Sunday, May 10, 2009

Slob by Ellen Potter

In Slob, Owen Birnbaum is overweight. Not only is he being picked on at school, but someone has been stealing his Oreo cookies from his school lunch. He's very serious when it comes to Oreos; he's allowed only three for the day because he's on a diet. Owen tries to catch the culprit so that he can get his daily "reward". On top of that, he's trying to make a contraption that will allow him to see into the past to an event that changed his whole life. Along with his sister, Owen goes scavenging for parts for his creation, which he's called Nemesis. Once it's complete, he thinks he can tap into an old video camera signal and get some resolution in their lives.

What a great clever novel for young readers! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I love books where the protagonist addresses the reader, this book is no exception. It makes me feel like an insider to the story. I loved how the story unfolded slowly giving the reader bit and pieces of the story. I also really liked the references to the "old" TV shows, especially the ones I watched.

The book is filled with many things that preteens and teens should be able to relate to (being picked on, trust, friendships, conflicts, strict teachers). Also, there are many great characters in this book. I really liked Owen and Mason. I could really relate to Owen's emotional eating, but I can't believe how much he ate. On the other hand, he is a growing teenage boy, so maybe it's understandable. I liked Mason because he was totally misunderstood and it took another "outsider" to see that. I, also, thought Nima was an interesting character and loved hearing about his Buddhist lifestyle. He turned out to be much younger than I thought he was going to be. I guess I always think of Buddhists as old. Silly, I know.

Even though the book is loaded with funny bits, it does have some serious or sad moments where I couldn't help but feel for the characters. I loved Owen and really hoped that things would go his way in the end.

I honestly didn't really understand the GWAB (Girls Who Are Boys) club that Jeremy/Caitlin, Owen's sister was into. Other than it being another aspect of teenage rebellion, I didn't see how it fit with Owen's predicament. Maybe I missed something. It was interesting, though.

The title is pretty clever and it's source and relation to the story totally surprised me. You'll just have to read the book to find out more about it. ;)

Recommended. Even though it's written for young readers, I enjoyed it and I think other adults will, too.

For more information about this book, please visit the Penguin Canada website or Ellen Potter's website.

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