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Friday, February 11, 2011

Scrawl by Mark Shulman

Thursday, Feb 4th

Searched all over for the book, Scrawl. I know I checked it out from the library. I finally found it hiding with my fifteen-year old in a back closet where she hoped I wouldn’t disturb her. Too bad. I had five minutes to make it through the first few pages.

Friday, Feb 5th

I can’t believe I had to track the book down again. Wait. I can believe it. What am I saying? The voice of this character, Tod, pulled me in, too. I think I’ll have to hide it from the fifteen year old until I’m done first. I’m convinced this Tod character is a good kid even if he is in detention for bullying. I appreciate his guidance counselor, too. I want to hear from Tod, and I’m glad she keeps out of his journal for the most part. Except it was cool when she told him to keep the swear words out; not that “hell” is the worst swear word out there. But Tod seems a little too talented a writer for a bully.

Monday, Feb. 8th

OK. Tod’s a straight-A student, and now that I’m seeing some of his home life, I get why he’s both bright and a bully. I like his voice. I want his story to end well. I can already see that, unlike some books that like to be edgy and drag you through the degradation of the worst of high school, this guy tells a realistic story without the descent into the gutter. Tod is a likeable guy, and I find myself rooting him on.

Tuesday, Feb 9th

Tod’s got a friend with the proverbial chip on the shoulder. He and Tod run into a couple of Protestant Fundamentalists trying to proselytize them in a run-down neighborhood. Tod handles it with aplomb, but his friend reacts in a ridiculously hostile way. He’s furious that they dare to evangelize outside their church, and then screams some Bible verse out-of-context that sends them scurrying off. Maybe the author wanted to illustrate the ugly hypocrisy of a formerly-Christian society (ours) that has lost touch with its love of freedom of speech and religion and has so lost its intellectual roots, it resorts to out-of-context Biblical quotes as some kind of argument. It’s a little off-topic for the book, except that Tod is much more intelligent than his friends and maybe he eventually outgrows them, and maybe this is an appropriate foreshadowing…

Wed. Feb 10th

The book is back on track and I am enjoying Tod’s detention via his writings. I think he likes it, too. He has an outlet for his vivid voice. I hope his friend, Bernie, stays loyal and that the clothes for the play work out. Can you imagine being a teen bully who feels obligated enough to go searching for clothes to outfit the actors/actresses of your school play for the girl you find intriguing? Even if you have to dig through dumpsters? You go, Tod.

Thurs. Feb 11th

Unlike Tod, I won’t be revealing the details of his life because this is one you really need to read for yourself: right up to the end that comes full circle: on a believable note with a rough guy who stands a good chance of becoming more than a bully.

(Hat-tip to Nancy for the book-rec.)

For discussion: see comments on Feb. 9 and be aware that Mark's mom is divorced/remarried.

Safety Rating: 2.5 Flags


Mark March 15, 2011 at 8:34 AM  

Dear blogwriter,

Is blogwriter a word? May I use it in Scrabble? I don't know that. But I do know that your review of Scrawl has some exceptional insights, and is very well written. I say this because I wrote Scrawl, and your site showed up on a Google trawl. Thank you for this, and if there are any questions I can answer, or further thoughts you'd like to share, I'm only too happy to reply. Thank you again. Mark Shulman

Tween Lit Crit March 15, 2011 at 2:19 PM  

Blogwriter... definitely a word, though maybe not Scrabble-worthy yet.
Assuming you're THE Mark Shulman (and you comment like a writer), the thanks goes to you. We parents of avid readers are delighted to have high-quality books. The burning question is: when is the next one? :)

Mark Shulman March 17, 2011 at 5:46 PM  

Hi, blogwriter. It would be my greatest honor to have someone pretending to be me. So no, it is the one and only Mark Shulman. Well, not the only one, there's the president of Brooks Brothers and the guitarist for Suzanne Vega and the law professor who writes naval histories, and let's not forget the drummer for Cher and Pink... but I digress. The answer to your burning question is: I'm in the next novel now, and I have no idea when it will be done, since (to be honest) I have no idea when or how it ends. When I know, I'll stop! Meanwhile, I'm writing a book for National Geographic called "Are You Normal" which promises to show everyone that no-one is normal.

Again, thank you for a terrific review. I look forward to following your blog.

-Mark "Mark" Shulman

Tween Lit Crit March 17, 2011 at 6:15 PM  

You've delighted 2 tween and 1 adult fan, so thanks for checking in.
I already knew I wasn't normal, but we're going to enjoy your National Geographic debut anyway.
We'll also check into your website to find out when the Muses next strike; we have to. You've made fans with friends of ours who count on us to keep them updated.
BTW... Nancy found you for me... if you're interested:

Happy St. Paddy's Day.

Nancy Piccione April 20, 2011 at 6:18 PM  

Just coming across this here, a bit belatedly! Mark, I loved your book and look forward to the next one. Keep us posted. Glad you liked it too, Tween Lit Crit; I've discovered so many great books for our family through your blog, and am glad to return the favor.

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