Genre: Social Issues

IB Tour: Q&A with Concentr8 author

Posted January 28, 2016 by Emily in Blog Tour / 1 Comment

IB Tour: Q&A with Concentr8 author

IB Tour: Q&A with Concentr8 authorConcentr8 by William Sutcliffe
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on January 19th 2016
Genres: Social Issues, Dystopian
Pages: 256
Buy on Amazon

In a future London, Concentr8 is a prescription drug intended to help kids with ADD. Soon every troubled teen is on it. It makes sense, doesn't it? Keep the undesirable elements in line. Keep people like us safe from people like them. What's good for society is good for everyone. Troy, Femi, Lee, Karen and Blaze have been taking Concentr8 as long as they can remember. They're not exactly a gang, but Blaze is their leader, and Troy has always been his quiet, watchful sidekick - the only one Blaze really trusts. They're not looking for trouble, but one hot summer day, when riots break out across the city, they find it. What makes five kids pick a man seemingly at random - a nobody, he works in the housing department, doesn't even have a good phone - hold a knife to his side, take him to a warehouse and chain him to a radiator? They've got a hostage, but don't really know what they want, or why they've done it. And across the course of five tense days, with a journalist, a floppy-haired mayor, a police negotiator, and the sinister face of the pharmaceutical industry, they - and we - begin to understand why ...This is a book about what how we label children. It's about how kids get lost and failed by the system. It's about how politicians manipulate them. Gripping and controversial reading for fans of Malorie Blackman and Patrick Ness.

Please tell us about yourself.

IÂ’m forty-four and I live in Edinburgh, Scotland, with my wife and three children.

Do you have any pets?

We have a cat called Moses, on account of his white beard. My son has two axolotls, who are very strange creatures indeed.

What is your favorite ice cream?

Chocolate, of course.

What are your five favorite books or series?

I always find it very hard to answer this question, but five of my favorite YA novels are:
Holes – Louis Sachar
In Darkness – Nick Lake
The following three arenÂ’t published as YA, but I was a teenager before YA was invented as a separate category, and these are probably the three books that made the biggest impression on me as teenager:
Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
The Cement Garden – Ian McEwan
The Secret Dairy of Adrian Mole – Sue Townsend

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

I didnÂ’t become a committed reader until I was in my mid-teens, and I think that as soon as I fell in love with reading I wanted to be a writer.

Who is your favorite writer?

Impossible to choose just one. I love writers who manage to be funny and serious at the same time: Philip Roth, Joseph Heller, Jonathan Franzen, Jennifer Egan . . . the list goes on.

Tell us about your book.

There are many great schools and many great teachers, but successive recent governments seem to be obsessed with over-examining children in order to achieve measurable success according to the narrow parameters of international competitiveness. Teachers are being given less and less scope to teach in the way they want to teach, and children less opportunity to have a childhood. People who donÂ’t comply with behavioural norms are likely to have their problems medicalized, and to be pressurised into taking ADHD medication, which offers no benefit over the long term.

We tell ourselves that we are increasingly tolerant as a society, but the burgeoning growth of ADHD suggests to me that we are in fact becoming more rigid, and less tolerant of those people who have difficulty spending childhood and adolescence sitting behind a desk. Many adults know they arenÂ’t cut out for office work, and find productive and successful careers in practical, physical work. Children with this psychological make-up are likely to be branded as failures, and (under the banner of ADHD) unjustly labelled as somehow mentally defective.

The fact that parents are incentivised into giving powerful ADHD drugs to their children by the British welfare system also struck me as scandalous. The idea of a state that pays parents to drug children struck me as a something out of science fiction rather than a plausible political reality. I wanted to write a novel using this premise that started off seeming like the former, but as you read, reveals itself to be closer to the latter.
– Was Concentr8 inspired by an event or a person?

A while ago I spent a year doing voluntary work as a mentor to a teenager who had lived a very difficult life in a London housing project. This book doesnÂ’t tell his story, but his voice, intelligence and spirit are alive in the character of Troy.

Did you base Concentr8 off of anyone or thing in your own life?

It all started from a conversation with a friend of mine who is a child psychiatrist, who one evening told me about the pressure she was under to prescribe Ritalin to kids who she felt wouldnÂ’t necessarily benefit from it. The more she told me about the ADHD epidemic, the more horrified I became. I began to read about the subject, and the idea soon bubbled up for a novel which is in some ways a satire on the ADHD phenomenon.

I have written an article for The Independent, a British newspaper, explaining why I think the $9bn per year ADHD industry does not have the best interests of children at heart. A link is here: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/adhd-being-different-is-not-an-illness-a6757276.html

ABOUT WILLIAM SUTCLIFFE:

William Sutcliffe c. Maggie O'FarrellWilliam Sutcliffe is the author of the young adult novel The Wall, which was published in 2013 to much critical acclaim, including being short-listed for the 2014 Carnegie Medal and long-listed for the 2013 Guardian Fiction Prize. He also wrote five adult novels, including the international bestseller, Are You Experienced, and a middle-grade novel, Circus of Thieves                                                                                               and the Raffle of Doom. William currently lives in                                                                                       Edinburgh.

LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | iBooks | The Book Depository

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Review: 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Posted December 14, 2015 by Emily in Review / 1 Comment

Review: 13 Reasons Why by Jay AsherThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Published by Razorbill on June 14th 2011
Genres: Fiction, Social Issues
Format: Paperback
Source: library
Buy on Amazon
four-stars

You can't stop the future. You can't rewind the past. The only way to learn the secret. . . is to press play.
Clay Jensen doesn't want anything to do with the tapes Hannah Baker made. Hannah is dead. Her secrets should be buried with her.
Then Hannah's voice tells Clay that his name is on her tapes-- and that he is, in some way, responsible for her death.
All through the night, Clay keeps listening. He follows Hannah's recorded words throughout his small town. . .
. . .and what he discovers changes his life forever.

This book was a tragedy. There’s no two ways about that. When the book starts, the main character is already gone. She killed herself. All that’s left are the reasons behind it. The 13 Reasons Why, a baker’s dozen of reasons that explain why she made this terrible final decisions, in her own words. Hannah made cassette tapes, one side for every reason, to explain herself. Every reason is also a person who had something to do with Hannah’s decision. When Clay Jensen receives the tapes, he realizes that he is one of the 13 people who will get to hear Hannah’s last words because, according to her, he caused them.

This book was an easy read. The flow is beautiful. The chapters are cassette sides, one for every person/reason. The narrative switches between Hannah, on the tapes, and Clay’s thoughts in present time. Its easy to tell who is who because Hannah is in italics. However this book is also a terrible, difficult read due to the subject matter. Hannah is subjected to terrible bullying in the form of rumors and gossip. This book paints an ugly picture about how one rumor snowballs and can change the direction of a life.

Throughout the course of the book, from Hannah’s point of view, its easy to see how everything piles up on her. From her point of view, there are no other options. Nothing is ever going to get better. She’s completely lost. Hearing her story and her thoughts are so sad but also eye opening. Do any of us really know what’s going on inside of someone else? I don’t want to post any spoilers, but the straw that breaks the camels back for Hannah was number 13. It broke my heart.

This book doesn’t leave any hope for Hannah. At the very beginning she is already gone. However, her tapes and her legacy will live on. After hearing her tapes, everyone who listens is changed forever. I know I am. While Hannah might be gone, this book definitely makes me hope for the future.

Not the cheeriest of topic, but an important one. One worth reading.

four-stars

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Review: The 5 Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

Review: The 5 Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson Published by Simon Pulse on January 20th 2015 Genres: Young Adult, Social Issues, Death & Dying, Boys & Men, Comics & Graphic Novels, General Pages: 336 Source: Free for Review Goodreads Andrew Brawley was supposed to die that night. His parents did, and so did his sister, but he survived. Now he lives in the hospital. He serves food in the cafeteria, he hangs out with the nurses, and he sleeps in a forgotten supply closet. Drew blends in to near invisibility, hiding from his past, his guilt, and those who are trying to find him. Then one night Rusty is wheeled into the ER, burned on half his body by hateful classmates. His agony calls out to Drew like a beacon, pulling them both together through all their pain and grief. In Rusty, Drew sees hope, happiness, and a future for both of them. A future outside the hospital, and away from their pasts. But Drew knows that life is never that simple. Death roams the hospital, searching for Drew, and now Rusty. Drew lost his family, but he refuses to lose Rusty, too, so heÂ’s determined to make things right. HeÂ’s determined to bargain, and to settle his debts once and for all. But Death is not easily placated, and DrewÂ’s life will have to get worse […]

Posted September 14, 2015 by Emily in Review / 2 Comments
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