Friday, January 4, 2008

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period
By Gennifer Choldenko
Most enjoyed by readers in 5th through 8th grade

Kirsten is really looking forward to the start of 7th grade. She's had a terrible summer. Her best friend Rory was off to camp or on vacation. Her other close friend moved away. Her parents are fighting all the time and barely even know she and her sister exist. Kirsten starts the first day of 7th grade glad to be out of the house and with hopes of having lots of classes with Rory. But the first day takes an odd turn from the start. As she's being dropped off, Kirsten's mom asks her if she knows the African-American boy just getting out of a red sports car. Kirsten doesn't know him; he's new. But as the red car pulls away from the school, Kirsten's mom screeches after it, leaving Kirsten to wonder what it's all about.

Walk, the African-American boy, watches and wonders, too. He's hoping his first day at this private white high school is good, because he misses his old school in the city. Walk's mom has put him in the school in hopes that he won't turn out like his troubled cousin.
When Kirsten discovers that her best friend Rory is now friends with the snotty queen of the school, Brianna, her friendship with Walk begins to grow. Kirsten is pressured to join Rory and Brianna but she has a hard time fitting in. She leans toward Walk because he's willing to accept her the way she is. Their growing friendship takes a difficult turn when both find out a secret that's been hidden for years.

You'll find that the characters are what makes 'If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period' great. Kirsten is believable as a young girl who struggles with problems at home, her weight, and the fact that her best friend has turned on her. Walk is a nice kid who tries hard to fit into an all-white school. But wait 'til you meet Briana, the rich 'queen' of the school, who sets Kirsten up as the thief of a teacher's wallet. Brianna is one character you'll find yourself really disliking. The relationship between all of the characters drives the story. Pick it up if you like novels with people you won't soon forget.

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