PINNED by Sharon Flake – Review by Teresa Bunner
I have to start this book review with a few disclaimers. First, if you’ve ever read my reviews on Goodreads, you know I don’t give a lot away nor do I extol the virtues of the book in great detail. Second, my love for this book is totally influenced by the fact that the amazing Sharon Flake Skyped with my high schoolers over the summer and read to us from her book Pinned before it was in stores. Who doesn’t love a sneak preview?!
After Sharon gave us a sneak peek, I knew I would like the book. I wasn’t prepared to fall in love with the book and the main characters, but I did! Pinned is a story told by two voices- Autumn and Adonis. Sharon writes these characters in such a way that they come alive on the page for the reader. Both are strong, positive characters. But neither is perfect. Each has a major flaw, which influences their lives. Adonis’ flaw can be seen. Autumn’s cannot. But each struggles to make their way through the day and persevere in spite of the difficulty.
But while the flaws they possess create conflict for Autumn and Adonis, this is not a story with a gloomy feel. There is so much hope on the pages. If ever there were a poster child for optimism, Autumn would fill the role! My teacher heart found me wishing Autumn were in my classroom. You truly can’t help but love her. A reality Adonis eventually succumbs to.
Sharon writes Adonis with the same vitality and he, too, comes alive for the reader. Adonis is a lot harder to love. He’s smart, focused, helpful and goal-oriented. But he has an understated egotism that underlies what he says and does. But Autumn loves him and because she loves him, I found myself loving him, too.
The cast of supporting characters is strong as well. Sharon has gift for dialogue and for weaving different characters’ stories together. You find yourself as a reader caught up in feeling for Autumn’s parents who are poor readers and want more for their child, for the teacher, Mr. E, who diets and diets to lose weight, for Autumn’s friend, Peaches, who makes some poor choices in an effort to live up to what is expected at home.
As an educator who works primarily with students of color, I must also confess to being biased in my love for this book by the fact that the cover predominantly features a young woman of color. Look around your local bookstore. Covers like that are hard to come by in the YA section. Autumn and Adonis are both African-American. While their race is not pivotal to the storyline, it does provide a book type that is in short supply in the publishing industry. This is a growing-up story, a story about every day struggles in the lives of teens, their families and a story about the angst and joys of high school and first loves and friendships.
Teresa Bunner has been an elementary, middle and high school teacher and reading specialist. She’s been a member of the Nerdy Book Club for as long as she can remember. When she’s not busy sharing books with the kids she works with, she enjoys sharing them with the 4 boys in her house who are avid readers as well. You can find her thoughts on closing the achievement gap as a featured blogger for Triumph Learning.