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Forum nameReading Challenges, 2010
Topic subject41. Skate by Michael Harmon
Topic URLhttp://www.fmwriters.com/community/dc/dcboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=505&topic_id=6&mesg_id=776
776, 41. Skate by Michael Harmon
Posted by alissaameth, Thu Jun-10-10 03:42 PM
Young Adult, 242 pages.

This isn't a genre I read a lot of, but I enjoyed this book. It isn't what I would call a top-knotch book, but it was compelling enough to make me finish it in a hurry. (To find out what happens to the main character--not because I wanted it to be over fast. ;) )

The story is about two brothers: fifteen year-old Ian and ten year-old Sammy. Ever since their father left them with their drug addict mother, Ian has been taking care of Sammy. (He picks him up from school, helps him with his homework, forges the mom's signatures on papers that get sent home, scrounges for their dinner...) When Sammy has a problem in school, his teachers talk to Ian because the mom is impossible to get a hold of. She's not home very often, yet Sammy checks each room every day when he comes home from school. Ian, on the other hand, has given up on her a long time ago. When she does come home, she usually has a new (drug-dealer) boyfriend with her. They're never friendly. On top of all this, Ian has his own problems at school. He's an outsider among his peers (a skater with "punked hair" and earings) because he doesn't want to fit in with them and he doesn't care about the sports program. He's been flagged by the administration as a problem kid, and knows that the majority of the faculty wants him gone. When he gets into trouble, he knows he can't afford to be arrested--he doesn't want Sammy to be placed in foster care. So, the two set off on a journey to find help.

I kept reading because I just didn't know how the story would end. I could imagine several possibilities, but I really couldn't tell until it happened. In that sense, this was really good story-telling. I didn't find it predictable. Yet at the same time, it wasn't a deus ex machina ending--it didn't come from nowhere. There were parts along their journey where the story sagged. I'm not sure what it was. Maybe a tad bit monotonous? I can't put my finger on it. I just read through those parts faster. This is a quick read, anyways.

I think the author did really well with characterizing the brothers--especially Ian, who is the 1st person narrator. If anything, I would've liked to learn more about Ian's life and the things happening to him, especially a little bit of what happens after the ending. (But I can see why the author doesn't include that. The story has to end sometime...) Ian has attitude/anger problems and expresses himself with violence too often, but his commitment to his brother is very real. Sometimes Sammy hates him, because Sammy thinks he's just trying to take him away from their mom. At times, Ian lets this get to him, and other times he doesn't. They have their fair share of fights (both being put into situations that demand more maturity of both of them than they have). Ian learns some lessons along the way, but it isn't in a condescending way.

In the end, I enjoyed this story but probably won't re-read it. If the author wrote another story about Ian, I'd read it! (I'm assuming he hasn't already, I haven't checked.)