Sunday, 7 April 2013

review: Pinned

by Sharon G. Flake
Scholastic Press, October 1 2012
young adult contemporary

Autumn is the only female wrestler on her school's team, but her illiteracy is pulling her down. Adonis was born without legs, but he never lets that get in the way of his ever-higher goals. Autumn knows she loves Adonis, but barriers from all aspects of life block their way.
GOD sorry, I know that's a terrible summary. Forgive me!

The cover:

Ohhh man. Yay POC, but why the psychedelic purple background? And swirlicue title font with white outstroke? And oddly robotic-font author font? It just seems like not a lot of effort was made for this.

The book:

I really wanted to like Pinned, oh goodness I did. I mean, black protagonists and a disabled one, to boot? Such opportunity.

Well, let's start with the good: Autumn and Adonis both have remarkably distinct voices. They feel like authentic teenagers with an interesting push-and-pull relationship (though it feels more middle-grade than freshman high school). Their home life also gets ample page time, and Autumn's parents are equally interesting characters, while Adonis's mother is just plain sweet.

However, the growth of their character arcs never feel complete. And that is the problem with the entire book: no satisfactory resolution ties up any of the subplots or the main plot. Though Autumn turns around her reading problem and her attitude toward her illiteracy, the consequences related to her illiteracy (e.g. getting kicked off of the wrestling team) aren't shown as resolved. Autumn and Adonis's relationship still isn't public by the end of the novel, lending it an unhealthy tinge. And the conflict between Adonis and Peach doesn't reach any kind of conclusion.

The theme of wrestling as a tactic to life echoes through both Autumn's and Adonis's narration; in fact, ample potential in exploring both these teens' mindsets exists, and to a certain point it succeeds (for example, Adonis questions whether he should miss his legs or not). However, with an unsatisfactory end to a basic structure element—the plot—Pinned falls short of anything too meaningful.

Ethnic balance: 2 out of 5. I'm not sure if black communities usually are ALL black (but I live in Canada; we're pretty multicultural). There is a mention of one very minor Asian character.

Rating: 2.6 out of 5