Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Twelve Things to do Before you Crash and Burn

12 Things to Do Before You Crash and Burn Title: Twelve Things to do Before you Crash and Burn
Author: James Proimos
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication Date: November, 2011
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel
Summary: James "Hercules" Martino has lost his father who was a Dr. Phil type of TV personality who everyone loved, but they didn't know the man that James had to grow up with. After James calls his father an ass at his funeral, his mother sends him to stay with his uncle who gives him 12 labors to complete during the 2 weeks that he is staying with him and through these labors, James will hopefully find some light in his life.
What I Think: I really felt the voice of this novel was quite humorous and even though he was quite snarky, I connected with him from the very first page. The Goodreads summary compares the novel to Wes Anderson's novels and The Catcher in the Rye and I can see how the voice could make it so the book could be compared to both. But just as Holden Caufield and Wes Anderson's protagonists are funny, angry, and sarcastic, James in 12 Things is as well. At first you don't see why James feels the way he does, but as you learn more about his life, the reasons for why James's anger are revealed. 
Read Together: Grades 9-12
Read Alone: Grades 9+
Read With: Hercules: The Twelve Labors by Paul D. Storrie, Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume, Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Snatch of Text: 
"There is a jar of pickles.  No one can open it.  The grown-ups pass it around the table. Each one tries to open it. Each one fails. My dad goes next. He tries with all of his might. His face goes read. But he cannot open the jar of pickles. He passes the jar to me. I must be about six year old. I grab it and twist as hard as I can. And it opens.
"Hercules!" my dad yells. "You did it!"
Since then, the name has stuck.
Like a jar of pickles, tightly sealed." (p. 1)
Mentor Text for: Connecting with Hercules's 12 labors myth
Writing Prompts: In what ways is James's emotional journey through Baltimore compare to Hercules's journey in completing his twelve labors? How was their reward similar?; Come up with a list of 12 things you think could make any person happy. 
Topics Covered: Death, Emotional abuse, Depression, Anger

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