Friday, December 28, 2012

Cadillac Chronicles

Title: Cadillac Chronicles
Author: Brett Hartman
Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press
Publication Date: October, 2012
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction/Novel
Goodreads Summary: Sixteen year-old Alex Riley’s top priorities in life are to find his long-absent father and a girl with a decent set of breasts. But his mother has a knack for sabotaging his plans. To advance her political career, she takes in an elderly black man named Lester Bray. Lester arrives with a vintage Cadillac and an old man's personality. It takes only a week for Alex's mother to ask Lester to leave. That makes Alex angry. On the morning of his eviction, Lester and Alex set out on a road trip, ostensibly to find the boy's father in Fort Lauderdale. But the two don't just head south. They also cross through un-navigated political, racial, and personal territory. A wild ride, Cadillac Chronicles explores what it means to—finally—find a real friend.
What I Think: This is a book that surprised me. I'll admit that I definitely judged a book by its cover and when I decided to read this book, I assumed it was going to be boring. I am so glad that I still chose to jump in and I am so happy to be able to share this book with others. 
     Alex is a boy much like many of the teens we know- a loner, over medicated, depressed, yet brilliant and talented and no one sees it. Also, he has a mother who just doesn't see that he should be a priority. Lucky for him, his mother's need for publicity and acceptance brought him face to face with a man that changed his life. 
     Even reading this summary, it almost sounds cliche and didactic, but it is more than that. It is a road trip book that doesn't fit into the fold of other road trip books. I am a fan of road trip books because they are definitely a way to help characters unfold and for hope, realization, epiphanies, etc. to play a part and although this book does do that, it's clicheness ends there. 
     And what makes this book so special? Lester Bray. Lester Bray is the man that changes Alex's life. Lester is a man that outside of our story, changed many lives. He is so real that I feel like I know him and also makes me wish I could. 
Read Together: Grades 11 to 12
Read Alone: Grades 9 to 12
Read With: Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown, From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas, Don't Stop Now by Julie Halpern, Paper Towns and An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Snatch of Text: "I'm just wondering," Alex said timidly. "Do you think being gay is a choice." ...
     "It's only my opnion," Lester said. "But I think it can't be a choice. Who in his right mind would choose a life of being shunned by the mainstream?" He shook his head to stress the point. "Not, it's got to be something in the wiring." (p. 128)
Mentor Text for: Characterization, Plot Development, Voice, Foreshadowing
Writing Prompts: Sometimes the most unexpected person can change your life. Who have you encountered that ended up making a huge impact on your life? 
Topics Covered: Racism, Depression, Medication, Psychiatry, Politics, Friendship, Parenting, Virginia Tech Shooting, Civil Rights, LBGT

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