Sunday, December 26, 2010

waking up this way

Okay. So I've been asked a couple times now to read forthcoming YA novels for the purpose of writing a "blurb" -- an author's endorsement of a particular work -- for them.

I know.


It kind of trips me out that anyone would care whether or not Andrew Smith thinks a book is worth reading. But... eh... whatever.

So, okay, a couple weeks ago I got my hands on an electronic copy of a book called Open Wounds by Joe Lunievicz. The novel is being published by a small publisher (WestSide) that specializes in YA titles, and is due to be released, I believe, in April, 2011.

One of the things that got me interested in the book right away was that it's boy-oriented historical fiction. Okay. I like YA historical fiction a lot, and I'm not trying to ruffle anyone's feathers here, but I think the genre is woefully underrepresented when it comes to shelf space in bookstores. What is out there, too, also tends to be primarily aimed at girls.

So, naturally, I really got into the idea of reading this book about a kid growing up in 1930s and 40s New York. (Side note: That's really all I knew about the book ahead of time. I purposely did not read the synopsis because I like to discover the elements of plot as I go through a book.)

I finished reading the book a couple days ago. And it was the first book (besides my own when I'm working on them) that I'd ever endured reading in its entirety on my computer screen. That, in itself, is testimony to how the book affected me, because I can not put up with reading novels on anything but paper. (It's also why it took me so long to read the book -- I just don't see how editors and agents and people like that can STAND reading entire manuscripts on a display screen of any size, color, or configuration. Sorry. I just can't do it.)

My take?

The world needs more books like Joe Lunievicz’s Open Wounds.

Open Wounds tells this soaring, huge, sweeping tale of Cid Wymann, a Jewish kid from a poor neighborhood, as he grows up in 1930s and 40s New York.

I loved reading Open Wounds.

It’s one of those books that effortlessly pulls you into Cid’s world and makes you want to live there. Open Wounds is dripping with everything that made me love reading when I was a boy: action, compassion, extreme adversity, and heroism.

The setting of the book (Great Depression and War-era New York) is as real and multi-dimensional as the compelling voices embodied in the story’s fascinating characters: Cid, the fighter; Tomik and Siggy, his boyhood friends who at times lose Cid’s trust and must act to regain it; Lefty, the battle-scarred cousin who selflessly devotes himself to Cid; and Nikolai, the funny (the first time Cid meets him, Nikolai vomits on the kid), disturbing, and deeply wounded man who becomes Cid’s mentor and teacher.

I'm not going to say anything about the plotting or conflict in the story. I just loved reading this book, and can't wait to see a real, cover-to-cover, paper version of the novel next year.

So I guess that kind of counts as reading my first book of 2011. I can only hope that the rest of the 2011 novels I read end up being equally enjoyable.

I don't know Joe, his agent, or anyone at WestSide, but this really is one hell of a good book.