Stacy King has made it big in Pittsburgh. She’s graduated high school, and then college, and now she is happily pursuing her dream career as a journalist for KPGH television. Millions see her face on television every day. She’s come back to Squirrel Hill High to do a follow up piece on a popular English teacher. But his mysterious disappearance winds up turning up a few pages of her own past.
First, there is a Squirrel Hill High book number 1 which I haven’t read before. Truthfully, I wasn’t aware of the series until I bumped into Varner on Twitter and he offered me an eARC of this book. I read the summary on Amazon. And I watched the book trailer, too. And I couldn’t wait to dive into the book! Both of these – but especially the book trailer – set up a really good mystery. I love a good mystery. Love. I love mysteries. Okay.
First, I liked that this book was set in a secular school with normal people who had normal things happening to them. I didn’t get bopped upside the head with Catholicism. Also, I loved that the premise of this book and the issues that Varner deals with are very real: Social Media and its destructive potential. So good. And so relevant. And again, Varner isn’t hitting us over the head with how social media shouldn’t be used. He shows us its potential nastiness when used by nasty people.
This is were I have to downgrade the star rating, as it were. Here I am, reading the book swiping across the ipad with intenstity to find out what’s going to happen next – will Stacy get caught??? – and then. Bam. or meh. nothing! It left me hanging just when it was gettin’ good! There is a real mystery here, with lots of intrigue. Where is this teacher? And why did he leave? And a side mystery (to me, anyway): why does Stacy keep referring to him as Mr. Payne when she worked with Michael Payne on a joint project their last year at University?
The book is only 189 pages – plenty of room for more plot. We need more plot and less of Stacy thinking everything over. This is a mystery, after all. For example, at one point we take a plane ride with Stacy all the way over to Taiwan. We get stuck in the road with a non-English speaking Taxi driver! Suspense! And then…well, I don’t want to spoil the ending – but I’m sure I don’t know what happened in Taiwan.
The same is true of the characters. The author keeps us from really getting to know the characters and share in their experiences. He stops short. In one instance, Stacy and Leo banter back and forth with literary (and some television) allusions. But after this scene, after we are intrigued by this very entertaining aspect of their relationship, the idiosyncrasy just fizzes out. I want more!
I want more.
That’s the summation of the entire book. I wanted more. And the frustrating thing is that while reading it I felt that there was more, but that the author held back. This is only a second book, though. I’m sure there are more in the series and I look forward to the author’s growth – when it happens, this series will take off.
Yes. The potential is that strong: Great story lines concerning modern day issues, interesting characters with incredible potential, no unnecessary dragging us into people’s beds, and not hitting us over the head with moralistic summations.
I can’t wait to read future books in the Squirrel Hill High series.
In the meantime, go ahead and read this book. It’s an entertaining page turner and a dun easy read.
What You Need to Know
- Role Models/Authority Figures – I like Stacy. She’s a smart, strong, female character. And a good egg to boot. Her friend Leo is a good guy, too. And a nice priest pops into the story for a few pages.
- Violence – Cyber bullying!
- Sexual Content – None
- Consumerism – None.
- Drinking/Smoking/Drugs – None
- Religion – Subtly Catholic in such a good way
- Other –
- Book Trailer can be found here