Thursday, February 26, 2015

If I Ever Get Out of Here

Gansworth, Eric. 2013. IF I EVER GET OUT OF HERE. New York: Arthur A. Levine.

I love music. I attribute that mainly to friends I've had throughout my life who shared their love of music with me. Music has such a way of connecting us, defining us, and reminding us that at the core we are all the same. If I Ever Get Out of Here is a novel that uses music as the backdrop for the story of two unlikely friends in 1975 upstate New York.

Lewis Blake is Native American and lives on a reservation. Until they enter middle school, the kids from the reservation attend a separate school. When entering middle school, Lewis is put into an advanced class. He is the only one from the reservation in his class, so he mainly feels invisible.

The school is also near an Air Force base, and students of Air Force families are constantly moving in and out. So, at the beginning of 7th grade, Lewis has a chance to make a friend with a new kid, George, who is also an outsider.

Lewis and George sit together in choir, and discover they both love the Beatles. But Lewis is hesitant about this new friendship. He doesn't think his mother, who cleans the houses of white people, would be so keen on his having a friend who didn't live on the reservation. He is also acutely aware that his house, with no bathroom inside and mismatched furnishings, is probably not as nice as the house that George lives in on the base.

George and Lewis become friends, spending all of their time at George's house. Lewis tells several lies to avoid having George over to his house. But soon, their friendship is complicated by girlfriends and bullies, and Lewis's realization that things are unfairly stacked against him. Not only does this prejudice come from the aforementioned bullies, but even teachers and administrators at the school.

Throughout the book, music plays a role. The boys are always listening to records, and even attend a Wings concert in Toronto with George's dad. Lewis's fondest wish is to have a guitar of his own and learn to play it. At different times in the book, a song plays a role, such as Someone to Love by Queen, and Two of Us by the Beatles.

I enjoyed this book, but it was a slow moving one. There isn't too much action, but lots of description. Things do get interesting towards the end when a huge blizzard hits New York in 1977. I hope that there are some students out there who are willing to give it a chance. It was a good reminder that although sometimes we might feel so different from everyone else, at heart, we all have more in common than we realize.

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