Teen Book Review

For those who don’t know, Northeast Library will be having teen author Pamela Ehrenberg come to do a booktalk and reading on January 18th at 4PM.  Ms. Ehrenberg is a local author, and one of the books she will be talking about, Ethan, Suspended, takes place in DC.  If you would like to learn more about this book before coming to the booktalk, please read the review below.

For all of his life, Ethan Oppenheimer has lived in Maple Heights, Pennsylvania, on the outskirts of Philadelphia.  But one by one, incidents tear apart his suburban lifestyle; his parents separate and then decided to divorce, his sister leaves for college in California, and after he is suspended from school for participating in a stupid prank that injured a classmate, he is sent to live with his grandparents in Washington, DC.  His grandparents have no Internet connection or even cable, and he is the only white kid in a school of African-American and Hispanic-American students.  At first ridiculed and bullied, Ethan makes friends and starts to adjust to life with his grandparents, stumbling along the way  But when the opportunity comes to go back to Pennsylvania, will he stay in DC and take things easy or go back and face a new reality in his old home?

Very rarely does a book illustrate the divide between urban and suburban kids with such grace and aplomb.  Ethan starts out the story bemoaning his fate, but comes to realize how grounded his grandparents are.  He looks back at his own family and sees how difficult it was for them to communicate and what they lacked.  Of course, his grandparents are still very quirky characters despite how much they love Ethan, and they create some of the funniest moments in this book by clipping coupons, eating old people food, and trying to save fifty cents on parking.  However, the more important parts of the story are Ethan’s interactions at school.  His naiveté causes one friend to be hurt and another friend to hate him, and also leaves him a bit unlucky in love.  However, he always tries to learn from these mistakes, and becomes stronger from his experiences.  Suburban readers will gain a new appreciation for the difficulties of growing up in the big city by reading this title, and urban teens will appreciate this view of an outsider looking in.

Ethan, Suspended and Ms. Ehrenberg’s other work, Tillmon County Fire, are recommend for early to late teen readers.  Both books are on display at Northeast Library right now, and can be checked out here or at any other DCPL branch today!!!

--by Brandon Digwood