April 23, 2017

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Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg | SLJ Review

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redstarKONIGSBERG, Bill. Honestly Ben. 336p. ebook available. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks. Apr. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545858267.

YA-HS-Konigsberg-HonestlyBenGr 9 Up –Ben Carver works hard trying to please his friends, his teammates, his teachers, and, most important, his father. Barely keeping up with his classwork, extracurricular activities, and friendships, Ben wonders if he does all of these things for himself or just to placate those around him. He grapples with staying true to himself, even if he isn’t sure who that self is yet. This follow-up to Openly Straight is told from Ben’s perspective as a scholarship student living among privileged classmates as well as a teen wrestling with the consequences of living by other people’s expectations. Well-rounded characters take readers from serious, thoughtful discussions to typical teen pranks with ease. A boarding school story along the lines of Andrew Smith’s Winger, this is equal parts serious and funny as it addresses homophobia, hazing rituals, and cheating while also delighting readers with a slice-of-life tale set at a private academy. VERDICT A first purchase for public libraries wishing to add diverse titles to their collection; give this to fans of Andrew Smith, Brent Hartinger, and John Knowles.–Jenni Frencham, Columbus Public Library, WI

This review was published in the School Library Journal January 2017 issue.

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