From that time on, the world was hers for the reading....

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Jenny Hubbard: Paper Covers Rock

I saw Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard on the new release shelf at my local library and really liked the title, so I brought it home with me.

Set in 1982 at an all-boys boarding school, the story follows sixteen-year-old Alex and Glenn as they try to cope with the drowning death of their classmate Thomas.

Alex feels guilty, like he could have done more to save Thomas, and keeps all of his thoughts in a private journal hidden in the school's library behind an ignored copy of Moby Dick. It's through his writing, which also includes letters, poetry, and class assignments, that readers learn more about the events that lead up to Thomas's drowning. We also learn that Alex is a very talented writer, something his English teacher Miss Dovecott recognizes, encourages, and nurtures.

This makes Glenn paranoid. He thinks Miss Dovecott knows more about the drowning and the role they played and is using Alex to get more information about what happened and maybe pry a confession out of them. That's when he decides to devise a plan to get her fired.

Alex must choose between his friendship with Glenn, his feelings for Miss Dovecott, and his future as a student, which only adds to his guilt and confusion.

Paper Covers Rock is a powerful look at the many layers of boarding school life, especially honor and loyalty. I thought the use of Alex's journal was a smart storytelling technique, entwining literary quotes, observations of the world around him, and the innermost thoughts of a teenage boy brilliantly.

I enjoyed it and look forward to reading more by Jenny Hubbard.

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