Sunday 14 March 2021

BOOK REVIEW: Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach and Mateo Finds His Wow by Gabi Garcia

Stupid Fast
Geoff Herbach
Publication Date: 1st June 2011
Genre: YA Coming of Age / Sports Fiction

Book Description:
I, Felton Reinstein, am Stupid Fast. Seriously. The upper classmen used to call me Squirrel Nut, because I was little and jumpy. Then, during sophomore year, I got tall and huge and so fast the gym teachers in their tight shorts fell all over themselves. During summer, three things happened all at once. First, the pee-smelling jocks in my grade got me to work out for football, even though I had no intention of playing. Second, on my paper route the most beautiful girl I have ever seen moved in and played piano at 6 a.m. Third, my mom, who never drinks, had some wine, slept in her car, stopped weeding the garden, then took my TV and put it in her room and decided she wouldn’t get out of bed.

Listen, I have not had much success in my life. But suddenly I’m riding around in a jock’s pick-up truck? Suddenly I’m invited to go on walks with beautiful girls? So, it’s understandable that when my little brother stopped playing piano and began to dress like a pirate I didn’t pay much attention. That I didn’t want to deal with my mom coming apart.

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Felton Reinstein is an unpopular 15-year-old kid with one friend - possibly two if you count Peter Yang, who he's not a big fan of - until one day, he discovers he can run fast. Suddenly, he's the talk of the school and everyone wants his attention. Despite his increasing popularity, however, Felton's home life takes a turn for the worst when his mother's mental health starts to decline, and his younger brother starts to rebel. The focus of all their issues is Felton's father, who committed suicide a decade ago. Felton can't understand why his mother destroyed everything that belonged to his father and refuses to talk about him. He wants answers, and she's not willing to cooperate. Feeling lost and confused, Felton slowly starts to isolate from his family but soon realises that there is only so far one can run from his problems, especially when the problem and the solution might be one and the same.

I've had this book on my shelf for a long time, and I decided it was high time I read it, and I am glad I did. From the get-go, I felt Felton's anxiety, and his character just sucked me in. I don't know how to describe this character other than to say he was a nice blend of Holden from Catcher in the Rye, Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Christopher from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. The narrative voice was very inviting. The action started to feel repetitive halfway through, so the story started to lag in place where it appeared there was no progression. It just seemed like it took forever for the truth about Felton's dad to be revealed that the actions of the characters just felt repetitive and everything just felt stagnant. The story picked up again in the final few chapters and managed to recapture my attention. Many of the secondary characters felt somewhat flat and underdeveloped, but I found Felton to be such an engaging character that the lack of the other characters' presence didn't both me too much.

I don't know if it's because this book was written almost a decade ago but the characters appeared somewhat younger than I imagined. Even when they rebelled it felt controlled and quite restrained. Although it wasn't confirmed, I often found myself wondering if Felton was a person with autism. He often referred to himself as a retard or stupid, which was sad because I think this was more his portrayal of how he viewed himself rather than an objective portrayal. It could just be me, but his speech and mannerism suggested he might have developmental disability, and if that be the case, then this would definitely add more authenticity to his character in the way in which he communicated and interacted with other characters. His chemistry with Aleah Jennings didn't do much for me as she didn't particularly seem significant in terms of him developing as a character. I think Cody had more of an effect on his growth as a person than she did.

The family dynamic and interaction between Felton and his family was key in the development of plot and character and I really wanted to see more in terms of the cause of the breakdown. We experienced a lot of the effect of Jerri's meltdown (Felton's mother, who he calls by her first name) and how it changed Felton's and Andrew's behaviour (Felton's younger brother), but most of the time, they just avoided one another and refused to address the issue so we get to experience the dilemma on the surface instead of delving deeper into the heart of the matter. The frustration felt restrained, and we never really got a climactic moment we were waiting for. There was a lot of shouting and no screaming.

Overall, it was a good read. I enjoyed it, mostly because of Felton, but I still enjoyed it all the same.


Rating: 3 Star
Source: Own copy

Mateo Finds His Wow
Author: Gabi Garcia
Publication Date: 29th April 2019
Genre: Children's Picture Book

Book Description:
It’s easy to get stuck focusing on what’s going wrong. WE ALL DO IT.

It can take time, but there is a way to get unstuck.

Follow along as Mateo discovers that focusing on what’s right in front of him can help turn the page on a grumpy day.

Nurturing wonder and gratitude in your child supports their happiness, well-being and sense of connectedness. And best of all, they can learn to practice it— ON PUPOSE!

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It's Saturday, and it's raining, which means Mateo is stuck inside with nothing to do. Feeling bored, he throws a tantrum until a bird outside catches his attention and sparks an idea that has him forgetting about everything that's wrong about his day and finding joy in the little things around the house, things he often takes for granted.

While reading this book, that famous Ferris Bueller line popped into my head: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." This line summed up this book for me. You start to appreciate the things we all take for granted. Sometimes the smallest and most mediocre event can brighten your day.

I loved the illustrations and the cultural elements used to represent Mateo's background. This was a fun read. Sometimes you just have to appreciate the little things in life.


Rating: 5 Star
Source: Own copy

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