Thursday, May 2, 2013

Book Review: Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie S. Tolan

Jake Stemple is considered one of the ultimate bad boys. He's been kicked out of every school he's ever attended. Then he ends up at Wit's End. Wit's End is where the Applewhite family lives. The Applewhite children are all home schooled and Jake's grandfather has decided that Jake will be joining them. Jake moves in with the Applewhites and realizes that they are all crazy artists (except for E.D.), but he is eventually sucked in and joins the family for a massive project that will take everyone's skills.

I liked watching Jake find his place in the Applewhite family. He gets sucked in so subtly he clearly doesn't realize it at first. I also like that you get into Jake's brain as he realizes how many of the things he's doing weren't about him but were in fact about how he wanted others to perceive him.

I like the insight into E.D. as well. She is clearly the odd one out but she still plays a vital role in the family. The play could not have been pulled off without her, and in her own way I think she is just as creative as the other Applewhites', it's just in a way that we are not used to thinking of as creative.  

I guess I've been reading too much fiction where relationships play a heavy role. I was totally expecting E.D. and Jake to end up in some kind of relationship and that never happened and it felt so much more right because of it.  It would have made the novel too busy as there was already a lot going on and I don't think it would have felt genuine.

There was lots of humor and lots of hard work. Destiny is a great example of that. He's a funny kid but he takes a lot of work, which also made the book feel more honest and genuine. It was also interesting to see the amount of work that went into putting on the play.  There was just enough technical detail to make things interesting but not so much that it felt overwhelming or taxing to figure out what was going on.  I really enjoyed reading this and when I have time will definitely consider reading the second one.  

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