Friday, March 25, 2016

THIS JOURNAL BELONGS TO RATCHET - Nancy J. Cavanaugh [Book recommendation]

Book obtained from: Library, e-book [2013]

Description: This is a middle grade book, formatted as the language arts journal of a homeschooled 11yo girl, Rachel. Her mother is deceased. She lives with her hippie father who works on cars and is an environmental activist. Because she helps her father fix cars, and she's good at it, he calls her Ratchet. 

Plot: The book tells the story of Ratchet's 6th grade year. She wants to learn more about her mother. She wants to have a friend. She wants to belong and have a “normal” life, which is difficult because her father embarrasses her with his activism. The main goal of the book is Ratchet learning about her mother, making friends, and becoming her own person. 

Characterization: Rachel/Ratchet and her father are well-developed, quirky but realistic. The secondary characters are not as well-developed, but they did have their own personalities. 

Setting: A regular neighborhood, which includes a park. I don't recall any specific mention of a city/state name, but the author is from Florida so perhaps that's where the book is set. 

Other: My husband and I homeschool our children, and I get tired of reading about the “solution” to kids having friends is to enroll them in a traditional school environment. So I was a little apprehensive about how the author would handle this. It starts with Rachel as 11yo and having no friends. I was disappointed in this aspect, because when my kids were 11yo they all had a boatload of friends, because they participated in lots of activities like church, scouts, sports, etc. However, I was very impressed that the author had Rachel becoming her own person and making friends without the requirement of enrolling in a traditional school setting. 

Overall: Good book. With the exception of the beginning when Ratchet doesn't have friends, it shows homeschooling in a reasonably positive light, which I appreciated. 

Grade: B+

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