Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Gentlemen by Michael Northrop

I don't usually choose a book by its cover, but this one, with a boy in a body bag grabbed my attention right away.
Gentlemen tells the story of four boys from the wrong side of the track. They are beaten down by their home life, school and their peers. They have found friends in each other and are just trying to survive through high school until they can graduate and start working.
At school, most of the teachers treat them with disdain, not putting any effort into teaching them anything useful. It appears to the boys that the teachers just don't think they are worth the bother. The exception to this is Mr. Haberman, their English teacher. He treats them with respect, always calling them 'Gentlemen'.
One day, one of the boys loses it in school and when he is sent to the office, he isn't seen again. Not by his mom, his friends or his cousins. It isn't unusual for him to disappear, it is just that usually someone knows he has taken off. Things start to get out of control when the boys left behind start wondering where he is gone. Coupled with the story they are reading in English "Crime and Punishment", and the strange way Mr. Haberman is acting, the boys start to suspect that Mr. Haberman had something to do with the disappearance.
This book is pretty gritty. I found it hard to read sometimes- I think it is best that I don't know what goes through the mind of a teenage boy. The main character, Michael, is likable in many parts, but at times he is vulgar and rude. I did however find myself sympathizing with the boys when Mr. Haberman went on and on about the book they were reading. I could totally understand why the boys hated reading after listening to him state his interpretation of the book.
I'm not really sure I would recommend this book to anyone. It was a pretty depressing read in places.

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