Monday, January 4, 2010

Review: Freeze Frame by Heidi Ayarbe

Woohoo! First post of 2010!

Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend. I always enjoy New Year's Eve - though now that I live in the celebration capitol of the country I fear for my life if I have to enter Manhattan on New Years Eve. Not because it's actually dangerous, but because there's so many people! But tourist season is officially winding down here, so that means I have a few months of (relative) quiet before tourists start coming back in the spring.

I got Freeze Frame from the library a couple of weeks ago, actually, but it took me a couple of tries to get into it. Not sure why, but when I did finally make it past that first chapter, I couldn't put this book down - I even stayed up late to finish the last two chapters (which actually doesn't happen to me too often anymore - since I know I have a train ride in the morning, I'm usually content to wait until then to do my reading).

On a cold winter morning, after Kyle insults his sister and angers his mom, he and his best friend Jason escape the house to explore the old shed behind Kyle's house. Jason pokes around on the shelves and unveils a gun that was hidden up there.

The next thing Kyle knows, there's a gun shot, and Jason is on the ground with blood flowing from his chest.

At the hospital, at 10:46 AM, Jason is pronounced dead.

Though Kyle can't remember what happened, the court sentences him only to probation, sure that this isn't an act of cold blooded murder. Everything has changed for Kyle, but now that he's on probation he's expected to resume his life: his probation agreement means going to school, getting good grades, and staying out of trouble, all of which are easier said than done since Kyle can't seem to care about school and when he is there, the other students either stare and whisper or harass him outright for being a killer. Home isn't a relief either: Kyle's sister was friends with Jason's brother, and the two families live next door to each other. Also, Kyle has taken it upon himself to look out for Jason's little brother, a target for bullies at his elementary school.

Kyle's one coping method is writing. As a film aficionado, he writes the scene of Jason's death over and over, imagining it as a movie script directed by a different director, each time getting closer and closer to uncovering how exactly he killed his best friend.

Kyle finds two saving graces at school: Clock, another outcast who tells stories through pictures, and Mr. Cordoba, a strict librarian who is the subject of numerous rumors about his past. When the cafeteria becomes unbearable, Kyle starts eating his lunch in the library, and Mr. Cordoba slowly but surely takes the troubled boy under his wing, giving Kyle a place to study in peace in return for some help re-shelving books. He also gives Kyle a series of books to read, and encourages Kyle to talk about them after he's read them.

As Mr. Cordoba's and Kyle's relationship grew, I found myself wondering why we don't see more awesome librarians in literature. We see cool teachers in all sorts of subjects, and sometimes the local public librarian can be an ally if a book takes place over the summer, but school librarians seem to be mostly absent. They certainly aren't as awesome as Mr. Cordoba. Kick ass librarian there.

What kept me up late reading was to see the culmination of the relationships Kyle built over the course of the novel. Before Jason's death, Jason really was Kyle's only friend, and even that relationship was drifting apart as Jason began to make friends among the popular kids. In the aftermath of losing everything, Kyle slowly rebuilds through his friendships with Clock, Mr. Cordoba and Chase, which is what really keeps the novel moving - the scripted scenes are interesting, but I didn't have nearly as much interested invested in those.

Has anyone out there made any reading/blogging resolutions for the new year? I know lots of people try to read 50 or 100 books in a year (I just went back and counted - I reviewed 97 books on here last year, though not all in full posts, which means I easily cleared the 100 book mark as there were a handful of books I read but didn't blog about, including one book that was actually an omnibus of 4 novels and a novella). I'm not setting a goal for myself this year, but one of my handful of resolutions this year is to blog consistently. That means averaging 3 times a week and hopefully building up a backlog of reviews to post automatically should I find myself away for a few days. Fingers crossed!


Heidi Ayarbe said...

It's always so wonderful to hear the thoughts of a reader. Thank you! And I'll be sure to visit your blog more often. LOADS of books you've reviewed that I have on my "to read" list.
Heidi Ayarbe

ps Hope it's not totally weird I'm commenting about your comments about my book! :-)

Angela Craft said...

Not weird at all! I really appreciate hearing from authors, actually (especially when I've given them a positive review!). Thanks for visiting!

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