Thursday, September 15, 2011
ARC Review: ALSO KNOWN AS ROWAN POHI
The Author: Ralph Fletcher
The Publisher: Clarion Books (in Imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Expected Release Date: November 14, 2011
A handful of weeks before he's set to start the tenth grade, Bobby Steele and his friends, Marcus and Big Poobs, are lazing in their preferred booth at the local IHOP, bored out of their heads. Just as they're about to expire from boredom, they find a syrup-stained application to the exclusive Whitestone Academy lying on an abandoned table a few feet away. Brilliant idea hatched, they fill in the necessary blanks, creating a boy named Rowan and mail in his application, just to see if they can get accepted.
Imagine Bobby's surprise when he receives Rowan's acceptance package a little more than a week later. The boys celebrate their victory with a laugh and goodbye to their brainchild, laying Rowan to rest. That's supposed to be the end of it. They pulled one over on the snobs at Whitestone and got a few kicks in the process.
That is, until Bobby steps through the hallowed halls of Whitestone himself, as Rowan Pohi, walking a tightrope of secrets and deceptions where the slightest misstep could bring his whole life crashing down.
While ALSO KNOWN AS ROWAN POHI was a fast, fun read, it did not lack for depth. Bobby's family dynamic was by turns, disconcerting, inspiring, and in the end, hopeful. His personality shone through in every thought, action, and word, lighting up the pages with his own brand of wry, self-effacing humor, even as he desperately clung to the Rowan persona, unwilling to be Bobby Steele.
His friends, both as Rowan and as Bobby were lively and engaging. Big Poobs was my favorite of the side-characters. My favorite line in the whole book came when Bobby tells his boys how he resurrected Rowan and entered Whitestone as a student. Big Poobs, in his earnest and endearing way, says, "Rowan came back from the dead? Only Jesus and vampires can do that!" AHAHAHAHA I love it!
It is this quirky comedic relief that helps soften the blow of exactly why Bobby feels he needs to hide behind the shield that Rowan Pohi is, the shield that protects him from the stain that comes with the name Robert Steele. It's at once heart-breaking and wrath-inducing that he feels the need to hide, but without it, the reader has no need to get behind Bobby, and cheer him on, you will.