Last December

Last December

4.0 1
by Matt Beam
     
 

A teenager, struggling with depression and contemplating suicide, tries to sort out his emotions in a letter to his unborn sister. Fifteen-year-old Steven needs to explain everything to his sister, Sam. She needs to know about Jenny from his new high school and how the freckles on her arm make his synapses go crazy. She needs to know about the Toronto Maple Leafs

Overview

A teenager, struggling with depression and contemplating suicide, tries to sort out his emotions in a letter to his unborn sister. Fifteen-year-old Steven needs to explain everything to his sister, Sam. She needs to know about Jenny from his new high school and how the freckles on her arm make his synapses go crazy. She needs to know about the Toronto Maple Leafs and trying out for the school hockey team. She needs to know about eighteen-year-old dropout Byron, all his fascinating ideas about chaos and coolness and trying to keep it together. And she definitely needs to know about what drastic measures Steven is now considering and why. But his sister isn't even born yet, and Steven is seriously struggling with the why part. In fact, Steven doesn't even know why his mother's having Sam in the first place ... and if Sam's actually a she. Whatever happens, though, Steven knows one thing: he needs to get this all down, so that someday Sam'll know what happened to him—to all of them—last December. I'd better restart at the real beginning or something, somewhere where all this will make sense, like last spring, at the end of eighth grade, because that's when I shot up 2 3/8 inches, and I basically felt like I'd been abducted by aliens, like in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, except I didn't get covered in a sticky cocoon, just a lot of zits. Yeah, that's also when things started happening to me out of the blue, like when my voice shot up so high that it went silent during my biography-presentation thing about Mike Palmateer, the totally amazing Maple Leafs goaltender, and the whole class was in stitches and falling out of their seats while I felt like I was going to die. —FROM THE BOOK

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

* "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." --Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Great for bibliotherapy with students who are experiencing multiple stresses in their adolescent lives." --Library Media Connection

Children's Literature - Shelly McCoy
This coming-of-age story is in the form of a diary written by fifteen-year-old Steven to his unborn sister Sam. Plagued with the all-too-common situations of a teenager—being new to a school, girls, trying out for a sports team, drinking, and family issues—Steven chooses to write to the one person who cannot judge him, at least not yet. The diary sounds like a long suicide note, especially at the beginning, but a relationship with a loner named Byron gives Steven some understanding that he has to accept the ways things are. The style of writing is right on mark; all teenagers will be able to identify with what Steven is going through and sometimes, perhaps, that is all a reader might need to realize that what they are going through is normal as well. This book would be good to include in a teenager book group or as a class discussion to encourage teenagers to talk about some of the things going on in their lives. Reviewer: Shelly McCoy
Kirkus Reviews
Even though he thinks the universe is crazy, aimless and chaotic, 15-year-old Steven is composing a letter to his yet-unborn sister Sam, so when she reads it, she'll see, in chronological order, all of the connections and causes and effects in his life. A nerdy science geek who also plays hockey and begins to flirt with a cooler crowd, Steven meets druggie-rocker Byron McCarthy, who introduces him to "god with a small g," who "started this stupid universe with a bang" but left no plan, just chaos. Byron, with the help of Ms. Pac-Man as metaphor for the randomness of the universe, leads Steven to ponder life, family, friends, sex and even Chaos Theory. 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. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590786512
Publisher:
Highlights Press
Publication date:
10/01/2009
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)
Lexile:
NC1750L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet 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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Last December 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
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.