Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sketchy Behavior

Kate Carter loves to draw. That’s the thing she loves to do most. She’s not good at math, she doesn’t do sports, and she doesn’t have many friends. She keeps mostly to herself. Art is her favorite subject in high school and drawing is her thing. And, she has a gift for it.

In Sketchy Behavior, Kate unknowingly does a sketch of a wanted criminal as an assignment for art class. Her sketch is so realistic it is used to catch the man. That should make her happy, but it doesn’t.

Her parents go off the deep end when they find out her sketch was used by the police without their knowledge or consent. Kate is pleased her artwork was good enough to use, but her sudden popularity at school is nerve-wracking. Then, things turn serious as Kate’s life is threatened by an accomplice of the man who was put behind bars.

What I Like: I really like the main character, Kate Carter. The author, Erin Mangum did a great job of bringing Kate’s character to life.

I also like the way the author tackled the subject of introducing someone to God and the church. Kate had heard of God, but she wasn’t really sure what she believed in regards to His existence. Neither of her parents believed in Him, so she tended to follow their lead. She had been in church a few times, but only when her mother insisted they go for a special service, like at Christmas, so they could absorb “the culture”. So, when Kate’s mother insists they all go to church after Kate’s near brush with death, Kate’s reaction to the whole church service is just about what you’d expect from a teenager who hadn’t been raised in the church. But, I liked the way the author kept bringing the subject of God into the text and how it was handled.

What I Dislike: The book starts with a scene that, at first, seems to be a suicide attempt in progress. That sounds dramatic, and I thought it was, but it turned out the person threatening to jump from a bridge wasn’t serious about it and the person who was trying to talk her out of it knew that. The problem is, I feel the author handled the idea of a possible suicide a bit lightly. I’m sure she didn’t intend it that way, but that’s the way it came across.

I also found the premise of the story to be a bit unbelievable. A high school junior is given a drawing assignment that propels her into the world of criminals who are trying to kill her. That’s doesn’t sound very realistic. First, would a high school art teacher ever give their students an assignment to draw someone they only have a written description of if that description came straight from the police file folder of an unsolved crime? I really don’t think that’s likely to happen. The teacher might read a description of a person to the class and have them draw what they thought the person should look like. But, I don’t think the finished sketch would be of a wanted criminal.

Kate’s mom is a psychiatrist. She over-analyzes and has opinions on every type of situation family encounters. In regards to the teacher having the students do a sketch of a wanted criminal, Kate’s mom says the teacher “obviously was not thinking clearly about the damaging effects to the kids’ psyches.” When the family has dinner at the governor’s house and the governor’s children misbehave during the meal and no one makes a move to correct them, Kate’s mom says, “Those poor children are being raised in an atmosphere that is entirely inappropriate for proper growth.” But when Kate’s life is threatened and she is nearly shot, Kate’s mom barely reacts. She’s frightened and angry, but she doesn’t say much at all. It just seemed out of character for her.

And, many, many people send Kate flowers after hearing about her. The flowers just keep coming and the family just keeps setting the vases around in various parts of the house. At one point Kate’s mom reacts to the number of flower vases accumulating around them. She says it takes 30 minutes of her time just to water all of them. I couldn’t help but wonder why they didn’t donate at least some of them to a local hospital or nursing home. I just seemed so selfish to keep all those flowers to themselves.

Overall Rating: Ho hum.

Age Appeal: Teens.

Publisher Info: Zondervan, 2011; ISBN: 9780310721444; Paperback, 220 pages, $9.99.

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Special Info: Erynn Mangum is the author of several books, including two series: Lauren Holbrook and the Maya Davis series. Read more about her and her books at her website.

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1 comment:

Tanya said...

Oh, my, we definitely differ in our opinions of this one. I loved the book and would give it a "Very Good" rating.

Having been an art major, I felt the teacher's assignment was quite realistic. I even found myself wishing my high school teacher had done a series on careers in art. :) I found it fascinating the way she taught and incorporated hands-on experience.

The adult characters were exaggerated, including Kate's parents, but because the book was written from a teenager's first person point of view, I felt it added authenticity to the narrator's voice. Teens often see life, especially adults, in exaggerated form. The first scene (with the almost suicide attempt) perfectly expresses that and sets the tone for the rest of the book.
Yes, that was a jarring scene and, as a parent, I was initially very nervous about its inclusion. But once I realized that her friend was just being dramatic, it didn't bother me at all. It's teens being teens.

Like you, I loved the character of Kate. She was funny, witty and articulate. I appreciated the consistent, but not pervasive inclusion of thoughts about God.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.