Monday, January 22, 2007

Notes From the Midnight Driver

Sonnenblick, Jordan. 2006. NOTES FROM THE MIDNIGHT DRIVER. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439757797 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

In a moment of rage brought on by his parents’ recent break-up, sixteen-year-old Alex gets drunk for the first time, steals his mom’s car and ends up decapitating a lawn gnome as he crashes onto a neighbor’s yard. Alex is arrested and sentenced to 100 hours of community service at a nursing home—a sentence that in Alex’s view is way to harsh. At the nursing home Alex gets assigned to Solomon Lewis, a lonely crotchety elderly man with emphysema. Although their first meeting is less than cordial, it is not long before the odd pair finds a common link through their love of music and guitar playing. As time passes, an honest deep friendship develops between Sol and Alex.

Sonnenblick has infused this first person narrative with humor, sarcasm and teenage angst. This is an enjoyable story with strong unique characters. Sonnenblick wisely balanced Sol’s character, crotchety and lonely, by making him a prankster. Although some readers may find the ending a little too neat, the growth that Alex experiences while serving his “sentence” is remarkable. Even the surprises that Sol slowly reveals about his own life will keep the pages turning. Alex’s very real teenage voice, family problems, and girlfriend issues will resonate with teenagers.

Locate and listen to some of the Jazz and Blues selections mentioned in the book. Invite readers to chose a favorite style of music and create a collage of singers, lyrics to popular songs, etc. Display these creations.

Other books for young adults about intergenerational friendship:
Greene, Patricia Baird. THE SABBATH GARDEN. ISBN 0525674306
Mikaelson, Ben. PETEY. ISBN 0786813369

By S. Zulema Silva Bewley

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