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Paper Covers Rock Paperback – June 12, 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Ember; Reprint edition (June 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385740565
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385740562
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #192,809 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, April 25, 2011:
"Hubbard has a superb handle on her boarding school setting...A powerful, ambitious debut."

Starred Review, School Library Journal, June 2011:
"The story builds to a climax that will have readers on edge. It could be read alongside many of the classics that deal with friendship and loyalty, as well as deceit...Those who are looking for something to ponder will enjoy this compelling read."

Starred Review, The Horn Book Magazine, July/August 2011:
"Hubbard’s characters are confounding and intriguing...The traditional, buttoned-up boarding school setting makes the perfect backdrop to this tense dictation of secrets, lies, manipulation, and the ambiguity of honor."

Starred Review, Booklist, July 1, 2011:
"Both plotting and characters are thoroughly crafted in this stellar first novel. The poetry that Hubbard produces from Alex’s pen is brilliant, and the prose throughout is elegant in its simplicity. Reminiscent of John Knowles’ classic coming-of-age story, A Separate Peace (1959), this novel introduces Hubbard as a bright light to watch on the YA literary scene."

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

JENNY HUBBARD is a poet and playwright, and has taught English in both high school and college for many years. This is her first novel.

From the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

Great story and very well written.
Kathryn Roberts
My thoughts after reading this book... Why do certain opening sentences just sing to me...I knew I was going to love reading this book from the start!
I read this brilliant book last night.
John Wetterholt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By John Wetterholt on June 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Wow. Just plain old unfiltered, felt-from-the-seat-of-the-soul WOW!

I read this brilliant book last night. One sitting. The four most enthralling hours I've spent with a book in a long, long time.

A group of students at a boys' boarding school cope with the aftermath of a drowning death. How much do they tell? Who else knows what happened? What did they see? These questions form the wellspring of a stopry filled with tension, guilt, betrayal, as well as an assurance the life goes on after a tragedy.

Comparisons to "A Separate Peace" are apt. The author has clearly read (numerously) and come to intellectually own John Knowles' story, and while she borrows pretty broadly from the earlier novel's motif, her tale is wholly her own. I guess one of the reasons I found "Paper Covers Rock" so compelling is the time setting, 1982. I was a freshman in college that fall, living, for the first time, the kind of residential academic life portrayed in the book. The cultural references (down to Alex's father's love for Simon & Garfunkel) bespoke my cultural sensibility at the time and gave an air of ivy-covered familiarity to it all.

The structure of the novel fascinated me. The sub-headings were all consistently married to certain aspects of the narrative: variations on the title headed sections describing Thomas' death, sections headed by a student's name focused on their part of the tapestry, and I'm sure that had I ever read "Moby-Dick" the chapter headings would have rung out to me. The story was easy to follow despite the back-and-forth of its placement in time.

And the characters. Oh, how well-drawn they are! I really got into Alex's head and felt that, after just 181 pages, I really knew him. Glenn was nearly perfect.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Daisy Whitney on June 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
PAPER COVERS ROCK is the story of a sixteen-year-old poet-in-the-making at a boys boarding school who harbors a secret and guilt. He and his buddies were goofing off by the river one fall day and one of them drowned. But was there more to the death than meets the eye? That's what PAPER COVERS ROCK unravels through poems, narrative and Alex's journalistic accounting of the events, all while our hero is falling deeply in love with his English teacher.

I had chills reading this novel. As I neared the end, I had the distinct feeling that I was in the presence of greatness, a book that will leave an indelible mark on literature for years to come. From the beautiful language, to the clever turns of phrase, to the deep exploration of classic issues like guilt, deceit and loyalty, PAPER COVERS ROCK truly has all the hallmarks of a classic.

This is a book that will stand the test of time and will stand alongside novels like THE CHOCOLATE WAR and A SEPARATE PEACE.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jane L. on January 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this wonderful book in two sittings--would have been one were not for my small children to care for!

This book is a breath of fresh air in the YA genre that is so often a wasteland of trendy romance and/or bloodthirsty, amoral thrillers. It gives one heart to know that teen readers have an offering like this on the bookshelf. The story is told by Alex, a junior at a boys' boarding school. Alex has just witnessed the drowning death of a friend. The book is written as his purported journal as he struggles with what may have really happened that day, his feelings for his English teacher, Miss Dovecott, and the hidden agenda of his best friend who was there that day too.

Hubbard's young male hero is fully human in his range of emotions--he has his lusty moments, as well as his feelings of guilt. The reviewer in Kirkus doubts that the 16 year old could write with the eloquence which Hubbard gives him, but I don't. Teenagers are perhaps MORE in touch with their eloqent poet-selves than are older people, it seems to me. I believed Alex's every word. This book rang true. And it rang deep. I couldn't put it down--and--can you believe it, no one had to speak in valley-girl slang, have random sex, get bitten by a vampire, or burned to death. It is a character-driven book.

And it is also a thoroughly contemporary book in its structure--the short chapters and sub-chapters were non-intrusive and seem natural to the story, but also give it a very living, breathing, facebooking, twittering edge to the read.

John Gardner, that great critic who wrote On Moral Fiction, would be proud of this first novel by Jenny Hubbard. He would stand and cheer for her. He would say thanks for believing in the YA audience and not talking down to them.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By NCProf on June 23, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Paper Covers Rock accurately captures many aspects of the boarding school culture of the 80's. There are enough twists in the story to make the reader want to find out what happens next. Alex's struggles to balance his loyalty and affection for his teacher with his friend's scheming and his own feelings of guilt are engrossing. I highly recommend this book for adults as well as teens.
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Format: Hardcover
John Knowles's A SEPARATE PEACE is one of those novels that I enjoyed much more when I read it on my own than when I was assigned it for eighth grade English class. I still remember Knowles's emotional examination of boys' intense but guarded friendships, of accidental death and survivor's guilt, even though I've forgotten most of the details of plot, character and theme.

Jenny Hubbard's PAPER COVERS ROCK seems, in many ways, to be a direct descendent of Knowles's classic. There have been plenty of other boarding school novels published in the intervening years since its release (remember a little place called Hogwarts?), but Hubbard's book shares not only some basic plot points with Knowles's but also a certain atmosphere, a vibe, a willingness to dig deep into the cultures and contradictions of this insular world.

Sixteen-year-old Alex Stromm knows that attending boarding school at The Birches is his best chance to pursue the kind of life he hopes to find for himself. His parents are divorced, his mom largely absent and his dad preoccupied with his own teaching far away. Alex longs to write, poetry especially, and The Birches is a place where a boy who loves words as much as he loves running cross-country can feel at home. It doesn't hurt that his new English teacher is beautiful Miss Dovecott, a recent Princeton graduate who is only five years older than Alex and is the subject not only of his fantasies but also a whole lot of harassment on the part of his classmates.

The year is 1982, after all, and this is a boys' school in North Carolina. Cell phones don't exist, female teachers are a rarity, and homophobia runs rampant.
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