Maybe Read This, Read This

Maybe, Read This: Paper Covers Rock

Recently, I’ve read Jenny Hubbard’s début novel Paper Covers Rock. Most of the YA fiction I read tends to have female narrators, so I try to switch it up now and then. The story of PCR is told by Alex Stromm, a junior at Birch boarding school for boys. From the beginning we know Alex was involved in the scene when one of his best friends, Thomas dies as a group of boys are goofing off rock-jumping into the French River. That part we know, but we also know early on there’s more to the story. The chapter titles are words from Moby Dick and the sections alternate between Alex’s guilt, his obsession with his English teacher Miss Dovecott, his pseudo-best friend Glenn’s manipulation, and Alex’s poetry. I’m not really sure how I feel about this book, and I guess that in itself says a lot. If I’m not raving and gushing, then it’s not one of my favorites (obviously right?) PCR is pretty short, only 183 pages but even still I found my self struggling to get through it. I was curious enough to keep going, though it didn’t capture my undivided attention. I haven’t been staying up late unable to put it down (shamefully, I actually fell asleep reading it last night,) though I do think Hubbard’s unique writing techniques were an exercise for my brain, and it’s worth giving a chance if you’re curious. I will say, PCR’s setting in the eighties intrigued me, how often does that happen lately? The references to old swimsuit model posters, and pop music and teen flicks continuously reminded me the story was told in the past. It’s funny that Publisher’s Weekly described Paper Covers Rock: “In the tradition of John Knowles’s A Separate Peace.” because I had the same notion while reading, (and I really enjoyed ASP!) Critics and customers a-like reviewed it fairly well, and the book was even nominated for a few awards, so perhaps I’ve just been in a weird mood while reading and haven’t been able to fully appreciate the story? This story, like some others I’ve come across, really gripped me in the last thirty or so pages. Enough to where I can walk away struck by the poetic way Hubbard strings her words together, Alex’s story flowing across the pages. This is more than your average coming of age tale, it’s also somewhat philosophical and a mystery of sorts.

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