Thursday, February 20, 2014

All About Middle Grade Review: Trash Can Days (ARC)

Trash Can Days by Teddy Steinkellner, August 20, 2013. 352 pages. Published by Disney Hyperion. Source: ARCycling.
Jake Schwartz is not looking forward to middle school. Puberty feels light-years away; he’s not keen on the cool clothes or lingo; and he has the added pressure of preparing for his bar mitzvah. The only saving grace is that Danny Uribe, his lifelong best friend, will be by his side…

Or will he? Since Danny’s summer growth spurt, there’s been a growing distance between him and Jake. Danny is excited to explore all that junior high has to offer…especially the girls (and most notably Hannah, Jake’s older sister). But gang life has its allure, too, and he soon finds himself in over his head.

Meanwhile, Hannah is dealing with her own problems–being queen bee is not easy. The other girls are out for blood, and boys are so…exhausting. Danny surprises her with his maturity, but can Hannah’s reputation survive if she’s linked to a sevvy? And what would Jake think about her hooking up with his best friend?

Dorothy Wu could not care less about junior-high drama. She is content to stay in her bedroom and write epic stories of her adventures as a warrior mermaid maiden. But that changes when she discovers the school’s writing club. There, she meets a young lad with heroic potential and decides that life outside her fantasy world just might have some appeal.

In the course of one year at San Paulo Junior High, these four lives will intersect in unique and hilarious ways. Friendships will grow and change. Reputations will be transformed. And maybe someone will become a man.
First Sentence:
Danny grew half a foot this summer. 
I very much wanted to like this one, but that was not to be.

Trash Can Days was not what I was expecting, not at all! Truthfully, I'm not even sure why this is labeled as a middle grade book because some of the content seems inappropriate for the target age group. While I have pretty much loved most of the middle grade books I have read lately, Trash Can Days was sadly disappointing for many reasons. I will try to thoughtfully explain why this book did not work for me and why I believe it is aimed at the wrong age group. '

While the actions of the characters was very predictable, especially, when you take into account the demographics of the school and area of the book, Trash Can Days does paint a pretty spot on picture of the lures of the gang life and how a slip of the tongue can change the opinion of everyone you know. So, readers who enjoy books that, while predictable, take a hard look into the darkside of schools will most likely enjoy this. Alas, it was sadly not my cup o' tea.

There are very many problems with Danny, Hannah and Jake for me as a reader and the way they come across. For these three characters, I can think of nothing good to say because they were such disappointments. Yes, no one is perfect, but the characters were so stereotypical cast (the rich boy unable to deal with the shifting of an old friendship; the snarky, popular older sister with the barbed tongue; and the lower class boy who falls to the gang life) that it was no wonder that there was no chance for them with me.        Do I think the author missed the opportunity to break the mold with his characters, yes, yes I do. The whole time I was reading this I felt like I was stuck re-watching some predictable teen flick that followed in the mold of every teen flick that preceded it.

There is only really one thing, or I should say character, that I liked in this whole book, Dorothy. Dorothy was funny and just a little on the crazy side, but she had a good heart and I liked her spunk. In a book where all of the main characters disappointed me for one reason or another (their lack of sticking to their convictions and just generally lack likability) her story was what kept me reading till the end.

To say I was disappointed in Trash Can Days would be an understatement. while the writing was good and the story had potential, I did not enjoy the way the author treated this supposedly middle grade novel. Frankly, I am a little surprised that Disney Hyperion let this slide for young readers when it would have been more suitable for teens.

Final Verdict: Trash Can Days- While an interesting book was not one I'd recommend to the age group its' aimed at.

Trash Can Days earns 2 out of 5 Griffins.

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