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250 hours
2015
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Summary
Jess and Sara Jean couldn't be more different. He's a loner with a criminal record; a Metis raised on the Reserve; the son of a residential school survivor. She's from nearby Edelburg, a conservative small town. Abandoned by her mother, Sara Jean cares for her obese grandmother and tries to find time to work on a novel that is her escape from her life. Does Jess really have a role to play in what happens next in her life? When Jess is found guilty of arson, he's ordered to complete 250 hours of community service, starting with Sara Jean's neglected garage. Sorting through boxes left by her grandfather, they discover that the secrets keeping their communitiess apart are the very things that will bring them together.
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School Library Journal Review
Gr 7 Up-A young adult novel of an unlikely friendship rising from the ashes of life's numerous adversities. Sara Jean and Jess appear to be as different as two teens can be. Sara Jean escapes the hardships of her life caring for her obese grandmother by sneaking time to write. Jess has a complicated past, filled with a history of pyromania. When the story begins, Jess is sentenced to serve 250 hours of community service for his latest crime. He is sent to clean the garage belonging to Sara Jean's grandmother. Initially, both think the task involves a lot of garbage, but the contents of the garage may not be trash at all. And the teens might not be that different after all. Nelson's novel captures the various hardships of growing up and the experiences associated with being thrust into a life filled with mature responsibilities. The protagonists' desire for escape unites them. The chapters alternate between Sara Jean's first-person perspective and Jess's story, written in third person. Nelson deepens the dimensions of the characters through this unique approach. This work will appeal to those who have struggled with family issues such as parental abandonment and loved ones suffering from illnesses. VERDICT This touching story about friendship, forgiveness, and redemption deserves a place in most teen fiction collections.-Kevin McGuire, Woodland Hills School District, PA © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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