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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Ruin


The Ruin by Kenneth Fenter

(Summary taken from the last page of the book) "Kenneth Fenter's The Ruin is part coming-of-age novel, part Robinson Crusoe, part history lesson, and wholly deserving of an audience of both adults and teenagers. The novel follows Clifton Kelly, a bullied 8th grader in the early 50's, and him as an adult celebrating his last day of teaching. Cliff's retirement day turns tragic when a fellow teacher is murdered by her own son, who then goes to Cliff's sister school and kills students there. The boy's bloody response to bullying triggers Cliff's memories of being bullied during school, and his own response to it."

I really liked this story. It isn't a really fast read, but it is thought-provoking and interesting. It kept me reading. I liked the characters in the book and thought they were well developed. They were believable and I felt I could relate to many of them. I think almost everyone has dealt with bullying on some level, and so the scenes with Cliff and Hector will relate to a lot of people. I could relate to Mrs. Campbell as a teacher, and as a mother I could relate to Cliff's mother.

I had mixed emotions with Cliff's reaction to Hector's bullying. From Cliff's standpoint I see it as a good thing for him. I see how he needed to heal, and how he was able to. From a teacher's standpoint I would think of myself as a failure for not doing more to help the situation. From Cliff's mom's point of view I was furious with him. I could not believe he did that! If one of my children did that I would be furious! I would also be upset with myself for not doing more to prevent the situation to begin with. I felt so bad for her the entire time.

I liked the descriptions in this book. Not being familiar with the area, I needed a lot of description, and that is what I got. Mr. Fenter's descriptive language is beautiful. His descriptions of Cliff's daily activities were so vivid I felt as if I were watching the story through binoculars.

I did have one problem with this book and that was all the typos. There were a lot of typos in the book and it really bothered me. There were some sentences that I just had to guess on. Hopefully he will fix that for future editions. Other than that and a few swear words, I really enjoyed this book.

Rating: PG-13 (Some language, a high school shooting with a teacher and students dead, details about Santa Claus that younger readers may not know, and details about surviving in the wild.)

Recommendation: 14 or 15 and up. I think by this age teens will be able to learn from the story, read it, and enjoy it, without being overwhelmed.

2 comments:

Kenneth Fenter said...

Thank you for the review. You comments are appreciated. I especially am interested in your view from the perspective as mother and teacher. I've heard the same comment from the mother perspective before and felt, as a parent while writing it, that if my own child had run away, it would have been very difficult for me and my wife. As for the typos and edits the book is undergoing a review at this time to attempt to correct this. When that review is complete a corrected file will be uploaded and will hopefully remedy that flaw.
My thanks for the recommendations and insight.
Kenneth Fenter

Monica said...

Thank you for your comments Mr. Fenter. As a mother I would not only be furious but I would be a basket case--nervous, anxious, devastated, sad, etc. Let's hope some kids read your book and are inspired to fight bullying in ways other than violence.