Two books that made me frustrated and one that didn’t

25. Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff (Ginee Seo/Simon, just out).  Coincidentally, I met a person who was just finishing this book on the same day that we talked at the store about whether to put this on the children’s bestseller wall (because it made the list, and which is squarely in the middle of the children’s section) or to shuffle it over to the grown-up side.  He kindly lent it to me and I read it that night.  And then gave thanks that we had put it in the adult section just after flipping through it.  I am probably one of the most liberal book-hander-outers in the country, and I still wouldn’t hand that to anyone under 16 at the youngest.  It is just non-stop graphic about drug use and the life that goes with that, for about 300 pages.  In that sense, it probably would make a great teaching tool, and I recognize that there are definitely teens that get involved with meth and heroin before 16; however, I just can’t imagine it on the same wall with Fancy Nancy.  As for the book itself, it is very well-written–and, in fact, reads as though it was written for a younger audience–but depressing, of course.  Having never been addicted to drugs, I found his continual relapses more and more aggravating as the book went on, which I felt bad about, but couldn’t help.  I am now kind of curious to read Beautiful Boy, the book that his father wrote, but I’m sort of at the end of my rope with memoir right now.

26. Thin by Lauren Greenfield (Chronicle, 2006).  And speaking of books that frustrated me because they were about compulsions I don’t understand!  We brought this in the store because a librarian for whom I’m doing a book fair next week asked me to bring it, and I’m glad we did.  It’s based on an award-winning documentary that Greenfield shot at the Renfrew Center, a well-known center for eating disorders.  The majority of girls and women she photographs are anorexic, although there are a few bulimics and overeaters as well.  The photography is absolutely breath-taking; very crisp and professional without being exploitative.  The stories are alongside. Both text and pictures are heartbreaking, as you’d expected, but again, also occasionally aggravating.  Like most women, I’ve dealt with the pressures that lead to disordered eating and even gone through a bit of it myself, but I can’t imagine the mindset that leads people to this level.  And, as with drug addiction, you begin to wonder if there’s anything that will work to help.  I would encourage anybody in education or healthcare to at least look through this book, or see the documentary (although, as a friend who I showed the book and I agreed, it’s not the sort of film you’d necessarily want to own).  I will also be trying to bring in her other books.

And now for something completely different.

27.  Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Loo, pictures by LeUyen Pham (Schwartz & Wade/RH, July 2008).  Read on the recommendation of the stellar children’s buyer for Bookazine, Heather Doss.  I wish this book was already out so I could hand it to the small army of boys who keep coming in and asking for the third Diary of a Wimpy Kid book!  I adored this book.  I loved the voice: not only is it funny and authentic, it reminded me a lot of many classic narrators for some reason, like Ramona.  I just had this feeling the whole time I was reading it that I was reading a classic.  It’s about a second-grader who is scared of everything, so much so that he can’t talk in school.  He tries to be a gentleman, but makes mistakes here and there, puts up with his little sister, tries to make friends, and even has to see a therapist at one point (which had me laughing).  In fact, the whole book had me laughing.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.


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