Thursday, December 3, 2009

Review: The Pencil Test by James Guilford

       My summary:
When Kendry Clare's drug-addicted mother Doris loses her job to her habit, she must move Kendry to East Atlanta--more than a few steps down from their life and home when Doris was at the peak of her career. But instead of disappointed, Kendry is excited to leave behind her non-existent social life at Crestman in hopes of being accepted at her new school; in hopes of getting in good with the girls she's seen on the train--the black girls.

Willing to do almost anything to win the hearts of the black girls, Kendry tells a life-altering lie on her first day at school that weaves a web of falseness around her world and ultimately affects the lives of everyone around her..

The Pencil Test was definitely something different for me. It is a novel that is dark, but in it's own beautiful way and it struck up emotions, thoughts and interests in me that I've never gotten from any other book.

My initial reaction to Kendry was that I could not relate to her. While I can understand the human need to fit in and to belong somewhere, especially considering Kendry's history, her fascination with the black girls came off as too obsessive for me to relate to.

On another level however, I could see myself in her shoes: On her first day at PLD (her new school in East Atlanta) she is the only white girl in the classroom, and says she feels "blaringly white." Being in an interracial relationship myself, it was easy (when we first started dating--now I'm used to it and know everyone) for me feel like I stuck out like a sore thumb when surrounded by my boyfriend's family/friends, so therefore I definitely found myself relating to her on that note.

As the book went on, I began to dislike Kendry more and more, and by the end of the book I all-out despised her. She was extremely fake and I felt like the fact that she joined the black movement group was really disrespectful, considering her true race. I was hoping for her to get caught in her lie.

Despite hating the main character, I can't say I disliked the book itself. I love how race fit into the plot. The black rebels group and Rastafarian segments made the book unique, which is great, but also left me slightly lost due to my lack of knowledge on the subject...but at the same time it left me wanting to learn more about it. The Pencil Test sparked a new interest in me and I can honestly say that's not something I get from every book I read.

I give The Pencil Test 3.5 stars and would recommend it to those who like the more dark drama young adult novels.

See my interview with James here.


Tales of Whimsy said...

Excellent review!

Marce said...

I think that sounds very interesting, I may have to add that to my TBR 2010 list. I'm intrigued.

Liz @ Cleverly Inked said...

Wonderful review..But definitely will not be reading this.

PeaceLove&Pat said...

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Anonymous said...

New to me author, this looks good!!