I recently finished If A Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko... finally. I feel like I am the last person on earth to read this book. I was waiting on my library to have it available and it recently was. When I read Al Capone Does My Shirts by the same author, I was really impressed, so I figured this book would be equally as amazing. And let's face it, I had heard plenty about it by this time.
The book the teen life of the main character, Kirsten. Her parents are fighting, her sister is a the brainiac Kirsten wishes she were, and the girls at school are excluding her. At the same time the story also follows the life of Walk (Walker) who is a new black student in a predominantly white middle school. Walk deals with is mother who is a tad on the protective side, his cousin who is dabbling in some activities Walk is unsure of, and the new students he is meeting at the middle school. The best part of the book however, is when the plot takes a very interesting turn. As a matter of fact, it was so interesting I heard myself yelling to no one in particular, "OH NO SHE DIDN'T!" (Talking about the author)
The author's craft that makes this a great recommendation is the way Choldenko varies the chapters between Kirsten and Walk. This technique often seems to quite confusing for my age student, but I think it is quite appropriate for more experienced fifth grade readers and of course for sixth grade and up it would be totally appropriate. I must admit however, I did not particularly like the way Walk's chapters were written in a sort of third person voice. That seemed strange for me.
If you are looking for a tween book that is quite unassuming, this is a great book for you. It will have you saying, "Didn't see that coming" but that is what I loved about the book.