Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard
At the beginning of his junior year at a boys' boarding school, 16-year-old Alex is devastated when he fails to save a drowning friend. When questioned, Alex and his friend Glenn, who was also at the river, begin weaving their web of lies. Plagued by guilt, Alex takes refuge in the library, telling his tale in a journal he hides behind Moby-Dick. Caught in the web with Alex and Glenn is their English teacher, Miss Dovecott, fresh out of Princeton, who suspects there's more to what happened at the river when she perceives guilt in Alex's writing for class. She also sees poetic talent in Alex, which she encourages. As Alex responds to her attention, he discovers his true voice, one that goes against the boarding school bravado that Glenn embraces. When Glenn becomes convinced that Miss Dovecott is out to get them, Alex must choose between them.
On Paper Covers Rock, literal references, symbolism and deep, deep thoughts aside, this is not my favorite book. For starters, Alex, its sixteen year old narrator doesn’t feel like he is a sixteen year old. The story focuses on the aftermath of Thomas’ drowning, it touches a lot on what Alex sees and how he feels. And among his many, many feelings are what he feels for his English teacher.
How he put words to paper, how he put things in general showed a very introspective almost too mature voice. It’s not one I’d expect out of a teenager living in a dorm. But perhaps that was the purpose? To show how such an event (as what had happened to Thomas) could have the likes of Alex folding into himself away from the typical. That said, I felt no real connection to him because mainly, it all got a bit tiresome.
Note that it’s all really well written, all those allusions and references were clever little bonuses. How the story was told, of going from past to present and back again, while not a new things was a clever way to go.