Wednesday, March 21, 2012

{Book Review:} The Word Gang by Mark McKenna

Title: The Word Gang 
Author: Mark McKenna
Number of Pages: 266
Published: December 8th 2010 by Precipitation Press
Source: Given to read by Author (paperback)
Reading Level: YA and Up
Star Rating: ★★★1/2

"The Word Gang" is the story of three kids in school who start using big words to be disruptive.
Kalisha Jackson is a girl with a stomach-churning secret - she cut school for a year and never got caught A new year begins. Kalisha decides to go back to school. While waiting for the bus she sees an old man struggling with a cart full of groceries. She stops to help and meets Albrecht Spinoza, a man who can speak seventeen languages, but who's had no one to talk to since the death of his beloved wife, Rosa.

Kalisha is late the first day setting off a conflict with her teacher, Jack Ralston. She's been stuck in something called "Project Restart," a strange new program in which the penalty for not doing well is a special classroom in Juvenile Hall. Mr. Spinoza gives Kalisha a copy of the Compact Oxford Dictionary. But the more "big" words Kalisha learns, the less everyone understands her and the madder Jack Ralston seems to get. Which to Kalisha and her new friends sounds like fun - and a great way to destroy Project Restart.

That is, if they don't get "trammeled," "proscribed," or "incarcerated," first.
First Impressions: Honestly I was not sure how I would like this book simply because I don't really read a lot of novels that are strictly Young Adult. I most often read YA novels that have a sub-genre present (PRN, Urban Fantasy, Horror, ect) so going into a book like this had me feeling a bit hesitant. I really loved the book synopis and the cover itself did not make any sense to me but after you read The Word Gang it all will fall in place and help the reader to understand why the cover of the book looks the way it does. 

Review:  Well I am not sure where to begin with this review but I guess I will first tell you that I really learned a lot while reading. A single word now has more meaning that I thought and can make a huge impact in life, especially when that word(s) happens to change a persons life for the better. At the start of the book you are introduced to the main character Kalisha Jackson who have been hiding a big secret from everyone - She has cut school for the whole year and but never told anyone. After deciding to tell her Mom and to risk the consequences. Kalisha goes back into High School and it determined to stay this time. On the first day of school she finds out that she is being put into a special class or program called Protect Restart. This program is new to her school and is for students who need a fresh start. The Vice Principal is teaching the class and is a total jerk. Jack Ralston only thinks of this as a job and treats the students horribly as they are worthless in his eyes. After being given a Compact Oxford Dictionary from a sweet old man who lives upstairs Kalisha learns a lot of unique and new words. These words are rare and unused in this day and age. Kalisha and her new friends in the class begin to use these words during Protect Restart class. No hard done, right? You would think but because Vice Principal, Jack does not understand or know these words this angers him and thus will begin the start of the "The Word Gang".  How can a single word get someone if trouble? Well the answer lies with the pages. 

I will not tell you anymore of the story because it would spoil the novel but the whole concept of the book is unique and very realistic. I really enjoyed the book being narrated from the POV of Kalisha. She and her friends are fun and relatable character's. Many times during the book I felt sorry for the way they were all being treated. I really love when I can form a bond with one or more of the character's in the book and can get a sense of what they were dealing with on a emotional level. On a different note, there was a few things in the novel that I did not care for. One being that I felt the overall flow of the novel was kind of slow and the side stories within the novel did not really draw me in. I found Jack Ralston to be very crude and hurtful. While I understand that his character was written this way to make a impact within the book. I could not help but feel that his overall attitude brought down my mood while reading. I keep thinking that I don't understand why he was treating these kids so meanly; never even giving them the benefit of the doubt to do better. The story itself for me was pretty good and I really loved that "The Word Gang" worked together to stop this harsh treatment and make a difference. The impact from this felt was very sincere and inspirational. 

Final Thoughts:  After reading the book I found that I did come like it more that I through I would have and while I realize this type of book is not something I would usually pick up myself and read I was happy I did decide to give it a go. The Author, Mark McKenna I feel wrote a book that has and will impact teens and and even Adults. The Word Gang is such a feel good story that in the end will leave the reader having a better understanding of what a simple "action" can do to impact and change a life. 

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