One of the drawbacks of reading so many books is that I have extremely high standards since I've read some truly excellent pieces of literature...and also some major duds. I say all of this because I read We Were Liars by E. Lockhart 2 years ago and so I know she has the capability to write amazing young adult fiction. I chose Fly on the Wall specifically because the review that I heard on BookTube led me to believe that it was a retelling of Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis and because I had enjoyed Lockhart's previous book. What I didn't expect was for it to be chock full of really explicit sexual content. Why on earth did she have to describe penises in such revealing detail? And why did she keep referring to them as gherkins?! (And if I ever hear someone call them that or refer to breasts as biscuits I'm going to slap them across the face.) The main character and the person who we view the story from is named Gretchen Yee and she is the prototypical teenage girl filled with angst. She attends a high school that focuses on the arts and her specialty is drawing comic book style characters (hence the cover imagery). Her obsession with a boy in her school leads her to make a foolhardy wish to be a fly on the wall of the boys locker room so that she can find out how he really thinks about her. (And this is where she begins to ogle the boys as they undress for gym class.) I guess the story is supposed to be a character study or a revelation that what we think we know about people can be turned on its head if we see them at their most vulnerable. However, for me it was a letdown and vaguely nauseating. This was a 0/10 for me and I'll have to give serious thought to reading anything else from this author in the future.
PS There were also a lot of plot holes in the storyline and the ending truly fell flat.
What I'm Currently Reading: The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead
Dear Mr. Henshaw was one of the first chapter books that I remember reading. I was captivated by the story and re-read the book numerous times. The story dives into heavy situations, such as divorce, bullying, and moving to a new school. I loved that the main character would write to his favorite author. I think that I would have students do the same! Because this book is for older readers, I would ask them to decipher the setting and draw or write about it. I would love to incorporate this book into a science or stem lesson. Just like in the story, I would ask students to design their own lunchbox alarm.
Guided Reading - Q
Lexile - 910L
DRA - 40
AR - 4.9
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The scene opens in a laboratory, showing two bearded octogenarians in lab coats. One bespectacled scientist is tipping a conical flask full of frothy vomit green liquid into a beaker. The other one is sitting across from him and observing with one eye closed to make up for his misplaced glasses. None of them is a redhead and there is a complete lack of annoying sisters clad in pink, pirouetting all over the lab.
“Easy on the Sibling Rivalry, Maaz. You know what happened the last time!” he says, checking if looking through a beaker would help him see better.
“Those tentacles…” Maaz says and both brothers shudder as they remember.
“Ugh never mind the tentacles. Do you remember that cleavage?” Shehzad opens his palms wide enough to hold a grapefruit in each hand.
“Thanks, bro”, Maaz puts down the flask and gives his brother a disgusted look. “I’d only just managed to get it out of my mind.”
Shehzad replaces the seeing beaker with a magnifying glass and retorts with, “It is a good thing that you don’t have a brain then. Ain’t it?”
Used to his brother’s insults, Maaz ignores and starts searching for something, “Whatever. Where did I put the syrup of Running Away From Your Responsibilities?”
“Too long, bro. We agreed we’d call it RAFYR. It’s by that beaker. Just a squirt, mind you” Shehzad reminds his brother with one of his eyes comically enlarged behind the magnifying lens.
“Stop lecturing me, Shehzad. I know how much of what goes where” Maaz manages to grab the RAFYR after dropping a beaker or two in his pursuit.
“Fine. Fine.” Shehzad gets up and starts pacing while trying to remember, “What are we missing? Ah yes”, he says spotting an amber bottle full of viscous liquid, “a dollop of Exam Fear” he goes to stand next to his brother and adds the last ingredient, “and we’re back in business!”
Meanwhile, Maaz tallies the number of ingredients on his fingers twice until satisfied, “All right! I’ll whip it up nicely while you get in the chamber. Mind your beard.”