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Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Al Capone Does My Shirts"

YR, by Gennifer Choldenko, 2004, 228p, rating=2

"When Moose's family moves to Alcatraz Island so his father can work as a guard and his sister can attend a special school in San Francisco, he has to leave his friends and his winning baseball team behind.  But it's worth it, right?  If his sister, Natalie, can get help, maybe his family will finally be normal.  But on Alcatraz his dad is so busy, he's never around.  His mom's preoccupation with Natalie's condition (today, it would be called autism) is even worse now that there's a no extended family to help with her tantrums and constant needs.  And of course, there's never enough money.  When Moose meets Piper, the cute daughter of the warden, he knows right off she's trouble.  But she's also strangely irresistible.  All Moose wants to do is protect Natalie, live up to his parents' expectations and stay out of trouble.  But on Alcatraz, trouble is never very far away. (book's synopsis)
I don't agree with the enthusiasm for this book.  A Newbery Honor, really?  At least it didn't win. 

I wanted to like this book.  A story about families living on Alcatraz where the worst of the worst convicts reside was alluring.  But this book just didn't cut it.  The characters developments were horrid.  Moose was wishy-washy, Piper incredibly reckless, and the adults were idiots.  The only character that the author got right was Natalie.  Plus, the whole 'let's see how close we can monopolize Al Capone' story line was weak in aligning with the characters. This is where I wish I was articulate because I want to spell out how the characters broke this book for me and therefore how silly the story became.  ~Anyone out there that has read this book and see what I see and can help effectively describe the bazaarness?  Oh well, maybe it's just me.

1 comment:

  1. I also wanted to like this book, and I also wasn't thrilled with it. For me, it was mostly just depressing. The characters depressed me. There was something just very lacking in hope--the boy's parents never listened to him. I don't know. I guess that, given the title and premise, I was expecting something more lighthearted. It was not what I was expecting out of a Newbery book.


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