March 14, 2011

Who knew reading about someone's head could be this great?!

This weekend I spent my time reading two awesome books - Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins and Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt. I couldn't put either down, and I love when I am so enraptured in reading that everything else sort of happens around me.

With Sean Griswold's Head I got more than a love story; I got a story about a girl struggling with who she is and who she will become - all through her focus exercise. You guessed it - the back of Sean Griswold's head! What starts out as a harmless exercise turns into so much more - even more than love. It turns into a discovery that sometimes it is okay to mourn things we've "lost" as long as we celebrate what we have.

Brief Synopsis
Payton Gritas is dealt a blow when she learns that her father is suffering from multiple sclerosis and has kept it secret from her. While this seems harmless to the average teen, Payton is not the average teen. Her life is together, and organized, and ordered. This wrench sends her over the edge...and Payton discovers she is not the girl she thought she was.

Since her version of teen rebellion is ignoring her parents, she is sent to the school counselor. The counselor's advice is simple: find a focus object and keep a journal. The object should be something inanimate that she can concentrate her emotions on. Instead, she decides to use Sean Griswold's head. After all, it is huge. This single decision sends Payton on a trip of self-discovery, learning that it is not okay to keep those you love at a distance. 

Packed with a carefree best friend (Jac, who I think got most of the great lines), a possible "vampire" (Grady), and Seinfeld references (which I loved), you will find yourself lost in Payton's world - but in a good way.

Leavitt creates a solid plot that handles a teen dealing with her father's disease with care. This book is a comfort piece for any student who finds him/herself in a similar situation. Not since Side Effects can I remember a YA novel touching on subject matter as tender as this. There are not too many books written where a character becomes empowered in the way I saw Payton transformed while "dealing." Leavitt's creative plot reminds readers that suffering happens to all of us, just in different ways...and of course that the person sitting in front of you in class could just be the love of your life.

Sean Griswold's Head was a lovely surprise for me. I picked it for the YA Teacher Reader book choice for the month of March, and I cannot wait to hear if my colleagues enjoyed it as much as I did. I highly recommend this to all lovers of YA, all high school teachers, all high school teens.

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