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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Anteater-Boy by Dean Ammerman

Hi guys!
Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers…the place to be when the holidays have surrounded you with friends, family, food…and of course, great reads!  Why?  Because…we’ll help you whittle down the list from “oh-my-gosh-which-do-I-choose” to “totally-manageable”…even if we do add another title or two along the way ^_^.

Today’s book is one of several recent reads that falls into the Young Adult category, starring a male lead character.  Yep.  I’ve had a rash of them recently; strange when a lot of this groups voices tend to be female but AWESOME for expanding that list of titles you have at the ready for male readers (not that girls can’t read them…case in point…but guys tend to have a harder time sometimes finding books they relate more fully, you know?).  Anywho…the one I am featuring today had me in a quandary for quite a while.  How so?  Well, I could NOT for the life of me figure out what the title had to do with the book, and even after Aurora’s quick explanation in the opening chapters, I had to keep reminding myself when I’d stumble upon this random ponder once again.  For me, it was a bit of a stumbling block but my fair readers don’t let it be yours because the read is certainly worth the fall.  Today’s book of choice is…

Dean Ammerman

About the book
The school year is coming to an end and high school freshman Zak Dale wants a summer job to earn some money. His fish-eyed science teacher, Dr. Cyrus B. Fletcher, has a job opening but wants Zak to clean the science classroom, improve his grades, and deliver an award-winning speech to get it.
 As Zak tries to prove he’s the best person for the summer job, he helps his best friend Miles search for the holy grail of junk food, falls in love with the beautiful and mysterious Mia Holmes, locates his missing grandmother, neglects his bladder-challenged dachshund, and takes a journey through the American Revolution with Darius Brown, his substitute history teacher.

Basically it’s a story about those perceived to be at the low end of the totem pole we call “high school” and how fabulous it can be to consider that the only direction to go is UP.

Zak (with no C) is a curious lad though you’d probably pass him by in your random hallway trudge.  He’s not a stand out drawing attention to himself.  He’s not a jock scoring the winning touchdown, goal, point or what have you in any team sport.  He’s not even the top honors winning student in his classes.  He’s just…him; an average “Joe” looking to make the best of his teenage years with a few close friends, possibly the girl of his dreams, and a killer summer job if he plays his cards right (or is Mr. Fletcher isn’t just using him, which I’m pretty sure he is…).  One, maybe two outta three ain’t bad, right?  Though down in the mouth about his own abilities, I admired Zak for his never-give-up attitude and the gumption to take a stand for the injustices that he sees…even if asking for a little help or considering the consequences of his actions never really crosses his mind.  He has a heart of gold and ideals to match making him a great friend, a great PERSON indeed.  Now on to our next mark maker…Mr. Darius Brown…

Ha!  I bet you thought I was going to mention his friend Miles who creates a science project presentation that blows the lid off the junk food industry (even if its deployment does turn stomachs a bit) or Aurora who’s acidic quips could melt the paint off a Volkswagon (sorry girl but really…lose the tude!), but no…I’m going with Mr. Darius Brown.  Who is he?  The short answer…their substitute History teacher; long answer…someone who in a very short time makes a BIG impression on these young minds.  How so?  He makes them THINK.  He CHALLENGES them to consider things bigger than themselves and reconsider those things that have been spoon fed to them.  Do I agree with EVERYTHING he taught?  No…as Mrs. Lincoln wasn’t really “trival” when all is said and done, at least in my book…but guess what?  Did you ever expect a YA Lit book to make you think about things like that?  Betcha didn’t…and neither did I…and that’s my point exactly. 

It takes a teacher like this to draw the thinkers out of a class, the ones that may not have considered themselves in that category ever before in their lives.  Taking things OUTSIDE the box can reveal a myriad of connections that weren’t easily seen before making it easier for those that were previously struggling to create that chain of recognition and understanding.  It opens a whole new world of discussions to be had, points to ruminate on and injustices to right…and whether your world is freshman year of high school or the wide wide spaces of the free realm, there’s much to be learned and much more to conquer.

In conclusion, you’ll laugh, shake your head in disbelief, marvel at the surprise turn of events and root for several characters as their cool factor rockets up the charts.  In other words, this book will take you places familiar and make you consider things you’ve never dreamed all whilst providing you with personable characters, realistic situations and edible gray matter…which I definitely DON’T recommend eating (~eww, but definitely creative~).  It reminds us that throughout the course of our lives we’re going to go through a lot of changes physically, mentally and emotionally…and the growing doesn’t end with our school years.  It’s a continual process, something that we should be thankful for because it allows us to be the best “us” we can be; to rise above the herd so to speak.  If we get it wrong the first time, there may be harm done, it’s true but we are extended a second chance to make things right with the dawning of a new day, the turning of the hour, even the ticking of the seconds hand on the wall clock of your mind.  The important thing is to learn from our mistakes, to not allow history to repeat itself and to surround ourselves with those we can count on. 

Review copy received courtesy of author Dean Ammerman.  (THANKS!)  For more information on this title, feel free to visit the book website, like it on Facebook or check it out over on GoodReads.  To pick up a copy for yourself, seek thee out a local bookstore or online retail outlet of your choice…a few to get you started:  Amazon, Barnes & Noble.  Recommended read for young adult readers and beyond.  Oh and we have it on the author’s word that no anteaters were harmed in the writing of this book…whew! (^_^)

Until next time…happy reading!


Alexia561 said...

Enjoyed your review! You're right, there aren't that many male lead characters in YA books. Zak sounds like a great guy! And I love the idea of a great teacher who makes his students think! Although I am curious about the title... :)

Michelle said...

Great review! I have a girlfriend who teaches 6th graders and is always looking for YA books for the advanced readers. A male lead and a book that might help students look favorably on their teachers sounds like something I definitely need to bring to her attention. Thanks!

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