Thursday, February 21, 2013

Review of Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stentz

Miller, Ashley Edward and Zack Stentz.  Colin Fischer. Razorbill (Young Penguin Readers Group), 2012.  978-1-59514-578-9.  226 p.   $17.99, hc.  Grades 8 and up.
Colin Fischer is a fourteen-year-old freshman with Asperger’s Sydrome.  He is high-functioning and extremely intelligent, but is an outcast because of his lack of social skills.  He is very observant and detail-oriented, and has kept a notebook of his observations for many years.  He does not excel at any sports, except jumping on the trampoline, which seems to calm his nerves and help him to think.
On his first two days as a freshman, Colin causes a scene in class, gets sent to the principal’s office, learns to shoot basketball, becomes a witness in a school gun incident, gets into a fight, and lies to his parents for the first time.  This, from a boy, who has never been in trouble at school!  When he is sent to the office for disrupting class, he is able to tell Dr. Doran, the principal at West Valley High School, specifics about a student’s cellphone that no one else would even notice!
The next day, as Colin’s friend, Melissa, celebrates her birthday with cake in the cafeteria, there is a school shooting!  The obvious culprit is Wayne, one of the school bullies, but Colin knows he is innocent and sets out to prove it.  Although Wayne has tormented Colin since grade school, the two pair up and go on a wild adventure to figure out who owns the gun used in the shooting!  Using what they learn, what Colin overhears and his honed powers of deduction, Colin pins the crime on the girlfriend on another of the school’s thugs.  The solving of the crime results in mutual admiration and an unlikely friendship between Colin and Wayne!
Colin Fischer is just a delightful novel!  I cannot remember the last time I laughed so much while reading a book!  Colin is a wonderful character, very matter-of-fact, and takes everything so literal.  He writes down everything in his spiral notebook, which is actually more of a journal, including the word, “investigate”, if he needs more information.  Because he has a hard time deciphering facial expressions, he carries around flash cards to help him label emotions.  In the book, the font for these emotions…ANGER…SERIOUS…IMPRESSED…and so on, seem to mimic the actual words he might see on his flash cards.  During the story, readers find out more about Asperger’s Syndrome, both through writings in his notebook and through dialogue.
Colin’s mom and dad are great parents!  They have worked at raising Colin to be independent, but are still surprised when moments arrive when he doesn’t need their help.  He is still able to surprise them with his accomplishments.  His brother, Danny, on the other hand, is resentful and jealous of Colin, who just seems to shrug it off.  This is one-sided sibling rivalry!
My favorite part of the book was the quest that Wayne and Colin went on, specifically the time spent in the home of the La Familia gang!  I also loved how Mr. Turrentine, Colin’s gym teacher, took the time to actually teach Colin how to shoot the basketball.  Mr. Turrentine had the best line in the book when he said to Colin, “Life is a contact sport, and pads are not an option.”
This is a great guy book, but girls will also enjoy it.  It’s a quick read and one that shouldn’t be missed!  I highly recommend it for upper middle school, high school, and public libraries!
*Reviewer’s Note:  This book was received from Library Media Connection in exchange for an honest review.