aspect of the verse novel was a bit iffier for me. I hated to see him get in the cycle of dieting in unhealthy ways, ways that are doomed to fail. I was yelling DON'T DO IT. JUST DON'T. I think the verses are authentic in that many, many, many, many people turn to food as a way to deal with emotions they don't know how to handle any other way. It's not the best way perhaps, but it is the easy way. I liked how singing took the place of food in some ways as a way to cope with the ups and downs of life.

One of the songs mentioned throughout the book is "Dance with My Father." I encourage you to give it a listen if you pick this one up.

One of my favorite poems: "Summer Lost and Found"
Stories are breadcrumbs.
Just follow the trail of books
and you will find me
lost among the galaxies
of scorched stars and ships to Mars. (4)
And here's another: "Alien"
Over breakfast, Dad
eyes me like an alien
never seen before.
Sometimes, I could swear that he's
hoping to make first contact. (17) 

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
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I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
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  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

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