Saturday, April 13, 2013
A Review of This Journal Belongs to Ratchet by Nancy J. Cavanaugh
Ages 9 and up (from the publisher) Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Release date: April 1, 2013
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars!
Review copy provided by netgalley.com
This story is told by the main character, Ratchet (who is actually named Rachel). Ratchet's mom passed away when she was young. She lives with her eccentric, environmentalist father who does not want her to go to public school. Ratchet tells the story through the writing assignments in her homeschool journal. When she isn't writing, Ratchet can be found helping her mechanic father fix cars in their garage. She is also a skilled mechanic, thus the nickname, Ratchet.
Ratchet is desperate to learn more about her mother, but her father seems reluctant to discuss her mom. This creates a wedge between them and Ratchet feels increasingly angry and resentful toward her father. As events unfold, readers find out that his reasons for deliberately withholding information from her are an attempt to protect her from the difficult truth.
Although she loves her father and does not want to upset him, Ratchet longs to go to a public school and have a "normal" middle school life with real friends. In her own words, what she really wants is to change her "old, recycled, freakish, friendless, motherless life into something shiny and new."
I really loved this book. I loved how Ratchet is a down to earth girl who shops at Goodwill, can make a go-cart run better than any boy and cares about her father. The journal is written in her handwriting in a wide variety of writing forms (poetry, how to, persuasive essay, etc.). Her entries are clever, entertaining and amusing, thinly masking her obvious feelings of loss and loneliness. Another aspect of this book that I like is the fact that Ratchet is a middle schooler, but the book is very accessible to ages 9 and up. It is not a difficult read and I think girls and boys alike will enjoy her story.
Themes/topics include: loss of a parent, homeshooling, talents, global issues such as pollution and recycling, friendship, and self-acceptance.
Congratulations to Nancy J. Cavanaugh on her excellent debut novel!
Visit Nancy's website for more info on This Journal Belongs to Ratchet.
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