Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Review of This Journal Belongs to Ratchet by Nancy J. Cavanaugh

Goodreads page

320 pages

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

Brief Summary
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."

My Thoughts
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.

See what others are saying about this book.
Publishers Weekly
Kirkus Reviews


  1. You should review this for MSBA! As a Maine teacher we would love to hear your thoughts on any 2013 books you read! on the website there is a tab at the top: Review a Book. :) I'm adding this to my list of titles to be on the look out for.

    1. I'll look for that Nicole. Thanks so much.

  2. Hi Gigi!

    Little does Nicole know we are way ahead of her right? ;) See I told you that you needed to submit more reviews to the spreadsheet link I sent you awhile back. That's two votes now so you really have no choice...and aren't you glad we don't resort to pressure?! ;)

    I've had this one on my NetGalley shelf for awhile but I'll be moving it up now based on your fantastic review. Keep 'em coming!

    See you soon friend!

    Happy Reading!

    1. Thanks Susan! I keep forgetting about that link. Will need to check it out.

  3. Awesome review! Definitely adding it to my reading list. I'll follow you via google friend connect to await more reviews. :). Thanks for sharing.

    Brandee Green
    Creating Lifelong Learners

  4. Thanks so much for reading and following my blog. I really appreciate it!

  5. I just saw a new review on the MSBA spreadsheet... :) Awesome!

  6. Thanks to all those who commented! I appreciate you talking about RATCHET and am glad to hear readers are enjoying it!
    Nancy J. Cavanaugh

  7. How could they NOT love it, Nancy! It's just such a fun, well-written, appealing story. Way to go, Ratchet!

  8. Perhaps I can use this one to teach different genres next year! Onto my "summer must read" list!

  9. I think this book looks so cute - I have been wanting to read it for a while now! I love the cover, the colors make me happy :)