Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Review: PAPER COVERS ROCK by Jenny Hubbard
In Paper Covers Rock, narrator Alex Stromm, a student at a prestigious Virginia boy boarding school in the 1960s, struggles with the death of a friend by keeping a journal – the next “Great American Novel” – using the anonymous pen name “Is Male,” based on Moby Dick’s narrator “Ishmael.”
In the weeks that follow his friend’s accidental drowning, an incident in which Alex played a major role, he struggles with issue of truth vs. falsehood, confronts the reality of loss and his guilt regarding the accident, and realizes that his choices in friends play a major role in the shape of his life. The journal helps him escape his fear and guilt.
Through all of this, Alex’s English teacher, a recent college graduate in her first year of teaching, fosters his creative writing, as well as his fantasies. The hot-for-teacher crush, while slightly “icky,” is written in a believable way and she suffers the consequences for letting down her guard and allowing herself to get too close to a student.
Overall, Paper Covers Rock is an excellent read – not overly exemplary in terms of teenage behavior, but real and pragmatic in terms of the consequences of one’s poor choices.