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That's Not a Feeling by Dan Josefson
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That's Not a Feeling

by Dan Josefson

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I enjoyed the adventures at The Roaring Orchards School for Troubled Teens. I feel like... That's Not a Feeling, I believe that That's Not a Feeling is a wild ride that leaves one pondering questions and issues brought up. ( )
  sar96 | Jan 2, 2014 |
I enjoyed the adventures at The Roaring Orchards School for Troubled Teens. I feel like... That's Not a Feeling, I believe that That's Not a Feeling is a wild ride that leaves one pondering questions and issues brought up. ( )
  sar96 | Jan 2, 2014 |
I had no idea there were so many different kinds of puppets. There is a whole paragraph listing them and I think it was very prevalent to the characters the way anything was prevalent to anything at all in this book. A lot of small details to leave or take, and I took them all happily. Everything didn't have to connect, it just was there. I liked that about this book especially since it does take place in a sort of step up from a psych ward but a loony bin nevertheless where I pictured everything very easily and in my teen years could have been there myself. Just like the other puppets. ( )
  E.J | Apr 3, 2013 |
This is a difficult review to write, because this is a difficult novel to describe. Set in Roaring Orchards, a residential group home for wayward teens, it’s narrated by 16-year-old Benjamin, who finds himself unexpectedly deposited at Roaring Orchards by his parents. Benjamin is clearly an unreliable narrator, as we get events not only from his perspective, but he also narrates from the perspective of the staff and other residents, during experiences for which he wasn’t actually present. So, we can’t be sure how much of his account is accurate, but somehow this didn’t affect the impact of the story for me.

Roaring Orchards is an insular world, founded by Aubrey, who has developed his own system of working with the teens that he teaches to his staff, who for the most part follow without question. Both odd and charismatic, Aubrey is also ill, and as his health deteriorates, so does the structure at the school; staff, some of whom seem caught in perpetual adolescence themselves, find themselves in precarious situations with “their” kids that have both hilarious and heartbreaking outcomes.

Written in a tone that is sometimes sardonic, sometimes forgiving, and sometimes hilarious (I laughed out loud on several occasions reading this), this is a book that is rich, funny, sad, deep, vulnerable, dark, silly, and unfailingly original. I don’t think I have ever read anything quite like it, and I enjoyed it immensely. ( )
  Litfan | Dec 29, 2012 |
Because so many first-novels are coming-of-age tales, it is no great surprise that Dan Josefson’s That’s Not a Feeling follows the pattern. No, the real surprise here is how good this book is for a first effort. Within the confines of a boarding school for troubled teens called Roaring Orchards, the author creates a unique little world that is as appalling as it is funny – and he makes it all seem very real.

Although only those being completely honest with themselves would admit it, Roaring Orchards is a place for desperate parents to park children with whom they can no longer cope. Some of the teens are suicidal, some are borderline criminals, some are former addicts, and a few are simply incapable of coping with everyday life. Roaring Orchards represents the last chance their parents have to save them – and to reclaim a normal life for themselves. That Aubrey, the school’s headmaster, strictly limits contact between parents and children makes it that much easier for parents to rationalize the relief resulting from their children’s absence.

Benjamin, who has already tried to kill himself twice, agreed to tour the boarding school with his parents only because it “calms them down.” By the time he realizes that his is a one-way ticket, Benjamin’s parents are long gone. He does not want to be there, and he lets everyone know about it. But until he can figure out the system, he is going to have to take it one precarious day at a time.

Aubrey uses an inflexible set of rules – bordering on rituals - to keep his Roaring Orchards students in line. The students, ranging in age from 14 to 16, are divided into three groups, or “dorms,” with distinctive sets of privileges and obligations for each group. At the top of the hierarchy are “Normal Boys and Girls,” followed by “Alternative Boys and Girls,” and “New Girls and Boys.” “Normal Kids” have the run of the school and the headmaster grants them a status almost equal to that of his teachers. “New Kids,” the group with zero privileges and special work obligations, is where everyone begins his stay at Roaring Orchards – although for some it is a revolving door of a dorm they never seem to escape for long. Consequently, “Alternative Kids” are very much aware that they are always one slip-up away from returning to the “New Kids” dorm.

This is not a happy place for anyone but Aubrey. Teachers are as unhappy as their students, the main difference being that teachers can escape (as they regularly do) by quitting the school, while students are limited to desperate prison break runs that never gain them freedom for long.

Immensely observant and insightful, Benjamin is also quite the chronicler and That’s Not a Feeling is a wild ride – sometimes horrifying, sometimes hilarious, always unforgettable. ( )
  SamSattler | Oct 28, 2012 |
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Abandoned in a therapeutic boarding school in upstate New York, 16-year-old suicide survivor Benjamin endures a turbulent environment dominated by scheduled medication, emotionally arrested caregivers and a brilliant but raging headmaster whose sudden illness throws the school into turmoil.… (more)

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