Simon and Schuster
Since his parents' divorce, John's mother hasn't touched him, her new fiancé wants them to move away, and his father would rather be anywhere than at Friday night dinner with his son. It's no wonder John writes articles like "Interview with the Stepfather" and "Memoirs from Hell." The only release he finds is in homemade zines like the amazing Escape Velocity by Marisol, a self-proclaimed "Puerto Rican Cuban Yankee Lesbian." Haning around the Boston Tower Records for the new issue of Escape Velocity, John meets Marisol and a hard love is born.
2000 Michael L Printz Honor Book
While at first their friendship is based on zines, dysfunctional families, and dreams of escape, soon both John and Marisol begin to shed their protective shells. Unfortunately, John mistakes this growing intimacy for love, and a disastrous date to his junior prom leaves that friendship in ruins. Desperately hoping to fix things, John convinces Marisol to come with him to a zine conference on Cape Cod. On the sandy beaches by the Bluefish Wharf Inn, John realizes just how hard love can be.
With keen insight into teenage life, Ellen Wittlinger delivers a story of adolescence that is fierce and funny — and ultimately transforming — even as it explores the pain of growing up.
First Published 1999
Another new to me author, thanks to my self-appointed task of reading all of the Printz award winning and honored books. Published in 1999, this was an Honor Book in the first round of awards in 2000.
I flat-out LOVED this book. So much so, that as soon as I’m done with the year 2000 Printz books, I’m going to take a short detour to read the companion book, Love and Lies. I’ve had the window open to write this post since yesterday, but I can’t think of anything to say, which is stupid, since I liked it so much. I feel like “gah….it was SOOOO good….” doesn’t really do the trick when I’m trying to use this space to think and write critically.
I suspect that some readers might find the zine culture that informs the book to be dated. I think the experience of the characters is universal enough, that a smart reader ought to be able to get over that pretty quickly. I did find myself wondering, as I read all of these Printz books, about how different they’d be if they’d been written in the age of ubiquitous smartphones and social media.
This book, would probably be about Instagram and blogging (do kids even do that?), and Snapchat, and YouTube, I suppose. Oh wait — I know — TUMBLR.
I think what drew me in to this book was that right away on the first page, the main character said something that sounded like a lot of teenagers I know:
I didn’t bother to remind him that I don’t really go to this school. People think I do, but it’s only my physical body, not me.
That snarky attitude made me want to know more about John, and I ended up caring quite a bit about what happened to him and to his friends. I watched him set himself up for a huge crash, and suffered with him when the inevitable happened. I am glad that the book didn’t end up with a tied-up-in-a-bow happy ending, but it wasn’t a sad end, either. He went on a journey and changed, and that’s what we want from any book, isn’t it?
The title of the book comes from a song of the same name, written by Bob Franke. The lyrics are in the book, and of course I had to try to find it on YouTube.
So I’ll tell you that I love you even though I’m far away
And I’ll tell you how you change me as I live from day to day
How you help me to accept myself and I won’t forget to say
Love is never wasted, even when it’s hard love
Yes, it’s hard love, but it’s love all the same
Not the stuff of fantasy, but more than just a game
And the only kind of miracle that’s worthy of the name
For the love that heals our lives is mostly hard love
Love — and life — are hard. And shouldn’t be wasted.