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The Turning Hardcover – September 25, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen; 1 edition (September 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061999660
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061999666
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,406,930 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up-An updated version of Henry James's The Turn of the Screw. Jack is separated from his girlfriend by her disapproving father, who arranges a summer job for the boy babysitting two orphaned children, Miles and Flora, on an isolated island. The story is narrated by Jack in a series of letters to Sophie that relate the increasingly odd happenings: people appear that no one else can see, Jack hears vague rumors of a strange death on the island last year, and the two children appear to be hiding secrets of their own. From the housekeeper, Jack learns of the previous nanny, Lucy, and her lover, Norris-now deceased-whose ghosts may be haunting the area. Prose includes all the elements of the Gothic ghost story as she masterfully establishes a brooding, dark tone: a cavernous mansion, a mysteriously locked room, eerily well-behaved children. At times, the epistolary format stretches credulity (such as Jack still writing after he breaks up with Sophie). However, letters that end on cliff-hangers heighten the suspense and keep the narrative moving at a breakneck pace. Though the ambiguous conclusion is spooky, readers will likely find the twist at the end of Adele Griffin's Tighter (Knopf, 2011), based on the same source material, far more satisfying. As with James's original story, Prose effectively establishes the protagonist as an unreliable narrator, though the voice of Griffin's wayward teenager is more convincing. Still, this is a gripping page-turner that even reluctant readers will have trouble putting down.-Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journalα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

About the Author

Francine Prose is the critically acclaimed author of nineteen novels, including the National Book Award Finalist Blue Angel and My New American Life. She has written three other novels for young adults: After, winner of the California Young Reader Medal, an IRA/CBC Young Adults' Choice, and a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age; Bullyville, a PW Best Book and Book Sense Children's Pick; and her most recent, Touch. She is also the author of two picture books, Leopold, the Liar of Leipzig and Rhino, Rhino, Sweet Potato. The recipient of numerous grants and honors, including a Guggenheim and a Fulbright, Francine Prose was Director's Fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. She lives in New York City.

More About the Author

Francine Prose is the author of sixteen books of fiction. Her novel A Changed Man won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and Blue Angel was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her most recent works of nonfiction include the highly acclaimed Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife, and the New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer. A former president of PEN American Center, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Francine Prose lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

2.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 15 customer reviews
While I enjoyed most of the story, I was pretty disappointed with the abrupt and loose ending.
Aeicha @ Word Spelunking
It was almost as though the author forgot she was writing in letters... then switched back, trying to make the letters more natural.
The good: I've never read The Turn of the Screw (tried several times but couldn't get into it), but this novel made me want to.
Kristine Cook

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover
In 1898, Henry James's novella, "The Turn of the Screw," intrigued readers with its depiction of a high-strung governess who has been hired to care for two orphans, Miles and Flora, in a gothic house filled with menace. The governess's feelings of dread increase exponentially when she sees a male and female who may be the ghosts of deceased former employees, or perhaps figments of her fevered imagination.

In "The Turning," Francine Prose updates James's tale for young adults. The first-person narrator is Jackson Branch, a high school student who is getting the princely sum of two hundred dollars a week to spend the summer with a ten-year-old boy, Miles, and his eight-year-old sister, Flora. Jack was hesitant about taking this job, since it means being separated from his girlfriend, Sophie. However, Jack and Sophie have promised to keep in touch via snail mail. Why? "Crackstone's Landing," the tiny island where Jack is going, is a cut off from the mainland--no telephone, no television, and no Internet service--so Jack cannot call, text, or email Sophie. The book consists of letters, most of them written by Jack to Sophie.

Like the aforementioned governess, Jack finds the place where he will be staying somewhat sinister and unwelcoming. Known as "The Dark House," it is painted a funereal black and has long and winding corridors that are difficult to navigate. One room is locked and no one seems to know who has the key. As time goes on, Jack becomes increasingly uncomfortable. Although Mrs. Gross, the cook and general factotum, seems nice enough, the two children are eerie. They are stiff and polite to a fault; there is almost nothing childlike about them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Aeicha @ Word Spelunking on October 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Francine Prose's The Turning is a modern YA retelling of the classic The Turn of the Screw. I've never read the original, but I am familiar with the basic storyline and Prose's updated version is a great example of a retelling with a twist. The Turning may not have blown me away, but I did have a lot of fun creeping myself out while reading it.

Jake is spending his summer on an isolated island babysitting the two young chargers of a wealthy man. Jake, the two young kids (Miles and Flora) and the cook Mrs. Gross are the only inhabitants on the island and the house has no phone, tv or internet connection. Jake is hesitant about the job but it pays well and he needs the money for college. Even before Jake arrives at the big, black house, he experiences an uneasiness about the place; an uneasiness that is only increased once he meets the odd, overly polite children and learns about the tragic history surrounding the house. And when Jake starts to see people that no one else sees he struggles with his grip on reality. What's real? Who's lying? What can Jake really believe?

The Turning has a lot going for it: a genuinely eerie and captivating plot, a likable MC and a hauntingly palpable atmosphere and setting. One does not need to be familiar with The Turn of the Screw to enjoy or understand the modern YA retelling. Prose follows a very similar plot and keeps many of the same names as the original, but she definitely adds her own twists and turns to make the story fresh.

This is an epistolary novel, or narrated through the use of letters. In this case, the story plays out through Jake's letters to his girlfriend and dad and their letters to him. I've found that this narration style very rarely works well or usually reads awkwardly, and this book is no exception.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By These Curves Talk on September 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Turning by Francine Prose is a disturbingly creepy retelling of The Turn of The Screw by Henry James. Throughout the book we are slowly exposed to Jack's gradual descent into madness. The Turning was definitely different from your average scary story. First, the story was written entirely in prose. It was almost like reading a series of letters and it reminded me of Jonathan Harker's letters from Bram Stroker's Dracula. Overall, I enjoyed reading The Turning. It was a unique approach for a modern retelling and I found plenty of increasingly scary images. I would recommend this story to readers who enjoy classic scary stories because although this was definitely reimagined, it did have a nostalgic horror feel to it. Another important thing to note was the blur between reality and imagination for Jack. After several pages in, you can't help but wonder how much he's imagining.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kristine Cook on October 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Choosing a rating for this one was hard. Two stars feels so harsh, yet three stars feels far too generous. Since I can't claim to have not liked it I'll stick with the indifferent choice of "it was okay."

Jack is a teenager hired to babysit two children for the summer on a remote island with no phones or television. Thus, to communicate with his father and girlfriend back home, he has to rely on writing letters. Slowly things begin to turn weird and Jack is certain there are more people in the house than those among the living. The epistolary format kept the book interesting, though I think it compromised some of the character depth.

The good: I've never read The Turn of the Screw (tried several times but couldn't get into it), but this novel made me want to. Not sure how many teens would walk away feeling the same, but hopefully at least some will investigate the original. There were some kind of tense moments toward the middle that verged on being creepy (I'm not easily scared). Linda and the children were intriguing characters. I also liked how quickly the book read.

The bad: Jack is pretty annoying, and I felt bad for Sophie. The ending seemed oddly rushed and while I was satisfied with the main conclusion, I was left scratching my head about exactly what was true about the kids and what wasn't.

Overall, I enjoyed this retelling a lot more than Ten by Gretchen McNeil. The format was more interesting, the island setting framing the story was fairly detailed for the length of the book, and the plot moved briskly. I would recommend it most for reluctant readers and boys.
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