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The Homeschool Liberation League Hardcover – July 9, 2009
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From School Library Journal
Grade 6–8—After an awesome summer at Wilderness Discovery Camp, eighth-grader Katya dreads going to public school, which she finds "stupefying." She convinces her parents to homeschool her so she can enjoy her newfound interests in science and nature. Their idea of homeschooling is very different from hers. She spends most of her days working in her mother's beauty shop and doing lessons from the incredibly boring DIM (Daily Instructional Matrix) instead of wandering the area examining plants and animals. She begins dating Milo, a violin prodigy who is homeschooled as well and hates it, and they form the Homeschool Liberation League in order to change their parents' approach to education. With the help of Katya's friend Francesca, a reporter for the school paper, Katya and Milo work to achieve the outcome that they desire. Various local residents assist with Katya's schooling, particularly Eddie Horton, a regular customer at the beauty shop. The main characters are engaging, and the teens' actions and emotions realistically show the struggles that come with adolescence. Frank includes text messages and emails, which lend authenticity to the way these teens interact. The story is well crafted and moves at a good pace.—Laura Amos, Newport News Public Library, VA
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"The main characters are engaging, and the teens' actions and emotions realistically show the struggles that come with adolescence." --School Library Journal
"Frank depicts education in its purest form--an unencumbered, joyful quest for knowledge." --Horn Book
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Top customer reviews
What Katya really wants is Unschooling and if there was ever a kid perfect for unschooling it's her. I have met many kids like Katya who always seem full of facts and are eager to correct the adults in their lives when they find mistakes. There is much to admire in Katya; her unrelenting persistence, her intelligence and her growing empathy. She is portrayed in this story warts and all, so by the end you can really see the growth she has achieved.
This story is at times a condemnation of the public school system, a classic coming of age story and an examination of early teenage girls and their sometimes inexplicable behavior. The author writes with a narrative voice that rings so true that if you are an older reader like me, you will instantly find yourself transported back to middle school!
This book is an easy recommend for any 5th through 8th grade girl. Katya meets a boy Milo who enables us to examine some of Katya's problems from the other side of the fence. They make a cute couple in that they are so opposite. They engage in a couple of "spine shivering" kisses but that's about it. There are no language issues here, and aside from the aforementioned kisses, no sexual situations. Finally, let's hear it for the parents! They are portrayed as kind and caring people who want the best for their daughter and finally do a great job of paying attention and listening to her! Yeah! I love good parent characters...
So, Bravo to the Homeschool Liberation League and all the kids out there who decide they no longer want to play the game and all the parents who listen.
We both immensely enjoyed this book together. Nearly all the characters in it are interesting and I found its diversions from predictability refreshing. There were a few things I was so sure we'd have to endure in the story and I found myself pleased it didn't go there.
Occasionally, the book came off as a thinly veiled attempt to educate the reader on homeschooling, but not too often and always made sense at that part of the story.
I got a little teary-eyed at parts, but I think that's because I was reading it aloud. Tears during high emotional moments are hard-wired to my vocal chords which means I'm way more likely to cry if I have to talk at that time.
It's a cute story to read whether you are an adult, or closer to the age group. Even if you aren't interested in homeschooling, or can't be homeschooled it contains refreshing takes on what sort of schooling certain people prefer and why.
My only true beef with the book is Katya's frequent lying, sometimes without any real consequence. However, I think she's done with lying by the end, even though that point wasn't overly emphasized, despite being said outright. If a main character is going to do a lot of lying, I'd prefer this book's resolution over a heavy-handed moral filled with predictable formulas regarding lies and consequences.
However, I particularly enjoyed the focus on certain mind-numbing and infuriating social games that go on in public schools. If this book was around while I attended them...I probably wouldn't have been able to homeschool anyway, but the fictional Homeschool Liberation League may have given me more resolve and validation for avoiding the games as much as I could.
The book follows Katya's path through the first months of this new adventure. During which her parents try a very rigid schedule (basically public school at home) and a point at which they actually send her back to Middle School.
But this book is not all about unschooling. Not at all. It's about how there are many ways to learn and everyone has different needs. A wide range is covered and no learning experience is touted as better than another.
Some of the book IS very cliché, parents not "getting" it, Katya being under-challenged in public school and "creatively" filling her time there in ways that get her in hot water, a musical genius longing for a normal life, Katya stumbling over the perfect mentors with hardly any effort at all, grandfather who thinks homeschoolers are hippies and an all too happy ending for all. But beyond the clichés there are deep feelings that quickly draw you in and keep you interested (and worried!) until the end.
It was an enjoyable read, worthy of 5 stars!