Title: Paper Covers Rock
Author: Jenny Hubbard
Releases on: June 14
It’s no secret that Young Adult literature is read by adults, and on an increasing level. Paper Covers Rock, I suspect, is a book which will be enjoyed even more by adults than by teens. Any book that inspires readers to pick up Moby-Dick must be, on some level, brilliant.
From the start, Paper Covers Rock, is tragic. It’s the start of Alex’s junior year at an all-boys boarding school when his friend Thomas drowns. Alex and another friend, Glenn, are both present. The drowning appears accidental, though Alex and Glenn make a pact immediately to keep the full truth a secret. Even Alex’s hesitant narration through his journal does not reveal the full truth until the book’s end. As the guilt of their secret weighs Alex down, his new English teacher, Miss Dovecott, notices the makings of a poet in Alex’s writing. Miss Dovecott had appeared immediately after the drowning and Glenn questions whether her attentions may be because she knows more than she has said about the accident. Glenn’s paranoia becomes Alex’s as well, and Glenn forms a plan that forces Alex to choose between his mentor and friend, the lies that they keep and the truth that could destroy them both.
It would be too simple to call Paper Covers Rock brilliant. It is elegant without being overdrawn, complex without being confusing, and absolutely haunting. Alex’s journal, which makes up the book, weaves back and forth between the time before the drowning and the time after. He is not quite an unreliable narrator—he’s simply a reluctant and secretive one. Interspersed with bits of poetry and essays, readers feel Alex’s guilt and sorrow without fully knowing why until the final pages. Secrets abound in his world, some of which Alex is hesitant to admit even to himself. Alex and the other characters are realistic and believable: none are perfect and few are blameless. Without preaching or diverging on tangents, Hubbard poses questions to the reader about honor and truth, loyalty and courage, and what it means to deal with the consequences of your decisions.
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