Thursday, November 12, 2009


Giles, Gail. Shattering Glass. Simon Pulse, 2003 (c2002). 215 p. PBK $7.99 ISBN 978-0689858000

"Rob, the charismatic leader of the senior class, provokes unexpected violence when he turns the school nerd into Prince Charming."

SUMMARY: Rob is the new kid and an instant hit with everyone - charming, good-looking, sensitive, fun...a real people person. It's his idea to make the school dork, Simon, into the popular kid - but his goal to get Simon voted as "Class Favorite" at the end of the year turns out badly. There are all kinds of mind games going on along the way. Young, the narrator, and his group of friends are entwined in the middle of a business much more sinister than they could have predicted, and see their worst selves come out as a result, in hatred and violence.

RISKS: Violence, descriptions of sexual activity, sexual abuse, vulgar language

EVALUATION: In this suspenseful, psychological thriller, readers are gradually led through the story of a high school con man, Rob, and his innocent friend, Young, and the school outcast, Simon, who are both manipulated by his disingenuous actions. Constructed in a unique montage-type blending of past, present and future, Giles' novel shifts between multiple perspectives. More sophisticated readers may detect a subtle, political critique woven into the strands of Giles' narrative: do the ends justify the means? Rob, in other words, seems like nothing so much as a corrupted political leader, someone who has gained the trust of those around him only to exploit those relationships for the sake of maintaining his power. The manipulations are sometimes hard to read, but viewed in the context of larger societal problems, Shattering Glass begins to take on a special kind of cultural relevance.

READER'S ANNOTATION: In trying to help out the least popular kid in school, Rob seems to be doing something very noble. But when his methods become controlling and manipulative, Rob's friends have to decide just how much they'll let him get away with.

TOPICS: high schools; popularity; bullying; manipulation; sexual abuse; friendship; sex & sexuality; violence

AWARDS: California: Young Reader Medal Nominees, 2007; California: Young Reader Medal Winners, 2007; Illinois: Lincoln Award Nominees, 2007; Indiana: Eliot Rosewater Award Nominees, 2007; Virginia: Readers' Choice Award Nominees, 2007; Georgia: Georgia Peach Award Nominees, 2006; Maryland: Black-eyed Susan Award Nominees, 2006; ALA Popular Paperbacks, 2005; South Carolina: YA Book Award Nominees, 2005; Texas: Tayshas Reading List, 2004; ALA Best Books for Young Adults, 2003; ALA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 2003

Ages 12-17

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