Sunday, April 22, 2012

Also known as Rowan Pohi by Ralph Fletcher

Bobby Steele is an impulsive person, someone who doesn't really think things through very well- which is not always a bad thing.  His latest impulsive project, inventing a kid with his best friends Marcus and Big Poobs and seeing if they can get him into the elite Whitestone school.  It seems like a harmless prank until they get the letter back saying that Whitestone would like their new kid, Rowan Pohi, as a student.  It's a big laugh for Marcus and Big Poobs, but as the time for school starting gets closer and closer it becomes less of a joke to Bobby, and more of a chance to get away from being that Bobby Steele, the son of the man who shares his name and ended up in jail for what he did to his wife.

Home is tense, his little brother Cody walks around with a feather in his hair claiming to be an Indian, and his dad is distant.  Taking on the guise of Rowan Pohi allows Bobby to enter a whole new world, a place where he has access to small classes, the best equipment, a football team - and most of all a chance at a future.  But he is also walking a tight rope, trying to keep the lie from spiralling out of control, trying to keep his balance when someone threatens to blow the whistle.  Whitestone is a real chance, but only if he can keep his act together.

Also known as Rowan Pohi is a thought provoking novel, and although it is short and relatively light, it raises some very interesting ideas about what it would be like to be that kid, the one with the infamous father who has your name, a name you can never escape.  The reactions of some people are subtle, but you can see that Bobby (junior) shares some of the shame of Bobby (senior) just because they share the same name.  It also makes me wonder what I would do in the same position, what chances would I have taken at the same age to make a difference in my own life. 

To say too much about the story has the potential to impact on the enjoyment of other readers, so I will just say that Ralph Fletcher has handled this story well, not only in terms of writing a good plot, but also in terms of handling such a difficult topic so well.  It doesn't feel like there could be a sequel to this book, but hopefully Fletcher will write more thought provoking novels as he has the potential to be another Chris Crutcher, another person who tackles difficult topics for teen readers.

If you like this book then try:
  • Whale talk by Chris Crutcher
  • Staying fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • The future of us by Jay Asher
  • Thirteen reasons why by Jay Asher
  • Hate list by Jennifer Brown
  • Street dreams by Tama Wise
  • Stuck in neutral by Terry Trueman
  • Cut by Patricia McCormick

Reviewed by Brilla

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