Or Notby Brian Mandabach
When 14 year-old Cassie Sullivan-smart, sensitive, and perceptive-stands up for her beliefs, the flagpole Christian majority decides she's the school Antichrist. Cassie had no idea defending Darwin and refusing to sing "Proud to be an American" would be such a big deal. But it's a brave new world of post-9/11 paranoia in her über-conservative Colorado school.
When 14 year-old Cassie Sullivan-smart, sensitive, and perceptive-stands up for her beliefs, the flagpole Christian majority decides she's the school Antichrist. Cassie had no idea defending Darwin and refusing to sing "Proud to be an American" would be such a big deal. But it's a brave new world of post-9/11 paranoia in her über-conservative Colorado school. Trying to stay cool while the torments increase, Cassie wonders if anything is really worth it. Taking solace in her journal, she begins to question if simply being is what she really wants. Or Not?
Gr 9 Up- Eighth-grader Cassie Sullivan is big for her age, physically and intellectually. She has strong opinions: She hates WWJD bracelets and NCLB-driven standardized tests. She rejects cell phones, CDs, and MP3s, but adores her vinyl record collection. She also loves visiting her family's place in the Colorado mountains, gazing up at the stars and thinking about infinity. She believes that the world is almost certainly more than 6000 years old; that things with faces probably shouldn't be eaten; and that war, despite any trumpeted reasoning, is still just a sad human failing. At the beginning of the school year she defends evolution and finds herself, as she starts the first of the 11 journals that comprise this diary novel, ostracized from-and bullied by-most of her classmates, who begin calling her Cassie the Antichrist. Her refusal to sing "America the Beautiful" in choir earns her the name Osama O'Sullivan. With some help from her brother's college-age girlfriend and a compassionate GT teacher, Cassie considers a scheme to skip through her current hell and jump directly to high school, all the time wondering "is it worth it? Is anything worth it?" Librarians will want to slip this excellent and therapeutic selection to precocious early teens facing similar alienation, depression, and bullying issues. Just be aware that there is frank language and references to drug and alcohol use.-Jeffrey Hastings, Highlander Way Middle School, Howell, MICopyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
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Meet the Author
Brian Mandabach teaches writing to teens in Colorado. He has been a public school teacher for over a decade. Or Not is his first novel.
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Cassie is my hero. She is an intelligent non-conformist who is stuck in junior high.
...OR NOT? starts with the summer before Cassie goes into eighth grade. It is told through Cassie's journal. She lives with her mom and dad and has a brother in college. They live in Colorado and have a rustic cabin, which she loves, in the mountains. Her family walks to a different drummer, with her father being a lawyer and her mother a musician.
They are a family who talks at the dinner table of politics and philosophy. They enjoy being together, especially at the cabin. That is where Cassie would like to be always. She loves the mountains and all of nature. She really is at home there.
Cassie doesn't fit in at school, though. She is odd because she really doesn't care about the things that her classmates care about. Her style of dress is different and she shaves off her hair, but doesn't shave her legs. She has fits of depression and thoughts of suicide. During her eighth-grade year she finally finds a group of friends. But before that she must endure religious intolerance, paranoia, and horrible bullying.
The school officials were ineffective, which made me sad but is also realistic because I teach school and it can be a minefield. Cassie discovers and learns to really love herself by the end of the novel and it is a truly wondrous ride. I recommend this book if you really don't fit, but even if you do you might learn something about how the other half feels. I laughed, cried, and couldn't wait to hear what would happen to Cassie. ...OR NOT? is also well-written. It's always nice when the story is great and the writing superb!
You have to buy this book for your teen...it is fantastic..!