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White Chalk by Pavarti K Tyler

White Chalk

by Pavarti K Tyler

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Chelle is a thirteen-year-old from a severely dysfunctional family. Her home life makes being bullied at school almost preferable. She has no hope, and in her own mind, no future.

She gets a shot of hope when Troy comes into her life. He’s the first boy to really show her kindnesses she hadn’t had before. Unfortunately, Troy is older, and unbeknownst to Chelle, is not interested in her in a romantic way.

The chaos in Chelle’s life ramps up when she discovers that Troy has a girlfriend. Her shaky emotional hold on life causes her to do many things that she wouldn’t have otherwise. But, as the book moves forward, we discover that her emotional instability has deeper roots that have been growing for much longer than we, the reader, anticipate.

Don’t be fooled. This is not a light and puppy-dogs type of YA story. Full of grit and sadness, this is not a tale for the lighthearted.

That being said, I did find that some tropes in the story were a little cliche. One specific line concerning rape offended me, and may offend others. I’ll not state it here.

The book is well-written by a very talented writer.
( )
  DanielleDeVor | Feb 17, 2015 |
Originally Reviewed At: Mother/Gamer/Writer
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Controllers
Review Source: Blog Tour
Reviewer: Sarika

Note: This review does contain spoilers

This book was impossibly difficult to review. I read it once, re-read certain parts again, and then abandoned my kindle for a few days so as to free myself from the mixed emotions this book began to spurn in me. I revisited the novel a little later, and I’ve sufficiently narrowed down my feelings about Chelle and her ‘screwed up life’.

I didn’t enjoy reading this book. I doubt anyone would, given the deeply morbid and extremely unsettling themes it covers. Don’t get me wrong-I am definitely not one of those people who think a good book must merit a feel-good read. Half of my favorite books are equally depressing, saddening and cover equally dark topics. I just didn’t like how Tyler dealt with these issues in the first place.

1. Pedophilia: I understand the extremely fragile nature of this topic, and I definitely respect the author for attempting to delve into the many layers that cover this issue. However, I disliked the way Chelle was painted as a completely innocent character (A teacher explicitly stated that she wouldn’t get in trouble for her interaction with Mr Harris, no matter what conspired between them, because as a minor, she is apparently inherently innocent) where she was most often the instigator in their relationship. Yes, she’s a thirteen year old kid, and she was navigating through some treacherous waters-but I don’t see how this is a viable defense. Her feelings that guide her through the relationship, the ‘rush of power’ and ‘feelings of control’ aren’t thoughts a normal teenager would have in the first place-she shouldn’t be able to use a youth as an excuse: she was just as accountable as the teacher in their mistakes.

2. Her relationship problems: Again, it unsettled me to see how the protagonist was painted as a victim with regards to her relationship with Troy, when she knew he was in a relationship, when she knew he was unable to commit to her. Although getting involved with such a young child was definitely wrong on Troy’s part, it doesn’t excuse Chelle’s actions whatsoever. Yes, he was unable to detect her feelings for him towards the beginning of the novel; yes, he fooled around with her when he shouldn’t have, but Chelle made questionable decisions herself, and the fact that she was a girl and that she was younger does not make her any less liable for the disaster that ensued. Again, I disliked the prejudice Tyler displayed that made it appear as though these two feats made her inherently innocent.

3. The ending: I know it will sound brutal to condemn Chelle for her final act of suicide, but I promised myself I would be honest in this review; and these are my honest feelings- I am extremely disappointed with the casual manner in which the author tosses away Chelle’s life, when there were so many windows of opportunities for the protagonist. She was unusually intelligent, had friends who cared for her, another love interest who loved her, along with a wonderful mother and supportive teachers. If a book were to be a champion for suicide prevention amongst the youth, this wouldn’t be a very good nomination because throwing your life away because of a boy is not acceptable at all. If I could have made any alterations to the book, I would’ve made her seize the opportunity to change given to her by her teachers, showing teens just like her that there is a solution, and that there’s no such thing as a lost cause.

Lastly, the writing style didn’t appeal to me as much as I thought it would. It did not invoke any sympathy on my part, simply because I don’t think the writer gave herself much time to build up on the emotions surrounding her gritty reality. It seemed like problem after problem kept hurling themselves at Chelle; an abusive father, a smoking addiction, an inappropriate relationship with a teacher, best friend troubles, living under poor circumstances and relationship drama, so that eventually they just became a list of troubles that didn’t do too much to make the character very likable. I believe Tyler was banking too much on the premeditated sadness associated with these issues that she forgot to establish any emotion herself.

Having said that, I did admire the risks she took with her writing, and the way she managed to capture the mind of a suicidal teen so well. It just wasn’t for me-maybe it’ll be different for you.
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  momgamerwriter | Feb 6, 2014 |
Which did you find more appealing, the introduction or the conclusion? The introduction. Pavarti Tyler offers hints about how bad Chelle's life is and nothing prepares you for what is to come so when it does hit you, it breaks open like a dam, and this reader was sitting thinking, oh wow.

Why would you recommend or not recommend this book? I will definitely recommend this book and it is extremely well presented but some people also get offended easily. So if you are one of those who are sensitive about "how things are SUPPOSED to be" then this book isn't for you. But if you want a slice of truth with a lot of raw emotions and a book that will make you think, this is one of the best books I've read in 2013.

Did the book description relate to the story? Yes, it doesn't prepare you for the surprises in the story but of course that is the author's intention.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author. ( )
  AshleyHaynes | Jan 5, 2014 |
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