At the 2006 NCTE conference (remember the one in the Habitrail known as Opryland?), one of the highlights was meeting Jordan Sonnenblick and listening to him read a chapter from ZEN AND THE ART OF FAKING IT. His first two books cemented him as a new writer who could make readers laugh and cry (sometimes seemingly simultaneously) and, more importantly, CARE about the characters whose stories he was telling.
Today, as I was finishing the last chapter of the book, my email pinged to let me know I had new mail. How is this for a coincidence? It was an announcement from my local independent book store that Jordan would be in Houston next week. Cool, huh? But it is the book that deserves some attention on this morning when I am stuck in the subdivision due to a rather large fire at our clubhouse that has blocked the only exit (shades of Homeland Security as now I am thinking that there needs to be an escape route, maybe?). Thank heavens I had Sonnenblick's new book to amuse me.
San Lee is the new kid in school. A bit of a mix up on day one pegs San as a Zen master instead of the new kid whose father is in prison and whose feelings of betrayal are anything but zen-like. However, this auspicious start garners the attention of Woody (aka Emily) and things are already looking up for San. Before long, San is training little wannabes from the basketball team and incurring the wrath of Woody's stepbrother, Peter in the balance. One tiny failure to tell the truth (but not really a flat out lie, right, reasons San?) builds to an incredibly sticky web. How can San tell Woody the truth without ruining the best thing that has happened to him in some time?
Sonnenblick is deft as always in crafting a character, San, who is hapless but well-intentioned, basically a teen that could haunt any school hall anywhere. The chapters, each with wonderful titles, are short making this a terrific read aloud choice. And the bonus is that the adults, especially the teachers and librarians are fully human (and caring and loving) as well.