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Someday My Printz Will Come
Inside Someday My Printz Will Come

Pyrite Redux: What Doesn’t Kill You…

Today, let’s revisit two of our Pyrite 11 that both have at their cores events that forever change their protagonists. I am, of course, talking about Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun and Andrew Smith’s 100 Sideways Miles.

When Joy first covered I’ll Give You the Sun, she praised the dual narration (duality of voice and time, no small feat). Both voices are highly commendable if not uniformly excellent (I’m not sure there’s complete agreement on this, so I leave it open for all of you to weigh in on). The meditation on art and creation and the complex, flawed, but genuine family are two aspects that have both garnered praise; against that, there is the question of whether it’s a bit soapy (the ending certainly did me in) and whether Oscar is just too much lean and too much fantasy for a book that is otherwise so careful to be believable even with it’s larger than life characters. (If it’s some awesome composition turned up to 11, Oscar may have wandered in from a boy band.) Clearly this is this year’s feels book, and usually that doesn’t correlate well with Printz awards, but look at Rainbow Rowell. So what do you say? Pyrite, Printz, or pretender?

Speaking of twins… 100 Sideways Miles is like Grasshopper Jungle‘s more fit but probably less fun at a party twin. Taken on its own merits — although I have a very hard time being good about this, because there is a strong similarity of voice and some thematic overlap between the two books that really begs for a good comparison — this one has a lot to offer. But it seems to have some accuracy issues that this reader at least is really struggling with — it’s a pretty huge crack in my disbelief windshield, honestly, and makes this definitely fall out of top 5 for me. More than that, in our mock discussion we kept talking about ways that this novel came close, but in the end this one still struck us as a little rough around the edges. Editorial suggestions abounded — to make the themes come across more clearly, to deal with the epilepsy medication issue, to make Julia less problematic — but that’s all just for fun, because in the end we can only assess the book we have, not the one we wish we had. However, we haven’t talked about this at length here aside from the accuracy issue, and maybe our small group was way off. Won’t you tell us if that’s the case?

And finally, I leave you with an anthem that all of these characters are likely to hate (well, except secretly maybe Jude), but which so perfectly speaks to their stories. Sing it!

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About Karyn Silverman

Karyn Silverman is the High School Librarian and Educational Technology Department Chair at LREI, Little Red School House & Elisabeth Irwin High School (say that ten times fast!). Karyn has served on YALSA’s Quick Picks and Best Books committees and was a member of the 2009 Printz committee. She has reviewed for Kirkus and School Library Journal. She has a lot of opinions about almost everything, as long as all the things are books. Said opinions do not reflect the attitudes or opinions of SLJ, LREI, YALSA or any other institutions with which she is affiliated. Find her on Twitter @InfoWitch or e-mail her at karynsilverman at gmail dot com.

Comments

  1. Joy Piedmont says:

    Okay, I know I got first crack at both of these books in the original reviews but that’s not stopping me from making a couple points now that we’re racing towards the awards finish line.

    I’ll Give You the Sun *could be* this year’s Eleanor & Park for me; it might actually be better. E&P also has high emotional resonance, a lot of popularity and appeal, and a highly character driven story. While I suspect that Rainbow Rowell’s fresh voice and lovely character writing pushed E&P to an honor, I think the strengths of I’ll Give You the Sun are its themes, story, style, and setting. This is a novel that excels structurally and has a cohesive execution of theme.

    Re: 100 Sideways Miles, it’s not really a Printz-worthy book for all the reasons stated above. However, I keep thinking about accuracy with this one. The climax of the novel does rely on Finn’s ability to swim, and yeah it’s doubtful that he would have reached that level of competency as an epileptic. I’m not sure if it mars my otherwise fairly positive opinion of the book (positive outside of the Printz context). But like I said, I think that the other weaknesses–namely the incredibly underdeveloped secondary characters–knock the book out of contention before even thinking about accuracy.

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