Sunday, January 5, 2014

Review: Alexa Nazzaro's 'The Pool Theory'

The Pool Theory by Alexa Nazzaro
Publication Date: June 19, 2013
Publisher: Two Pigeons Press
After years of feeling like a loser, fifteen year old Kye Penton finally has it made. With his new friend, Julian, and the cutest girl in English class by his side, it looks like his days of being a social outcast are ancient history. Until Annie Cooper shows up: pregnant and claiming the baby is his. Kye's life quickly unravels as he's pulled into a nightmare bigger than any bullying he has ever survived.

A contemporary novel that doesn't shy away from the dark side of adolescence, The Pool Theory is an honest depiction of what it means to live out the so-called best years of your life when all you want to do is disappear off the face of the earth.

We have a new reviewer here at the blog! Please welcome Christina McPherson-Mock!!

Christina is a stay at home anthropologist who is currently studying the state of mental health of parents of tweens. A native of Seattle, she is currently trapped in the suburbs of DC while waiting for the Navy to send her, and the rest of her family back to the west coast. She is a lover of all things geek and is an avid collector of Hello Kitty. 

Christina's Review:
This is perhaps one of the hardest reviews I have ever written, and to be honest with you, this book is still gnawing at me. I have a feeling that the reviews on this book are going to run the gamut, depending on whom it is that is doing the review.
Kye is a fifteen year old, socially awkward, high school sophomore. He and his best friend Anthony live life on the periphery, hoping not to catch the attention of the school bullies. The newest addition to their social group, Julian, seems to straddle the line between social outcast and possible hipster, a situation which often leads to conflict between the three boys.
Annie is a fifteen year old that goes to a different school than Kye. She worked as a lifeguard at the community pool over the previous summer and actively flirted with both Kye and Julian. One night the three go to the pool after hours and one thing leads to another until Kye’s “pool theory” is tested. You can’t get pregnant in a pool, can you?
Ms. Nazzaro has created characters that touchingly capture the neuroses of teenagers. The angst, the hope, the self-doubt, is all there in its shining glory in each of the characters. While they are not all likeable, I don’t think they are intended to be, they are all well developed and evolve throughout the book. We see relationships in the eyes of teens, from family, to the lifelong friend, to the secret crush…they all change as we grow into adulthood. Some relationships become more important than others along the way.
As a parent, to both a son and a daughter—both preteens, I want them to read this book. It is an exceptionally moving account of teen pregnancy and the myriad of emotions and consequences both Kye & Annie go through, as well as their families. It is gritty at times and pulls no punches, but it is for precisely that reason that it could be used as a teaching tool. I liked the discussion guide at the end and could easily see this becoming a part of a health education curriculum, assuming there are still school districts out there that are willing to accept the simple fact that teens are and will have sex, that’s a fact of life. I can easily see too how many parents would be up in arms over this book if they themselves don’t take the time to read it. There is a lot of discussion of abortion, however other methods of dealing with the pregnancy are discussed as well. It does take a very mature look at exactly what you are dealing with as a pregnant teen.
As a reader, with my own history, there are so many of my own memories that came rushing back. The Pool Theory is an excellent coming of age story that has its funny moments as well as its heartbreaking ones.
I would be remiss though, if I were caught up in the message of the book and not talk about the actual story at all. We are offered a glimpse into the psyche of a fifteen-year-old boy, and it is interesting to see how quickly hispriorities change when he is forced to accept responsibilities for his actions. As much as he would like to continue living his life, such as his pursuit of Claudia—more awkwardness caught in all its glory, he begins to understand that life has changed, and he has to make the best of it.
The Pool Theory could easily have been a five star book, but the ending did not work for me. I understand the author left it open for the reader to draw his or her own conclusions, however I would have preferred more closure. The book was a fast, easy read and very well written, definitely worthy of four stars. While the ending was unsatisfactory to me, I would hate to see this written into a series as I think it might detract from the message it is trying to send.
Christina's Rating:

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