The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman

I read this book because of the title. It's young adult fiction, and Jon brought it home from the library (because of the title). "Schwa" is such a cool word, don't you think? It's that little upside-down e in phonetics, a sound that is barely there, like the "i" in pencil, or the "o" in convince. Just a little sound that gets you from one consonant to the next in an unstressed syllable.

So I thought I'd better read something that uses that word in the title. While some of the book was clever, and it was mildly interesting to read, it was just okay. I should explain that I was reading it with our almost-11-year-old in mind, wondering if it would be appropriate for him. (He reads a ton, and I don't try to read everything he reads, but occasionally I'll read something before he does, to approve it or not.) My conclusion is that it's not appropriate--there's a lot of talk about these 14-year-old characters dating each other. That just freaks me out too much (and it would probably freak out my son, too, thank goodness). Seems like 14 is way too young to date, but then I remember how boy crazy I was (even when I was much younger than 14), and then I just don't want to think about it anymore. Not when it has to do with my kids, who are still little. Aren't they?

Anyway, I wanted a more clear-cut moral to this story. Instead, the main character doesn't treat his friends all that well, sort of realizes his mistakes but doesn't do much about it, and then is absurdly rewarded at the end. Not bad, but not thought-provoking or great, either.


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