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The Sharp Time Hardcover – November 8, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385740484
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385740487
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,649,929 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Sandinista’s life is not going as planned. Her mother has just died; she lives alone, terrified in their house; and an abusive teacher has made her flee school. Something different is in order, so Sandinista goes to her favorite vintage shop, the Pale Circus, and takes a job. Now she is living in two worlds. One is work and the not-yet-gentrified neighborhood that also hosts a pawn shop, an erotic bakery, and a monastery, home to jam-making monks. The other is the world of her imagination, where she plots to kill her teacher. Though the central will-she-or-won’t-she question moves the plot, what will hold readers spellbound are the words and images that swirl through the pages. Set in the winter, the story is wrapped in cold: Sandinista’s icy inner dialogue; the frigid feel of a pink gun against her hand; the “sweet lacquered crescendo of glass crashing on snow,” when she throws a granite toad through the teacher’s window. But there is also warmth, especially in the form of the Pale Circus’ other young employee, Bradley, whose own pain allows him to know how to ease Sandinista’s. O’Connell’s references to the beauties and evils of Catholicism add elements in equal parts transcendent and gritty. The book takes place over the course of a week, but there are so many thoughtfully drawn characters and intense emotions that it reads like a small lifetime. Which, for Sandinista, it is. Grades 9-12. --Ilene Cooper

Review

Starred Review, Booklist, January 1, 2012:
“The book takes place over the course of a week, but there are so many thoughtfully drawn characters and intense emotions that it reads like a small lifetime.”

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, October 3, 2011:
"O’Connell shows exceptional skill in building tension and creating atmosphere."

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2011:
"Palpable grief plus irreverent humor equal one extraordinary debut novel. Sharp storytelling indeed."


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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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This is what young adult fiction, at its best, can be.
Molly
It's rare to find this theme trackled in fresh ways, making The Sharp Time a different little novel that's best savored for the beauty of the words.
Sarah Moon
Not at all dumbed down -- great story -- very compelling characters and plot.
elizabeth gallagher

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Andrea Hoag on November 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Even though this is Ms. O'Connell's debut novel, it doesn't have the feel of a first book. It's too fluid and captivating to be the work of a newcomer. Sandinista Jones will feel like a hilarious best friend whose voice you'll love to have banging around in your head for a couple of days. Even though the book bears a sense of tragedy (18 y.o. Sandinista's single mother recently died) she's so sharply observant and mordantly funny that each page is a literary minefield of jabs and jewels to be savored slowly.

In truth, though, what I loved best about THE SHARP TIME was the schoolyard revenge fantasies Sandinista gives voice to. The novel's tension builds as she plots pay-back on an abusive teacher at her school. Seriously--don't we all wish we could make someone pay for past wrongs?

On a sidenote, it's also a must-read for anyone with Kansas City ties, if you like to see your own stomping grounds represented on the page in all their sinewy seediness. People who came of age in the 80s punk rock scene surrounding Lawrence and Kansas City will also find a lot of personal touchstones to enjoy in THE SHARP TIME, the glory days of Sandinista's late mother.

O'Connell's storytelling is a thing of not only rare beauty, but subtle truth-telling. Lastly, THE SHARP TIME's stark originality will stand out in a current Young Adult book landscape crowded with sameness.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lisa McKenzie on November 28, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
After being injured in an attack by a hysterical algebra teacher, Sandinista Jones realizes, "I am not some child trapped in a subpar day care, I am an eighteen year old adult with my own goddamn getaway car," and slips away from her classroom "as if for a dental appointment." She promptly applies for a job at the Pale Circus, her favorite vintage clothing store. There is nothing, and no one, to stop her. And there's the rub. Her mother, her sole adult guardian, has died in a freak accident, leaving Sandinista to negotiate the world alone.
Sandinista is too open-hearted to remain alone for long. She's "a glammed Rosie the Riveter, off her shift and searching for love: Hello, you big bad world." Her heart becomes "agog with sudden cuckoo bird love" for almost every character she encounters on 38th Street in downtown Kansas City-- the Trappist Monks, the storekeepers, and most especially her co-worker, who is "going retro with his angst." His "vintage Sex Pistols T-shirt, Levi's with a two-inch rolled cuff and black motorcycle boots," pairs prettily with her "wolfish soft pink mohair sweater, plaid pencil skirt, cream tights, chocolate suede T-straps and waist length raspberry fake fur."
Yet even as "the aesthetic of my life has improved about one hundred and five percent," something remains missing. Sandinista returns to her empty house eagerly "expecting the wild siren flash of multiple missed messages: maybe not the police, but at least the principal, the counselor, my Honors English teacher, Ms. Lisa Kaplansky. A friend or two. But no." Could the "big bad world" be truly indifferent to Sandinista's existence?
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I loved this book. Not at all dumbed down -- great story -- very compelling characters and plot. I recommend for teenagers of every age.
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By Barry J Besonen on April 13, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This book was the best book I have ever read I really think u would like it it was amazing
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By Judith S. Avila on December 17, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a beautifully written book - so much so that I had trouble with it being listed as "young adult" genre. The heroine's issues are complex and devastating, but her determination and strength are an inspiration. I would recommend it for any age. - Judith Avila, co-author of "Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir by One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII"
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By David Kidd on July 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Sandinista Jones is haunted by the death of her mother and the life that could have been as well as the life which seems to exist just beyond her reach. All the feelings of desire, guilt, fear, and love that course through the souls of teenagers everywhere are sharpened here as our heroine tries to figure out whose life she is living and how she will live it. A beautifully rendered time and place in everyone's life feels fresh and new in O'Connell's sleek, evocative prose.
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