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Garvey's Choice Hardcover – October 4, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—Grimes's latest is a sensitively written middle grade novel in verse that takes its syllable count from Japanese tanka. Garvey is an overweight boy who is teased at school and whose father constantly prods him to be more like his athletic older sister, Angie. But Garvey has a best friend (Joe), an open heart (which leads him to a new friend, Manny), and, as readers learn midway through the book, a talent for singing, which lands him a coveted solo in the school's chorus concert. Through that talent, Garvey finds a way to connect with his father and combat his bullies' rude remarks with a newfound strength of purpose. Those who thought Planet Middle School's Joylin was a remarkably lifelike portrait of an angsty yet kind adolescent will fall hard for Garvey, a tender, sincere boy who dislikes athletics. Grimes writes about adolescent friendships in a way that feels deeply human. VERDICT A short, sweet, satisfying novel in verse that educators and readers alike will love.—Abigail Garnett, Brooklyn Public Library
* 'Grimes returns to the novel-in-verse format, creating voice, characters, and plot in a series of pithy tanka poems, a traditional Japanese form similar to haiku, but using five lines.... (w)ritten from Garvey's point of view, the succinct verses convey the narrative as well as his emotions with brevity, clarity, and finesse.' —Booklist, starred review
* "(A) sensitively written middle grade novel in verse... (readers) will fall hard for Garvey, a tender, sincere boy who dislikes athletics. Grimes writes about adolescent friendships in a way that feels deeply human. A short, sweet, satisfying novel in verse that educators and readers alike will love." —School Library Journal, starred review
* "Grimes' newest follows a young black boy searching for his own unique voice, lost among his father's wishes and society's mischaracterizations. This compassionate, courageous, and hopeful novel explores the constraints placed on black male identity and the corresponding pains and struggles that follow when a young black boy must confront these realities both at home and in school.... This graceful novel risks stretching beyond easy, reductive constructions of black male coming-of-age stories and delivers a sincere, authentic story of resilience and finding one's voice." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Grimes tells a big-hearted story of Garvey...(e)mploying the Japanese poetic form of tanka—five-line poems (or, here, stanzas) with haiku-like syllable counts—Grimes reveals Garvey's thoughts, feelings, and observations, the spare poetry a good vehicle for a young man's attempts to articulate the puzzle that is his life." —Horn Book Reviews
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Told in verse, this book of poetry is brief and powerful. Garvey’s situation with his father reads a organic and volatile, the desperation to connect creating even more of a distance between father and son as the failures continue. Garvey’s use of food as a solace is intelligently done, offering hope that he can find his footing again but also not seeing weight loss as the ultimate solution or weight as the real problem. Verse allows Grimes to cut right to the heart of these situations, revealing the layers of issues at play.
Garvey is a bright, funny character. He is shown as a good friend, supportive and also accepting. As Garvey begins to reach out and try new things, he is rewarded by the chorus also reaching out to him. Again, the progress is done in a natural way. Nothing is perfect and there is no magical solution here. It is hard work, talent and slow progress towards a better place.
A shining look at loneliness, bullying and the ability of music to break down barriers. Appropriate for ages 8-12.
This is another novel that should not be listened to, the narrator shows no emotion as he reads the novel and he sounded like. A. Robot. When. He. Reads. The. Text. Which. Drove. Me. Crazy. There was no rhythm or perk in his voice and after the novel was finished, the author explained that her novel was written in Tanka, a type of Japanese poetry like a haiku but the author changed the number or syllables in her novel. That being said, I still think there should have been some type of rhythm in the narrator’s voice as he read. I normally love it when an author plays with their words in a novel and this is the first time I have ever listened to a novel being read using this technique and I think it will be my last time I ever do it. Listening to the audio, I thought the story lacked the emotions and the dramatics that it really deserves. It’s amazing how much a narrator can affect your reading experience. If you do read this novel, don’t listen to the audio, read the text yourself so you can put your own dramatics, your own pauses, and your vocals to the text.