Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Heat advisories in effect for Lexington - in the low 100's, but I just put socks on to keep my feet warm! Turned the air down from 75 to 78. Steve is normally too warm and I often have a flannel shirt on over my t-shirt so when he is gone the temp. goes up! But, on the other hand, I can't handle the extreme heat either. So I am happy here in my little office for now. Will work on Fall courses until I go the chiropractor and get some relief from this headache. Vertigo is still trying to raise its vicious head but I am dealing with it.

Finished Patrick Jones' Chasing Tail Lights last night, which is set in his hometown of Flint, Michigan. I grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan so the cities below the bridge were as far away as another state. We spent more time in Wisconsin and Minnesota than Lower Michigan, until my older brothers went to college and moved down to Troll country - below the bridge. Jones opens the reader's eyes to what it is like growing up in a poor urban white, very dysfunctional family. Christy has two older brothers and a little sister - all with different fathers. Christy misses her trucker father who has died and often thinks of him telling her that, sometimes when you are lost, chasing the tail lights in front of you will take you were you want to go. Christy spends a lot of time on the over pass chasing tail lights in her mind, wanting to get out of town and away from her life. When her best friend Anne gets a car they do literally chase tail lights, but they never get far out of town. Christy has had a crush on the same guy for years, but she won't talk to Anne about sex. For good reason - she has been abused by her older step-brother for years. Through the use of flashbacks, Jones takes the reader back through Christy's life so we can see the hell she has lived with and how she blames herself for what is happening to her. It takes a caring teacher who also grew up in urban poverty to help Christy stand up for herself and ask for the help she needs. Jones pulls no punches when he addresses the issue of sexual abuse, but he does not include graphic descriptions of the abuse, which make the incidents even more intense in their starkness. I found myself holding my breath as I was relating to Christy's connection of smell to her step-brother's abuse. The teacher's dialog gets a bit "preachy" at times and the repetition of "chasing tail lights" can be distracting, but overall this is an excellent novel to add to a YA collection. This is a Walker title that should be out sometime this month. The short interview with Jones in the back is an interesting addition and offers the reader some insight into the author, who many of us know as one of the best YA librarians on the planet. :-)