Tag Archive: high school

Carter Finally Gets It45210
By: Brent Crawford
Narrated by: Nick Podehl
Length: 8 hrs and 21 mins
Release date: 04-07-09
Publisher: Brilliance Audio

When a good YA book comes out I like to see what they are about. I got suckered into the “Twilight” series because of this curiosity and you’d think I’d never do it again but with examples like “The Sword of Darrow,” the Harry Potter series, the Lemony Snicket books, and the “Eragon” series I see there’s more good than bad. One bad, no make that horrible shiny vampire series will not stop me.

This book is definitely one of the good ones. It was offered up as a free audiobook for the Summer SYNC YA reading program books, so I jumped on it. That way if it was bad I didn’t lose any money. After listening to this audiobook, I will definitely seek out the rest of the books in by Brent Crawford. Even better thing about this book is that most YA novels (unless they are supernatural based) are typically from a young girl’s point of view. This time we get the point of view of a young man about to start high school. However teen girls should read this as well, it will give them an inside source as to what is going on to their male counterpoint’s brains.

Publisher’s Summary

Meet Will Carter, but feel free to call him Carter. (Yes, he knows it’s a lazy nickname, but he didn’t have much say in the matter.) Here are five things you should know about him:

1. He has a stuttering problem, particularly around boobs and belly buttons.

2. He battles Attention Deficit Disorder every minute of every day…unless he gets distracted.

3. He’s a virgin, mostly because he’s no good at talking to girls (see number 1).

4. He’s about to start high school.

5. He’s totally not ready.

Join Carter for his freshman year, where he’ll search for sex, love, and acceptance anywhere he can find it. In the process, he’ll almost kill a trombone player, face off with his greatest nemesis, suffer a lot of blood loss, narrowly escape death, run from the cops (not once, but twice), get caught up in a messy love triangle, meet his match in the form of a curvy drill teamer, and surprise the hell out of everyone, including himself.

©2009 Brilliance Audio, Inc.; ©2009 Brent Crawford

Poor Carter stutters and has ADD but he is still pretty much the average teen boy. The book does have some somewhat crude teen locker room humor, but really is pretty typical. If you don’t think your teen thinks or has a friend that thinks this way, come out from under that rock once in a while.

In Carter’s case the mixture of raging hormones, not knowing a thing about the opposite sex and throw in his ADD and things just don’t go as planned. This book has several Laugh out Loud moments, and still some of the poignancy of the troubles of growing up. Any teen going into high school NEEDS to read this book.

In the case of the narrator of this audiobook, Nick Podehl, Nick captures the teen voice perfectly and delivers the story right where it needs to be.



“Colin Fischer”
by Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz
Read by Jesse Eisenberg
Published by Penguin Audio
Running time: 4 hrs, 16 mins.

I think that this book had “too big to fail” written all over it, it’s got an Oscar nominated actor reading the audiobook, it is written by two people who were the screenwriters for “Thor” and “X-men: First Class,” a hero with Asperger’s Syndrome and a facial expression guide on the cover of the hard copy version. What could go wrong? Well, absolutely nothing. This book is a big win and once again proves that Young Adult readers always get the best books aimed at their age group.

Penguin Audio listed this book as one of their upcoming releases and the first thing that grabbed me was the authors listed. Being a comic book fan, this got my attention immediately then seeing that this was a an older version of Encyclopedia Brown with some Sherlock Holmes thrown in made it that much more interesting. Then throw in that the main character, Colin Fisher, has Asperger’s Syndrome, I knew it would be not only very interesting but fulfilling and I immediately requested a copy.

Recently the BBC did two seasons of a television series version of Sherlock Holmes, “Sherlock”, which explained that the genius behind the deductive reasoning of the famous detective was due to having Asperger’s Syndrome. Asperger’s Syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. In this book many aspects of Asperger’s syndrome are observed in Colin that are humorous, those are: he has a vicious dislike for the color blue, he cannot stand to be touched, he needs index cards to recognize facial expressions and does not get humor. These all combine in Colin Fisher to create a very quirky genius detective.

It’s Colin’s first day in High School and he feels he’s armed for the worst, with his notebook for jotting down observations, his collection of cards with various facial expressions and his intellect. But that all goes to pot (literally) within the first few minutes when his nemesis, Wayne Connelly dunks Colin’s head in the toilet. So much for High School being different.

Some things have changed however, Colin’s nerdy female friend returns from the summer having had the full effect of puberty hit head on. In other words; she left middle school a nerd, but comes to high school as a hotty. Throughout Colin’s school life she has always been a friend to him. When her friends bring her a cake to school to celebrate her birthday, the school’s peaceful atmosphere is forever shattered when a gun is fired amid a scuffle between boys wanting to get some of the cake.

The gun is found on the cafeteria floor with a smudge of frosting by Colin, to which he simply replies, “Interesting,” while all of the other student’s run out of the cafeteria in fear for their lives. The school officials immediately put the blame on Wayne Connelly, but Colin knows better and sets out to prove his nemesis’ innocence.

Putting the powers of Asperger’s Syndrome to work, Colin is able to find the real owner of the gun and create some humorous situations that can only happen to Colin. One of the fun things about this audiobook is that whenever a situation arises that needs further explanation or just that something reminds Colin of a fact he knows, there are footnotes. In the production of this book all footnotes and Colin’s journal entries are produced with a slight reverb-type effect that gives the listener the feel that this occurs within Colin’s brain. Nice production trick that makes this book very interesting. By the way, there are several footnotes that range from in depth explanations of Asperger’s Syndrome, the doctor for whom the syndrome is named after, various logical thinkers in history and fiction and sharks.

Speaking of the production, Jesse Eisenberg (who starred in “Zombieland” and “The Social Network”) narrates the audiobook and in my opinion has the vocal fortitude and acting talent to bring the character of Colin to life. He is able to deliver parts of the story with the proper emotional level and yet,when portraying Colin, is able to be the non-emotional Asperger’s Syndrome personality that makes Colin tick.

All in all this is an extremely fun book for all ages, to prove that, I had the audiobook playing during one of my family’s out of town shopping adventures, and everyone in the car; my 12 year-old son, my wife and myself were quite and absorbed by the story. This was yet another audiobook which my son would not let me listen to unless he was present. We all had a blast with this story, and from the way the book ended with a hint of ongoing adventures, look forward to many more Colin Fisher stories.

“Does My Head Look Big in This?”
By Randa Abdel-Fattah
Read by Rebecca Macauley
Produced by Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd, 2008
Approx 9 hours

When It comes to life lessons, it seems that the youth have it made, at least in literature aimed at them.  As adults the only ones that seem to offer advice are those who have a slant or an issue to press.  This book, “Does My Head Look Big in This?” offers up a dose of reality when it comes to multi-culturalism.

Anyone who has been through them can tell you, the teen years are not the easiest of times to get through, you’ve got peer pressure, body & hormonal changes and pressure to decide what you are going to do with your life.  Imagine all that and then one day some people that claim your religion as their cause decide to destroy a couple of buildings in New York.  Now the entire world looks at your religion as evil.  Even worse live this as a High School student.  That is just what Randa Abdel-Fattah has offered up in this book, a look from a typical Muslim girls eyes.

Amal Mohamed Abdel-Hakim is a sixteen year-old Australian-Palestinian-Muslim girl living in Melbourne with her mom and dad. Her father Mohamed drives a metallic-red convertible because he’s convinced that he’s still young and cool, he fails to remember that he has a receding hairline, and he blasts Italian opera or ‘Palestinian Folk’ songs from his car stereo system. Her mom’s name is Jamila, which means beautiful in Arabic. She’s loud, fun and energetic, loves to laugh, and is neurotically clean.  Just before starting her 11th year in school she makes the decision to adopt the Muslim custom of wearing the hijab, the head covering traditionally worn by Muslim women, with varying reactions from her family and peers.  This book is about those reactions.

She gets support from one of her Muslim friends, who also wears the hijab, but her mom and dad are worried about what she will have to go through.  With the terrorist attack of 9/11 not quite a year past, the world looks at Muslims with suspicious eyes.  Logically thinking Amal goes by the the premis that a small group of fanatics shouldn’t condemn a whole religion, a very peaceful religion at that.  After all are all Christians hated because of the Ku Klux Klan or the Nazis, they were all Christian based.  Too bad the world as a whole does not think logically.

At first her small group of friends think she is forced to wear the Hijab and feel sorry for her, after she makes it clear it is her choice, some begin to approach her out of curiosity and realize she is the same.  To give a little slice of the world some of her friends include, a Japanese girl, an Aussie girl with body image issues, a Greek Orthodox woman that came to Australia not speaking English and more.

This book not only deals with the typical problems of the teen years but also shows a very eye opening view of a religion that is misunderstood.

The reader, Rebecca Macauley, does a smash up job of reading this book, she does a great job of portraying the various accents and cultures.  Just to give you a hint of what verbal gymnastics she has to go through, she has to portray an Australian Muslim, then also some Pakistani, Orthodox Greek, British Cockney and even American accents.  She does a great job delivering the story and manages to express all the emotions on this roller-coaster of life view.

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