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Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles
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Read Between the Lines

by Jo Knowles

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This book starts off telling the tale of teen Nate who breaks his middle finger in gym class, giving him the distinct advantage of being able to flip everyone off, even his father, without recourse. The book then spirals out into the tales of popular Claire, the janitor Mr. French, a group of bullies and their victims as well as others all tied together in the end. The common thread is being able to or having the desire to flip people off that is interwoven in each person’s tale. This is a wonderful compilation of life told through various perspectives! ( )
  Susan.Macura | Nov 26, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This was an interesting story told from a different person's perspective each chapter. Each chapter was a different time on the same day. Most of the people were connected in some way. Each chapter featured someone giving someone else the finger, for various reasons. It was teenage angst at its finest! You had the jock who was secretly gay, the "popular" cheerleaders, the outsider who is bullied, the "chubby" girl, and the going no where graduate. I enjoyed all of the stories and was wishing I could read more about each person instead of one chapter. All in all an enjoyable read. ( )
  luv2read97 | Jul 5, 2015 |
Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles got good reviews from library journals including a starred review from Kirkus, so it was with high hopes that I began reading. I had wanted to read it for a while. I had previously read See You at Harry’s which I thought was pretty good.

Ms. Knowles stated that the idea for the book germinated with an incident in which a driver gave her and her family the ‘middle finger’. It annoyed her even more than it would normally have except that he was in the wrong to begin with. So, as you can guess by the cover art, Read Between the Lines is all about that middle finger.

I will admit that I was somewhat disappointed with the book. It is comprised of several disparate stories that tenuously come together, sort of, in the end. Nate is bullied at school (and at home, to some extent) and in a rough game of dodge ball in gym, he breaks his middle finger and has to wear a splint. Everyone is somewhat jealous that he can give everyone the middle finger without really giving them the middle finger.

Claire is tired of ‘the girls’ and wonders if there is more to life than gossiping about everyone. Dewey bullies his next door neighbors because they are a lot messier than he is. He and his father began being ‘neat’ in hopes that the mother/wife who left them might come back. Now they’re anal about it. But their neighbors don’t mow their lawn and actually the mother is a hoarder. So, of course, Dewey is going to give them the finger.

There are more vignettes along these lines: bullying, giving the fingers, scamming, hopefulness, hopelessness, sexuality, peer pressure, etc. Everything takes place in the course of one day and, as a result, about midway through the book, lives start intersecting. But these intersections and their conclusions, at least to me, were unsatisfying, especially the last one regarding a sexy, new English teacher, Ms. Lindsay.

Ms. Knowles gets her point across and Read Between the Lines would be a good discussion book middle schoolers and young high schoolers. ( )
  EdGoldberg | Apr 28, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
First of all, I think this is my favorite cover of the year! The vignettes are a fantastic tool to draw in reluctant readers. Even though written in different voices, each vignette converges with the central theme; making a solid connection. ( )
  kissedbyink | Apr 6, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
READ BETWEEN THE LINES by Jo Knowles explores the ordinary live of people in a small town from ten different perspectives.

While the characters from the various chapters interconnect, each chapter stands alone and contributes to the “read between the lines” theme. While this quiet work of young adult contemporary fiction, lacks the memorable personalities and powerful social commentary of many popular YA novels, the slice-of-life approach will appeal to those seeking a straight-forward drama.

Reluctant readers who enjoy realistic fiction may be drawn to the short vignettes told by various voices. However, the lack of “over-the-top” drama may lose some readers.

For librarians seeking middle-of-the road realistic fiction for teens, this is a good choice. However, don’t look for it on the bestseller lists.

Published by Candlewick Press March, 2015. ( )
  eduscapes | Mar 16, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0763663875, Hardcover)

Does anyone ever see us for who we really are? Jo Knowles’s revelatory novel of interlocking stories peers behind the scrim as it follows nine teens and one teacher through a seemingly ordinary day.


Thanks to a bully in gym class, unpopular Nate suffers a broken finger—the middle one, splinted to flip off the world. It won’t be the last time a middle finger is raised on this day. Dreamer Claire envisions herself sitting in an artsy café, filling a journal, but fate has other plans. One cheerleader dates a closeted basketball star; another questions just how, as a "big girl," she fits in. A group of boys scam drivers for beer money without remorse—or so it seems. Over the course of a single day, these voices and others speak loud and clear about the complex dance that is life in a small town. They resonate in a gritty and unflinching portrayal of a day like any other, with ordinary traumas, heartbreak, and revenge. But on any given day, the line where presentation and perception meet is a tenuous one, so hard to discern. Unless, of course, one looks a little closer—and reads between the lines.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:24 -0400)

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