Everyone had high expectations for Hudson Wheeler. His fourth grade teacher even wrote to his parents that Hudson was "going places." But everything went downhill after his father died on the battlefield of Iraq one year later. Now facing his senior year of high school without his two best friends by his side and with his teacher's letter still haunting him, Hudson seizes homeschooling as an opportunity to retreat from the world.
What happens during this year will prove to be anything but a retreat, as Hudson experiences love and rejection for the first time; meets the Amazonian-looking girl who shows him by example what it means to be a man; and solves the painful mystery of the “girl in the window”—an apparition seen only by the WWII vet whose poignant plight forces Hudson out of the comfort zone of boyhood.
Going Places is a peek into what male adolescence looks like today for those who don't follow traditional paths as they strive to find themselves.
|Publisher:||Amberjack Publishing Company|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 18 Years|
About the Author
Kathryn Berla likes to write in a variety of genres including light fantasy, contemporary literary fiction, and even horror. She is the author of the young adult novels: 12 Hours in Paradise, Dream Me, The House at 758, and Going Places. The Kitty Committee is her first novel written for adult readers.
Kathryn grew up in India, Syria, Europe, and Africa. Her love for experiencing new cultures runs deep, and she gives into it whenever she can. She has been an avid movie buff since childhood, and often sees the movie in her head before she writes the book.
Kathryn graduated from the University of California in Berkeley with a degree in English. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Read an Excerpt
I READ IT OVER ONE LAST TIME ...
Did I argue my point effectively? After two weeks of planning was I overthinking the whole thing? It was already the first of August, and sleeping in until noon was almost a thing of the past. The first day of school loomed like the grim reaper. I clicked SEND before time ran out and Mom's lunch break was over. Before time ran out and my summer vacation was over. Then I sat back and held my breath. Not literally, of course, even though it felt like it.
We need to talk. I was going to say something last night but decided it's better to lay it all out for you first. I have a proposal that you probably won't like, but please read this whole email before you answer.
I think I should be homeschooled this year.
These are my reasons:
(1) I only need two classes to graduate, and I've proved I work better on my own.
(2) Senior year of high school is a complete waste of time. Nobody pays attention, and half the kids don't bother showing up for class half the time.
(3) College isn't a requirement for becoming a graphic novelist, and there's no doubt in my mind now that's what I want to do when I graduate.
(4) Quentin Tarantino (famous film director) dropped out of school at the age of 15 and his mother didn't care, and look where he is now.
(5) I've done ALL the research. I downloaded ALL the paperwork. The only thing I need is your signature in a few places. I PROMISE I'll take care of EVERYTHING!!! I'm begging you to say YES!!!!
P.S. I've been thinking about this all summer so don't think it's something I just came up with.
P.P.S. And please don't think this has anything to do with a failure on your part about being a good mother, etc.
It wasn't that I was scared of Mom, who is actually a really nice and understanding person. It's just that I was scared she'd say "no," and over the past few weeks I'd managed to convince myself this was the only possible way of surviving my senior year of high school. I wasn't prepared to deal with a flat-out No. Couldn't even consider that awful possibility. What I was prepared for was a major battle that I planned on winning before the homeschool program registration deadline. So I sat in the kitchen staring at the computer screen, waiting for Mom to return fire. I checked my inbox. One new message. Top Trending Tweets. And then the dinosaur desktop froze. Instead of bolting for the laptop in my bedroom, I forced myself to take a deep breath and calmly reboot. In order to prevail against Mom, it was important to stay focused and maintain my composure. I leaned back in my chair while the computer clucked and the screen changed from white to blue to black to white again.
The kitchen. A huge part of my life had played out there. Mom hated it because she didn't have the money to update it. She claimed it taunted her every day of her life. Puke-yellow Formica counters; the rust countertop footprint of a can of baked beans; the floor that was supposed to look like a tile floor but was really just a sheet of vinyl curling up at the corners; the cabinets that never closed all the way; fluorescent lights that buzzed, flickered, and hummed like crazy; and the refrigerator — it hummed too. And rocked like it was about to fall on top of you whenever you opened it.
Taped to the refrigerator was a note. The one my fifth grade teacher sent to my parents. The one Mom refused to let me take down even after all this time. The one that taunted me every day the same way the kitchen taunted her.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler,
It isn't every day I'm motivated to write a letter like this, so I want the two of you to know just how meaningful this is. Hudson is one of those students who comes along very rarely, so I consider myself blessed to have had him in my class this year. When it comes to good citizenry, he has no peer, always ready to lend a helping hand. Hudson is extremely well-liked by both faculty and the student body. He is motivated, helpful, thinks creatively and unselfishly. You've succeeded admirably in your job of parenting to have produced such a fine young man. It's obvious to me that Hudson is going places!
I memorized the letter, that's how many times I've read it. Every time I opened the refrigerator in the last eight years looking for something to eat (at least ten times a day), there it was. Technically it should have been addressed to Major and Mrs. Wheeler because that's what Dad was, a Major in the army. But he never saw the letter. A month after Mrs. Thompson mailed it to my house, my dad was killed in Iraq. I was the student body president that year and believed what Mrs. Thompson said. I wasn't sure exactly where I was going, but I knew it would be somewhere big. Somewhere that would make me happy and make my parents proud, and I didn't mean just middle school.
But after Dad died, we went through our sad years where I sometimes had to act more grown-up than I was just to help Mom get through the day. After that, where I was going didn't seem so important anymore. We got through the sadness, of course. But the letter that used to feel like a promise began to feel like a dare. And there I was trying to disappear from school altogether. What would Mrs. Thompson think if she knew what I was doing?
The computer clucked a few more times while it finished updating. Finally, it was ready to go, and I breathed deeply as I signed back into my email account. One new message. Mom. I imagined her tapping out the response in that clumsy one-fingered way she did on the phone. Probably hyperventilating all the while. She'd put herself through nursing school and wouldn't be able to understand why anyone would turn their back on the luxury of being educated without having to work. To her, school wasn't just important, it was everything.
Is this about Cameron?
WHAT??? Of course not!!!!!
Okay, it wasn't just about Cameron, it was about Griffin too. My two best friends since grade school until last year when Griffin transferred to the school across town after his family bought a new house. And then to make matters worse, Cameron fell into a ridiculously serious relationship with a girl I didn't even like. When you grow up as a threesome so close you're almost brothers, there's a co-dependency that's hard to see your way out of. I couldn't wish Griffin back into his old house, and wishing for Cameron to break up with his girlfriend only made me feel evil, which I probably was.
But if I admitted all of that to Mom, she'd go on a whole rant about making new friends and joining clubs to meet new people. All the stuff that sounds so great to parents when they're lecturing you. The reality is something else. Something parents just don't get. You can't reinvent yourself when you're a senior in high school. Everyone knows that.
I was so done with school and couldn't see its relevancy to my life anymore. Homeschooling would be cool. I hadn't really thought out what I'd do with all my free time while Mom was at work, but I did have a pile of graphic novels to get through, and I wanted to write and illustrate one of my own. So maybe Mom didn't exactly like the idea of me lying around all day reading my "comic books," as she called them, much to my annoyance.
Well I think it is. But in any case, the way I see it is we both have our jobs. Mine is being a nurse. Yours is being a student.
She tried to reason with me, but for every point she made, I already had three counter-points ready to lob back at her. After the first week, she realized I was serious. After the second week, she actually started listening to me. After the third week (just in time, because school was about to start) she finally surrendered. I was nothing if not persuasive when it came to Mom. I sometimes still caught her staring at the letter on the refrigerator that promised I was "going places," and maybe she really believed it. But it wasn't total surrender. She had her conditions, so we drew up a contract which we both signed.
Hudson Wheeler promises to take the following classes at La Costa High during this upcoming school year:
He also promises to apply to two (2) colleges for which he has a reasonable chance of being accepted.
From this day forward he will pay rent on the first of the month in the amount of $200.
Signed: Deborah Wheeler, Hudson Wheeler
The art class was required due to the fact that my mother was worried about me having zero social interaction with my peers. Taking a class in something I loved and was good at, she thought would go down easier. She probably also secretly hoped it would help to increase my self-esteem which was something she worried about a lot.
P.E. was required because she didn't want me to turn into a couch potato. Her philosophy was that everyone needed to get out and do something active for at least an hour each day. But since P.E. was an elective for seniors, I had a lot of choices. I chose yoga, the main reason being the favorable female-to-male ratio. This would ensure two things: 1. No competition against guys in a physical way. That never worked out very well for me in the past. 2. I still had a wild hope of doing something (anything) with a girl (any girl) before graduating from high school.
The two college applications and the rent ... that was Mom hoping I'd come to my senses before it was too late.
I wasn't that same kid who inspired Mrs. Thompson to write the refrigerator note all those years ago. Fate had played a couple of dirty tricks on me over the years. But in the beginning of my final year of high school, I had a renewed sense of hopefulness. I felt light. Free. As I roamed the hallways of school on my first day, I felt like an adult in a sea of children. I could leave and go home in just a few hours. And I felt something else I hadn't felt in a long time. Excitement about my future.
The first day of school arrived without the usual pit in my stomach. Only two classes meant I'd be in and out in less than two hours. I could actually wait to eat breakfast until after getting home.
Nothing was going to ruin the high I had walking into yoga class. Except maybe Gus Ligety. There he was, posed on his yoga mat like Buddha, surrounded by girls. Girls. Girls. And more girls. Girls dressed in skintight outfits — some of them really revealing. Sleepy-eyed girls. Sleek-haired girls. An ocean of girls. I tried my best to block out Gus and the two other guys in the room. They weren't exactly chick-magnet types of guys, but then neither was I. The guys those girls really wanted to be with wouldn't be caught dead in a yoga class. Later in the year, those same guys would make a point to stop and stare into our classroom, pointing and laughing at us (me and Gus) until the teacher turned around and shooed them away with a dirty look.
When I arrived (late) to class, everyone was already lotus-style on three neatly spaced rows of yoga mats. I realized two things:
(1) As an unfairly vertically-challenged male, being barefoot in class did nothing to disguise my short stature. Unfairly, I say, because my father was tall. But my mom's short, and at seventeen I was taking after her in that department.
(2) The loose basketball shorts I had on weren't going to cut it in yoga class. Even Gus knew that. He was decked out in what I assumed were men's yoga pants — at least they were long and didn't slide away to reveal everything no guy wants to show at school. I did some fast thinking and made a decision to take my place all the way in the back, hidden behind two rows of girls from the teacher's forward facing view.
"Hud-man!" Gus called out, prompting a harsh look from Ms. Senger, our youngish and semi-hot instructor. "What's up, bro? Come sit over here with me. We dudes have to stick together."
Ms. Senger brought a slender finger up to her pursed lips.
"Wheeler." Why was I stupidly late on my first day? I was breaking my own rule of blending into the background. I'd known since middle school that you don't call attention to yourself by walking into a classroom late.
"Mr. Wheeler, please find a space. There are mats in the back."
I unrolled a mat and inserted myself between two girls who giggled while they moved aside to let me squeeze in.
Once seated, I could check out everyone else from the safe vantage point of the back of the room. It was a beginner's class so I assumed everyone was going to be as lame as me, but I knew the girls had an advantage when it came to flexibility. Gus, I knew, unfortunately since pre-school. He seemed to have a magic mirror that gave him confidence beyond anything he deserved. He was annoying but basically a nice guy in very small doses.
Directly to my left was a girl I knew by the name of Alana Love. She showed up in my Art History class late in our junior year with her messy dirty-blonde hair that looked like it'd never met a brush. Not in a bad way, don't get me wrong. Definitely sexy. She also had big, expressive puppy eyes. Or maybe they were kitten eyes. The rest of her face — some of it worked, and some of it didn't. Her nose was a little wide, her lips were a little thin, and she had a couple of zits on her chin. She also had a tattoo on one side of her neck: a flowering vine of purples and pinks. The first time I saw it I actually thought it was a bruise, like someone had tried to strangle her. Over time, I came to admire it, and my own bare neck seemed naked in comparison. Other kids at school had tattoos but none as out-there as Alana's.
Sitting next to her, I could smell Alana, and she smelled really nice. All in all, she was the kind of girl you could fantasize about, even though for me that was just about any girl with most body parts intact. A girl named Penelope was on my other side. In different circumstances, she might have been the object of my desire, but with Alana Love so close, Penelope didn't stand a chance.
Ms. Senger led us through the Sukhasana, the cat-cow pose, the tree pose, and some others I don't remember. By the time we were through I was really feeling it. And it didn't help that I had to constantly pull my shorts down over my knees. Gus groaned loudly, but I tried to suck it up for the benefit of Alana Love, not wanting her to think I was one of those guys. Inflexible. Looking for an easy A or an easy girl. I wanted her to respect me, so I threw myself into every pose and promised myself the next day would be easier. I'd stretch before class and wear sweat pants instead of shorts. Were our seating assignments permanent? I hoped so.
TWENTY MINUTES IS A LONG TIME ...
... between classes if you think about how much stuff happens in the regular passing period which is only five minutes. Entire lives change during passing period. Relationships begin. People get dumped. Weekend parties are planned. With the extra fifteen minutes between zero and first period, I'd already changed out of my yoga clothes and was walking to art class while most of the seniors were still cruising the senior lot looking for a place to park.
"Wait up, Hud-man!" Gus jogged up from behind just as I was closing the gap between myself and Alana, who was about ten paces ahead.
"Do me a favor, Gus," I began. Was I being a jerk because of my empty stomach? Or the fact that Gus just ruined my next move with Alana (which wasn't exactly planned out to be honest)? "Don't call me Hud-man and I won't call you ..."
"Call me what?"
We walked in silence long enough for Gus to notice Alana in front of us. He nudged me in the ribs with his elbow, which succeeded in making me even crankier.
"You going to hit that?" he asked way too loud.
"Hit what?" The hungry pit in my stomach turned to nausea.
"You know." He nudged me again and I pushed his arm away. "That." He motioned with his chin towards Alana who was possibly within hearing distance. At that moment, I was grateful the human ear points forward, not back.
"No, I'm not going to hit that," I whispered hoarsely.
"Mind if I do?"
He didn't wait for my answer. "How'd you like yoga today?" he bellowed at Alana's back. The vine on the side of her neck twisted as she turned to look behind her. "Bet you're feeling pretty sore."
"Oh hey," she said. I desperately wanted to protect her from his lunacy without identifying myself as his friend but saw no way out. "It was fun," she smiled. "Easy. I've been doing yoga since I was ten."
Excerpted from "Going Places"
Copyright © 2018 Kathryn Berla.
Excerpted by permission of Amberjack Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Won E-Book on BookishFirst.com through NetGalley.com. I wasn't sure about this book when I read the excerpt but decided I would try and win it and give it a go. Well, I was surprised! It was actually pretty good and not just about a kid trying to get out of high school! It was about a kid trying to get out of high school, trying to find his way, and growing up. There was a LOT of different things happening in this book and it could've been incredibly confusing but it all flowed pretty well and the end result was good. I knew SOMETHING was going to happen, I just didn't know what or when! I didn't know where things were going with Mr. Pirkle, I didn't know where things were going with Alana, I didn't know where things were going with Fritzy, I didn't know where things were going with Hudson's graphic novel! But the point was that they all went into shaping Hudson! Great culmination.
When I started reading this, I really didn't know how I would like it, since it was by an author I hadn't heard of, but I really enjoyed this. There was a lot to it, it was deep, and it was the kind of book that I would read again it was so good! The characters in the book were my favorite part - being as this was an incredibly character driven book, I expected them to have to be well written, and I was right, they were. They were deep, well fleshed out, and really exciting. The way the author wrote them in the story helped it pop right off the pages and bring it to life. The writing style was really captivating and exciting, too - I felt like I couldn't put this one down until I had read the whole book!
Hudson's future once looked promising, he even has a letter from one of his former teachers saying that he's going places. Now that he's a high school senior Hudson isn't so sure about this. After the death of his father Hudson stopped caring about a successful future. He sees homeschooling as the ideal solution to stop dealing with teenage drama. In exchange Hudson has to take two classes at the local high school and he has to pay his mother rent. To make money Hudson starts two businesses, dog walking and an SOS service for seniors. Is this really as uneventful as he expected it to be? Hudson meets new people. One of them, a client, is a marine veteran who fought during WWII. He also spends a lot of time with an athletic girl who's trying to get him in shape. Hudson has fallen in love with someone from his school, but will he be able to win the girl's heart? While dealing with the demands of his customers and making new friends Hudson's life becomes full and meaningful and Hudson is forced to grow up quickly, which isn't how he envisioned his senior year. Has he made the right choices? Going Places is a fabulous story. Hudson is talented and smart, but he doesn't have the same goals and dreams most other teenagers have. Staying home to study and work might seem like the easy way out, but it's actually one big life lesson. Hudson needs to take responsibility. There's hardly any adult guidance, he has to make the decisions and hard work is the only way forward. Staying home to study makes his senior year unusual, but eventful. I loved everything he comes across. He learns about love, friendship, taking care of others and doing the right thing in a wonderful open and honest way that never feels forced. I liked that a lot and for me that made Going Places a true gem. Kathryn Berla has a gorgeous writing style that is easy to read. I love her vivid descriptions of emotions, people and settings. I could effortlessly picture everything she writes about. I read Going Places in one sitting, it's a beautiful heartfelt story. I love it when a book manages to move me so much. Hudson is a fantastic original main character and I enjoyed reading about his friendships and the obstacles he has to overcome. Going Places is a terrific story that I highly recommend.
The color and style of the cover made me think this was a middle-grade book, but I was pleasantly surprised when I read the blurb and discovered it's YA! The concept of a high schooler wanting to be homeschooled isn't one that I've come across often. Blended with the anxieties and relatability of being a teenager, the novel deftly addresses the many faces of loss, and how far the effects of that loss can reach. Hudson's narration is engaging—whether he's cajoling his mother or fending off Gus, his emotions are laid right there on the table and it's super easy for me as a reader to get in his head. I like the theme of living up to childhood potential—it's easy to see how this could make a teenager feel pressured and claustrophobic from the weight of "going places"...or make them feel like a gigantic failure for falling short. This theme is explored brilliantly through Hudson's snappy, unintentionally humorous narration. The only thing that kind of bothered me was that Hudson was clearly being a little scammy with his scheme to be an emergency contact for elderly people who might need to call him for something just short of an actual emergency. He even says he hoped they'd just keep paying him a monthly fee without actually calling him, so he wouldn't have to do any work! On one hand...ingenious. On the other, feels a little like he's preying on their fear of being alone/not having anyone local to call for support.
Going Places by Kathryn Berla is a young adult novel about a boy trying to find himself on the cusp of becoming an adult with all the expectations thrust upon him and yet he is still trying to find himself when the past won’t let go. Following the story of Hudson Wheeler, an 18 year old young man, senior in high school, who is trying desperately to be the man of the house while still trying to cope with the thoughts of his father being gone. His father died several years ago while active duty in the Marines, and this has never left him more uncertain of his future. Hudson wants nothing more than to become a graphic novelist, and is willing to go from public school to home schooling if it allows him more time to draw. His mother, who is still attempting to pick up the pieces after her husband’s death, is willing to indulge Hudson as long as he can show he is working and contributing to the house while finishing school. Along his journey Hudson falls in love, meets Fritzy – a girl who will teach him about being a man, and a WWII vet who teaches him to grow up. Going Places is told in the male narrator, Hudson, and really gives a great insight to a time when life is so uncertain for most teens and how his life changes over and over in such a short amount of time. Seeing topics like losing a parent, first love, best friends and even first voyage into adulthood was such a breath of fresh air to me. I have read other works by Berla in the past, and have loved every one of them, this book is no exception. Strikingly poignant, honest and raw, Going Places is definitely a great read for anyone who is unsure of their life’s path, falling in love for the first time, or even just taking a trip down memory lane. Berla is definitely an author to keep your eye on!
Going Places by Kathryn Berla is the first book I have read by this writer. I was a feeling a bit unsure when reading the synopsis thinking it might be a traditional angsty high school story but boy, was a wrong! Going Places is the story of Hudson and his senior year of high school. There are quite a few interesting characters that are interwoven into his life. Obviously there is quite a bit of high school angst that we all experienced when in high school but there is so much more than the first love, first unrequited love, lack of true friends, angst about the future … but then there is also mystery, aspiration, entrepreneurship and unexpected friendships … The writer has given us characters that we can believe in and root for … it is hard to write contemporary and something that is set in our daily world and that pull us in and is NOT ONLY about teenage romance! She really gets us into Hudson’s head that makes us think and feel along with him! Well done!
Going Places by Kathryn Berla is the story of a young entrepreneur and striving artist Hudson Wheeler and his foray into adulthood. He is learning how to navigate love, life and friendships and serious issues like Elderly dementia. All while striking out and trying to gain independence during his senior year of high school. This book unlike the title didn’t seem to be going anywhere the storyline was very long and drawn out and very slow moving. While the story is pleasant to read there just seems to be too much detail which holds it back. Personally not one of my favorites from this author.
I got to read a little excerpt of this from bookishfirst, but I was a little unsure if I wanted to read it. As someone who was homeschooled, a lot of books don't really do it justice in my opinion. While this one doesn't really talk about the homeschooling part of Hudson's year, it does mention how much work he does have to do (which is true) and how things can be changed for your interests as long as they follow certain guidelines. For me, it was nice to see that in a book, as well as Hudson still having a social life, and being able to do things. (This was in part because of him still being able to take a couple classes at his high school.) I also liked how we saw Hudson grow and change throughout this book. He is quite the entrepreneur and I really liked that. He has a dog walking business and another business that helps the older generation. This is something that I really loved seeing because a lot of young people are afraid of old people for some reason. So it was really nice to see him not be afraid of them, and actually trying to help them with things. He was never short on patience with them and was just truly caring. There were a few times that I was like no Hudson you have to go and see what that is even though it's late, but he did do very well in my opinion for the situation he was in. I loved his friend Fritzy, and she was just so good in my opinion with putting him in his place, and just generally helping him become a better person. I could have done without a certain character and just didn't really care for what she brought to Hudson's life after awhile. Overall I really liked this book and enjoyed reading it. It was a quick read, and it did deal with several different topics that we're all handled really well in my opinion. I highly recommend this book if you're looking for a quick read.
Going Places by Kathryn Berla is an emotional Young Adult story. This is not my first book by this author, it does rank up there in my favorites of hers. I enjoyed this book and the creative plot this author has written. She has created an emotional character that has been through quite a bit. The characters will take you on an emotional roller coaster ride that had lots of ups and downs. This is a story about a young man who when he was in fifth grade was told he was “Going Places”. He is now a senior in high school. He has two classes left so he convinces his mother to let him be home schooled. He also is trying to be a business owner with two other businesses. Of course, being the young man he is, he wants a girlfriend. This is a story that takes you through his life during this time and what he went through. I wasn't sure about his character when I started reading this book until about half way through when some of my opinion changed. He is a young man that is hurting and a little lonely. In parts I just wanted to reach out and hug him in parts. Other parts I wanted to scream at him to just get over it. The secondary characters in this book are also strong and left me a little curious about them. They do help make this story easy flowing and a page turner. I highly recommend this book. Find out what happens to these young adults as they fight their way through adolescences.
His fifth grade teacher told him he was “going places”, but Hudson starts doubting himself. In his final year of high school, he doesn’t want to pursue the traditional path. Since he only needs to attend two classes, his mother agrees to let him be “homeschooled” for the rest of the time. But, with his school work, setting up a couple of home businesses, working on his graphic novel, and trying to get a girlfriend, this year is going to be anything but easy. This is a true coming-of-age story, cute, funny, sad, poignant, and uplifting all at the same time. There’s even a bit of suspense/mystery thrown in. The (female) author does a remarkable job of taking us into the mind of a teenage boy. Hudson has a very engaging voice and is extremely likable. He is accompanied by a cast of colorful characters, including those of the canine variety. I especially loved Jennifer, the hot pink male poodle! The book is beautifully written, and I love the slow build. However, the ending feels a bit rushed. I would love to have spent more time with these characters. Warnings: coarse language, sexual references, sex scene (not graphic). I received this book in return for an honest review. Full blog post (27 March): https://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com/2018/03/going-places-by-kathryn-berla.html
Hudson Wheeler feels the weight of his mom's and teacher's expectation to "go somewhere" in life, and spends the majority of his senior year trying to gain traction. Unfortunately, this book wallowed almost as much as Hudson, with the first 2/3 spent delivering an aimless storyline with no indication of what the overarching plot was supposed to be (other than bewilderment, which it nailed, but in the wrong way). The last third pulled it up to three stars for me, as we finally see some of the story threads pull together, including his attempts at romance, new friendships, and half-business/half-mentorship interactions with an elderly veteran in the neighborhood. It's the final point that was particularly compelling for me, and if the whole book had been written with the poignant heart and emotion of Hudson's last chapters involving Mr. Pirkle I would have enjoyed it much more.
Going Places is about a teenager named Hudson. For his senior year of high school he decides he wants to be homeschooled and start a couple of businesses that he think will be easy money. We follow Hudson along his journey in finding himself and meeting some quirky characters along the way. Going Places was not a book that grabbed my attention and left me feeling bored. The pacing was very slow which seemed to make the whole book drag on. It also didn't help that I thought the story was very repetitive so it didn't make for a very exciting read and it felt like it was going nowhere. It did seem to speed up a little near the end of the book which was very welcome at this point. For a book that was slow moving the entire way through the ending felt very rushed and cobbled together. This story is told through Hudson's point of view who is 17/18 but it felt like he was so much younger and I would forget that he was that age.
One of the most surprising things about this book is that the author is female, and yet it seems as if she may completely understand the thoughts and actions of a teen-age boy. The main character, Hudson, is a high school senior who has lots of plans for his life and doesn’t want to waste time going to school. He’s had several losses in his life: his father died when he was younger, one friend moved away and the other one is so wrapped up in a relationship, he doesn’t have time for him friend anymore. After talking his mom into letting him be home schooled, He is told he has to take at least two classes at school. While trying to enlarge his dog walking and caring for seniors businesses, and finishing his schoolwork, he really wants a girl friend; however, in the typical high school hierarchy he is sure that the popular girls won’t like him. This is a light-hearted look at the growing-up years. If you are an adult, you will probably smile as it brings back memories.
"Going Places" has all the makings of a good 'coming of age' novel where the main character, Hudson, learns to overcome the pain of losing his father and the nuances of adolescence. Kathryn Berla does an excellent job of building Hudson's character in the first pages. He's a solid, solemn young man with a reserved group of friends. I like that Berla attributed Hudson with the aspiration of wanting to be a graphic novelist as reading graphic novels and mangas are becoming an increasing pastime with readers. Additionally, the characters are relatable and the plot is developed well. I really liked the tone and the environment of the novel. It feels like a cozy, curl up kind of book for an afternoon read.
Going Places Hudson Wheeler is going places. At least that is what a former teacher wrote in a letter to his parents that is hanging on his refrigerator. Now he is entering his senior year with no big plans other than to become a graphic novelist. He convinces his mom to let him be home-schooled and she agrees with the stipulation that he still take two classes at school for socialization. He has to pay rent, so he starts two businesses (dog-walking and an on-call service for senior citizens). At first I was not a fan of Hudson. He comes across as lazy in that his businesses are designed to make money while doing the least amount of work possible and he wants to be home-schooled because senior year is a joke. However, as the book progresses, he is a great character and I found myself cheering for him. He is the type of person that flies under the radar in most high schools (nonathletic, does not take part in activities, not overly confident), but once you get to know this person there is a lot more to them that meets the eye.
Well written and started off intriguing. I also thought it was interesting to have a male teenager narrator, kind of rare. Once it's revealed what the story is about it lost my interest a little bit but it is well written so when I'm in the mood for a light read I'd see where the story goes. The characters introduced are interesting enough with subtle depth which I appreciated. A bunch of themes were introduced that could be interesting to explore, male friendships, homeschooling, growing up with a single parent, dealing with loss and especially how it would affect a boy in his teenage years. I wonder if homeschooling is solely a way of escaping... I guess I was intrigued after all! Not a bad start