- Age Range: 12 - 18 years
- Grade Level: 9 - 12
- Lexile Measure: 1750L (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 160 pages
- Publisher: Front Street (October 1, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1590786513
- ISBN-13: 978-1590786512
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,584,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Last December Hardcover – October 1, 2009
About the Author
Matt Beam is a writer, photographer, and teacher living in Toronto, Ontario. He has taught in various capacities around the world, from Fiji to Guatemala to Toronto. After exhibiting his abstract color photography for ten years, Matt is having his first collection of images published in City Alphabet. Matt's young-adult titles include Earth to Nathan Blue, Can You Spell Revolution?, and Getting to First Base with Danalda Chase.
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Steven's dad died when Steven was only one. He doesn't know a thing about him. Now, about to have a little sister who also won't know her dad, he sets about trying to explain things to her. He begins to write Sam a letter. He's not sure when or if she will ever read it, but he writes about everything that's happened to them last December.
There was the new high school and Steven's desire to be part of the hockey team. There was a fight with a group of skinheads and the threat that they might come back for more. There was the irresistible Jenny and new best friend, Trevor, who got Steven involved in the high school social scene. There was Byron, the Ms. Pac-Man playing stranger, who always seemed to show up at the Donut Hole. All of these are intertwined in Steven's letter, along with the stress and pressure of being the man in the family for his pregnant mother and his soon-to-be little sister.
LAST DECEMBER describes Steven's struggle to adapt to the normal ups and downs of being a teen at the same time he comes to terms with being there for a mother about to become a single mother of two children. Using the concept of a letter, author Matt Beam takes his readers directly into Steven's thoughts as he attempts to provide history and guidance for his unborn sister.
Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky"
The main character, Steven is a fifteen-year-old freshman in high school in 1982, living in Toronto, Canada. He has just moved to a new school and is in the process of attempting to fit in to the new environment. He even tried out for the school hockey team and didn't make it. However, in the process of trying for the team he does make some new friends which lead to a series of significant events in his young life. These events include drinking and smoking for the first time, meeting and attempting to date a young lady, and even having a fight with a school bully.
I like how Beam addresses the difficult issues of adolescence in this little book. He addresses the stresses of peer pressure, the desire to find intimacy with a girl and the stresses of living with a single mother who is pregnant. This would be an excellent text to place in the hands of a reluctant reader because the scenarios presented by the author are realistic and contemporary enough to capture the interest of similar age students. One concern for some readers may be the use of profanity. In the beginning of the text, Beam never uses the "f-word" and instead substitutes the term "effin'." However in the last chapter, he does use the real word; this could be a concern for some.
On a final note, I found this text captivating because I was also an adolescent in the 1980s. Some of the video games, music and styles of the 80s were realistically incorporated into the text. I really enjoyed this because it brought back some memories of those "good old days." However, a good story is a good story no matter what the time period and I believe this is a good story!
Powerful but understated, Beam's writing is at its best when it deals with the ins and outs of every day life and delving into the depths Steven's psychology. Strong, unflinching in its desire to reach the truth of humanity, Last December treads a fine line between the desire to understand the universe and our own place within it.