Thursday, September 22, 2011
Also Known as Rowan Pohi by Ralph Fletcher
Bobby Steele and his pals, Marcus and Big Poobs, all public school kids from working class backgrounds, are waiting for tenth grade to start when they come across an application form for Whitestone Academy, a prestigious and posh private school. Just for giggles, they decide that a nonexistent kid should apply—and so Rowan Pohi is born. (Named for their favorite hangout, Pohi is IHOP spelled backwards.) Amazingly enough, the phantom Rowan is accepted at Whitestone. Eager to escape the boredom of public school and his unhappiness at home,
Bobby shows up at Whitestone’s new student orientation, reinventing himself as Rowan. He begins a suspenseful career as an impostor, hoping that the two worlds he’s living in will stay separate forever. For a short, exhilarating time, they do. Ralph Fletcher’s signature light touch in addressing serious issues in young people’s lives is evident in this story of identity lost and found.
Also Known as Rowan Pohi is a quick read- but that same fact doesn't make it an easy one. A couple of moments had me fanning suspiciously damp eyes. And for what? A teenage boy's made up alter ego? The same boy working out the aftermath of his mother leaving? Or was it, the same boy working out things with his dad?
Mostly, it's that last item... a lot of the things between them hit very close to home. Like Bobby, I could be judgmental... but like Bobby, there's also a moment when one just has to go, 'He is who he is.'
Bobby isn't perfect at all. He lies, on paper and to almost everyone's face... but I could forgive him, if not completely, then a little. Simply because he and his had gone through so much already. Add the fact that I couldn't help but admire how clearly he thought of himself and his situation... and how accepting he was of his mother's choice.
As to his father, I think what happened to him is what I found missing in SPLIT. Bobby senior dealt with the consequences of his actions. I have to respect that. Another thing that struck me was Bobby's thoughts on before's and after's. That his after left him absolutely aware of who his father was and what he could do.
But there were heartwarming moments too.. especially between brothers. I loved that he loved Cody! Even when faced with the hard things, the big brother in him came through. But it was the simple things of reading a bed time story or shopping when inconvenient that warmed Bobby to me. Then add the fact that he is a goofball. Proof? What other proof than he and his friends coming up with an alter ego and him becoming the same?
It's quick, quirky but not always easy...
Thanks Net Galley!