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Last December Hardcover – October 1, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

* "... The contrivance of the novel - as story, "letter or whatever" - works brilliantly, because Steven is an intelligent, likable character with an utterly fresh and original voice. As readers begin to realize the novel might be an extended suicide note, they will be captivated by Steven's journey to find meaning in a universe where only god with a small g is behind it all." --Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

"Written in the form of a suicide note from 15-year-old Steven to his unborn sister, this title captures the struggles of an adolescent who doesn't know where to turn during troubling times. We experience his struggles with a depressed friend, his frustrating efforts at playing hockey, and his day-to-day life in a single-parent home. The author skillfully weaves Steven's journey from hopelessness to acceptance of circumstances, and problem-solving strategies are interwoven throughout the story. Steven faces some intense situations that make this book more suitable for readers in mid-adolescence. This title will be great for bibliotherapy with students who are experiencing multiple stresses in their adolescent lives." --Library Media Connection

Written in the form of a suicide note from 15-year-old Steven to his unborn sister, this title captures the struggles of an adolescent who doesn't know where to turn during troubling times. We experience his struggles with a depressed friend, his frustrating efforts at playing hockey, and his day-to-day life in a single-parent home. The author skillfully weaves Steven's journey from hopelessness to acceptance of circumstances, and problem-solving strategies are interwoven throughout the story. Steven faces some intense situations that make this book more suitable for readers in mid-adolescence. This title will be great for bibliotherapy with students who are experiencing multiple stresses in their adolescent lives. --Library Media Connection

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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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 18 years
  • Grade Level: 9 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1750L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 156 pages
  • Publisher: Front Street Press (October 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590786513
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590786512
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,374,129 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm not too sure why this book has such great reviews. It's such a short read, yet I found myself forcing myself to read it. I did not like the writing style at all. The main character is extremely unlikable; the whole book is him writing a letter to his sister,who his mother is still pregnant with, and basically telling her how he hates her and she is going to screw everything up. I get that he's troubled, but the book was not engaging at in the least. The book reminded me of The Perks of Being a Wallflower in format and main character, yet I really enjoyed Perks because it really gave you a good understanding of the characters and some insight, whereas Last December left me thankful it was over.
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By cschwar2 on June 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was good. It kinda reminded me of The Catcher in the Rye in the sense that it was kinda pointless but drags you into the story.Also when I first out this on my TBR list I thought it would be more about hockey but it really isn't at all.
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Format: Hardcover
Last December is the story of Steven, a 15-year-old boy caught between adolescence and the start of manhood. Full of hope and full of despair, the story is told as one long letter/ suicide note as he endeavours to provide guidance for his sister that he may never see.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book because it surprised me with some of the themes important to adolescents that were introduced. The book is written as an epistolary (told as a letter) novel, written to the main character's unborn sister. It is really interesting how he writes to her and even admits that he may not be so excited about her birth.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
When his mom's boyfriend takes off, Steven's relieved. He never really liked Mike. Unfortunately, Steven's mom is pregnant. She says she's having a girl, and they begin calling her Sam.

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"
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