Metamorphosis: Notebook, Junior Year


He’s a young artist obsessed with myths. But can he fix his own fate? Acclaimed author Betsy Franco and her talented son collaborate on a hip YA novel of "epic" proportions.

Life. Love. Death. Identity. Ovid’s got a lot on his mind, and he pours it all — as confessions, observations, narrative poems, and drawings — into the pages of a notebook. Inspired by his namesake, he wryly records his classmates’ dramas as modern-day Roman mythology. There’s Sophie and Caleb, the Psyche ...

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He’s a young artist obsessed with myths. But can he fix his own fate? Acclaimed author Betsy Franco and her talented son collaborate on a hip YA novel of "epic" proportions.

Life. Love. Death. Identity. Ovid’s got a lot on his mind, and he pours it all — as confessions, observations, narrative poems, and drawings — into the pages of a notebook. Inspired by his namesake, he wryly records his classmates’ dramas as modern-day Roman mythology. There’s Sophie and Caleb, the Psyche and Cupid of cyber-couples; poetic Paula, who pursues filmmaker Franny like Apollo chasing Daphne; and graphic novelist Duwayne, a Proserpina shuttling between divorced parents. Meanwhile, Ovid hides his own Olympian struggles: his meth addict sister Thena has run off, leaving him with a suffocating home life and a disturbing secret. In her striking YA debut, Betsy Franco introduces an expressive soul with a heartbreakingly authentic voice. Fantastical ink illustrations by her son Tom Franco enhance the intimate tone, delving deep into one intriguing teen’s imagination.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Jeanna Sciarrotta
Ovid has a notebook that houses his drawings, poems, journal entries, and inner-most thoughts and feelings. Like many high school students, he has a lot to say that he does not want others to hear, but there is no one listening to him anyway. Having secrets is true for most high school students, according to Ovid's thinking. Born into a slightly dysfunctional family with a very dysfunctional sister, Ovid is the son that his parents will make sure "gets it right." They are determined that he will not "screw up his life" and have, thus, imposed a series of too strict rules and check-ins for their son who was already on the path to success. Of course, Ovid finds the need to be a bit rebellious in order to prove that he does need these overbearing gestures being imposed upon him. All this is transferred to the reader through the notebook that Ovid, like his namesake, writes in. Ovid also writes about many of his classmates inside this notebook that is supposed to mirror many of the themes and characters present in the original Metamorphosis. It is a stretch of the imagination, to say the least. Betsy Franco struggles a bit with her transition into the world of young adult literature as her first novel in this genre tries too hard to capture the reality of teenage life. Instead, it becomes a series of cliches and situations typified as the quintessential high school happenings all trying to fulfill slots in a classic masterpiece. The average high school reader that would know the Metamorphosis as a work of literature would be beyond the level of this novel, while the reluctant reader looking for a "quick pick" would fall short of recognizing the parallels that Franco is looking to create.Reviewer: Jeanna Sciarrotta
VOYA - Lynn Evarts
Ovid is an ordinary high school junior with an extraordinary name. Back when his parents were much more carefree, they named him after the Roman poet, and he has paid for it his entire life. But the event that really turned his life upside down was the disappearance of his drug-addicted sister, Thena. Suddenly Ovid receives all of his parents' attention and is being forced to fulfill their frustrated ambitions for his sister. All Ovid wants is to write, draw, sculpt and hang out with his friends. And because he is Ovid, many of his friends become to him Greek characters in their own modern-day myths. Suddenly they come alive in his poetry with names like Orpheus and Proserpina and in his art, exploding out of the mouths of bears and carrying homes on their backs. Franco takes Greek mythology and morphs it into a tale for today's world, complete with mistakenly dialed cell phones and teens animating the world around them. Although the book is brief, it is not an easy read because of the literary references and the large cast of characters. The art melds well with the story and the other way around. Ultimately it is about being accepted for who you are, regardless of the century you live in. Reviewer: Lynn Evarts
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Franco pays homage to the poet Ovid's retelling of Roman myths. Her Ovid, a high school junior, is a budding, brooding artist, still reeling from the departure of his meth-addicted sister. His formerly permissive parents are smothering him with concern and attention as they desperately try to ensure that he does not travel the same road as Thena. Ovid writes poems about and draws his high school as Roman myths with students and adults playing the parts of Pluto, Midas, Athena, Ceres, Proserpina, and a host of others. Only readers well versed in mythology will catch all of the references. Mere mortals will need a handy reference source to get the full impact. The pen-and-ink drawings are interesting but sometimes border on the bizarre and don't all fit smoothly into the story. Regardless of readers' levels of knowledge of Roman religion, the story of a teen feeling imprisoned by overly concerned parents and abandoned by an addicted sibling will resonate with many young adults.—Anthony C. Doyle, Livingston High School, CA
Kirkus Reviews
Since his brilliant, meth-addict sister, Thena, ran away from home, Ovid just wants his now-overprotective parents off his back, to express his art freely, to understand why he wants to hurt himself secretly and to make sense of high school. Other juniors "wrestling with the messes the gods got us into" include musician Orpheus, obsessed with his girlfriend; incest victim Myrra, trying to find what's left of the girl in her; Alexis, a female Icarus flying too high on weed; and Sophie and Caleb, a cyber Psyche and Cupid. Like his Roman namesake, Ovid captures it all in his private notebook, filled with prose entries in realistic teenspeak, beautifully crafted poems that provide a back story and surreal black-line illustrations, which the author's son reworked from his own high-school notebooks. While the brevity of Franco's first YA novel may disappoint readers who want these archetypal yet complex characters in more detail, this accessible, modern retelling resembles the original by springing from story to story and exploring love and its ability to confound all reason. (Mythology. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763637651
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 10/13/2009
  • Pages: 128
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Lexile: HL740L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.91 (w) x 8.61 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Betsy Franco has written more than thirty books and anthologies for children. She originally wrote METAMORPHOSIS as a collection of poems, which called to mind her son Tom’s notebook and journal drawings. She lives in California.

Tom Franco has been a creative artist since the age of thirteen. The drawings in METAMORPHOSIS were created during his high-school years and reworked as a series for this book. He lives in California.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by McKenzie Tritt for

    Ovid, named after and inspired by the Roman poet, journals all of his thoughts into a notebook, adding his expressive drawings throughout. Ovid's journal tells of his high school experience, as well as his family life, from an interesting perspective.

    Through narrative, drawings, and emotional poetry, Ovid gives the reader a snapshot of his life, as well as the lives of other high school students. Each new poem reveals a different student's background and current going-ons in their life. Ovid's writing is snarky, raw, and honest.

    METAMORPHOSIS: JUNIOR YEAR was incredible. There was such honest emotion in Ovid's writing. He held nothing back, putting all of his feelings on the line. I was incredibly drawn to his poetry, each about a different high school student. These poems dug deep into the person's life and showed their secrets, unknown to others. They were truly wonderful. The drawings, often abstract, were difficult to understand at times. Ovid, however, does describe many along with their meanings, creating a clearer image of what he is expressing through them.

    Ovid also gives each student a separate identity, connecting each one to a Roman mythological character based on their personalities and struggles. Fans of mythology will love this concept. The book has a strong theme of, you guessed it, transformation. In such a short book, it's amazing how each character, including Ovid, grows and changes to become something better.

    METAMORPHOSIS: JUNIOR YEAR by author Betsy Franco is a true masterpiece. I could find absolutely nothing wrong with this book. I recommend it to all readers. This one is a must-read.

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