Sunday, August 11, 2013

Rogue, by Lyn Miller-Lachmann (ages 12 - 16)

Wow, oh wow. If you want a book to grab you, take you on a gripping ride and make you think about what it means to be a friend, check out Rogue by Lyn Miller-Lachmann. My twelve-year-old read this, utterly intrigued by this story, and right away told me that I had to read it. Boy was she right!
by Lyn Miller-Lachmann
Nancy Paulsen / Penguin, 2013
your local public library
ages 12 - 16
*best new book*
Kiara knows that she’s different, a mutant like her hero Rogue from the popular comic book series The X-Men. As she says right from the start in this compelling first-person narrative,
“It usually took the new kids two weeks to dump me, three weeks at the most.” (p. 1) 
In fact, Kiara has Aspberger’s Syndrome and cannot process the social cues around her or the emotions surging through her. Kiara feels intensely isolated now that her mom has left to pursue a singing career in Canada and her father has emotionally withdrawn. It often seems that Mr. Internet is Kiara’s only source of information and support.

When Chad’s family moves next door, Kiara is desperate to make and keep a friend. Against her better judgment, she joins Chad on his trips to buy large quantities of Sudaphed. At first she believes that it’s just to help his little brother’s cold, but she soon realizes that Chad’s parents are running a meth lab out of their home. Chad certainly manipulates Kiara, but he does not completely reject her.

As Kiara and Chad become closer through their shared love of BMX biking, they each discover a sense of accomplishment and pride. Kiara makes exciting videos of all the kids doing stunts on their bikes, posting them to You Tube. The kids all love the attention her dramatic videos get, and she feels a special place - for once in her life.

Miller-Lachman raises multiple questions through this gripping, gritty story: What does it mean to be a friend? How do you find your place and your talents in the world? While this is certainly a story about a young girl coming to terms with Aspberger's Syndrome, it's much more a story about what it means to be a friend.

The graphic climax creates a tense narrative in which there are no tidy answers. Kiara and Chad both grow, but their journeys are difficult and will continue that way. This is certainly a book I would recommend for kids in middle school or high school, because of the impact of drug and alcohol use. It's intense, but realistic - with clear consequences.

I found it really interesting to read on Lyn Miller-Lachmann's blog about her school visit with the 8th grade at Hackett Middle School. She talked to the kids about the problems Kiara has making friends, and then asked for their advice to Kiara. It's fascinating what the kids had to say, that they recognized that Kiara needed help, and then how Miller-Lachmann transitioned the discussion into bullying.

Take a look at the beginning of Rogue on this Google Books preview:

The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Nancy Paulsen / Penguin. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

©2013 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the review! I'm so thrilled that you appreciated ROGUE. Please let me know if you or your readers have any questions.