Friday, January 22, 2010

The Kids at Latimar High

The Kids at Latimar High by Deborah Copeland 2006 ARC

Rating: 2/5

IQ " I mean you can't fix something that you didn't do. Stuff just happens and people expect you to be a certain way and act a certain way." Kevin pg. 39

Going to Lewis Latimar High used to be easy for Lauren O'Neil. As long as she stayed on the honor roll, got the juiciest stories for the school paper, and made sure her silky thick flip reigned amongst all the other girls at Latimar High, things stayed as smooth as a White Castle's vanilla shake until the day she got the assignment of a lifetime: to interview Kevin Johnson, Latimar's star quarterback, the finest boy in the Bronx, who was up for grabs by every girl in the school, including her best friend Rosalyn, who makes a move for Kevin. And in doing so, violates just about all of Lauren and her Girlfriends' do's and don't codes to live by. In fact, as the competition heats up, Lauren breaks a few friendship codes herself. With a sudden bitter twist, life at Latimar High isn't as easy as it used to be.

That quote is not too incredible, but I needed something. First of all, just as an FYI it's self-published and that's not an issue to me (I really need to do a post about why I read self-published books summed up in 7 words: A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliott and I want to support up and coming authors of color). Like I said, I have no problem with self-published books as long as they are at their absolute best. I read somewhere (and I completely agree) don't publish a book until you're absolutely sure it's your best manuscript. And have other people read it! I found so many misspelled words, typos and grammatical errors in the Kids at Latimar High that annoyed me to no end (it's ok if it's an ARC, but this book is not). I don't want to be mean (feel free to let me know if you thought I was too harsh in this review), just offer constructive criticism.

The story has potential. The potential of the story lies in developing the minor characters a little more, telling their stories and offering more information about the main characters as well. How they turned out the way they did. Lauren's parents are fighting all the time, which worries Lauren. There's a loooong buildup to this crucial scene involving the subject of the arguments and then nothing. We read a second-hand account of what someone thought. I wanted to know how Lauren felt since it concerned her the most, I don't care how people not related to Lauren feel! The book promises a "bitter twist" (back cover), well there was no bitter twist. It was cliched and not particularly interesting. I saw the ending coming (except for one small part concerning a minor character, that was interesting but not developed). And Rosalyn's Uncle Nate sounds like a fascinating character (like the Godfather) but we learn so little about him.

I was also tired of the same old cliches and expressed used to describe characters in the novel. We constantly had to read about people raving over Lauren's "good hair" and it just got tiresome after awhile. It's described constantly as "silky", "thick", "long", etc. And it wasn't just Lauren. The main characters are constantly being described in appearance and always being mentioned but the secondary characters were hardly described or mentioned unless they appeared on the scene (there's one character, Melly Marv, who always pops up and I don't remember what he looks like or how he got his nickname "smelly" or why he's even important to the story). The characters are all flat, walking talking cliches and the pop culture references have this novel dated already. The characters were just annoying. Especially Rosalyn and Lauren. Lauren's girlfriend codes were a bit odd too. She makes rules to govern her and Rosalyn's friendship, to keep each other in check. They are cute and well meaning but she constantly refers to them and shouts out "girlfriend rule number two" or something which is irritating. Just say the rule out loud, that reminds people better. Especially, because I forgot the girlfriend codes right away. I love when an author writes flawed characters, they're human and lovable. Not so here. Caught up in materialism and it's all about them, they're flawed and not at all lovable. Did they have sad stories? Yes. But the stories would have impacted me more deeply had they been elaborated upon. Ugh and please authors don't use lines like these "her weathered Cherokee Indian features" pg. 92. In this case the character is a cafeteria worker whose ethnicity is not too important so why bother mentioning it? It didn't add to the story, I suppose it added diversity since she was the only Native American in the story but since the book is not about her and she's mentioned once, it really doesn't matter. Furthermore, what does a Cherokee Indian look like? Personally, I've never even met a Native American (how sad is that?) from any tribe so I wouldn't know the difference between a Cherokee and a Sioux. I don't mean that to be offensive, I simply mean that if you are going to identify the tribe of a Native American (which you should do, based on blogs/comments I've read saying that tribal origin is the preferred means of identification) then talk in more detail about them. Don't just mention it in passing and not elaborate because then it means nothing. Take this as an opportunity to educate readers like me.
In short, I didn't enjoy reading The Kids At Latimar High. It didn't waste much of my time because it's a quick read. I just didn't care how it ended or what happens to the characters and I won't be looking for the sequel. I believe this story could be good if it's edited again and developed more. It needs something to make it stand out because right now it's a generic story that involves no twists or particularly pleasing events (i.e. if a book is cliched but absolutely hilarious that makes it better and enjoyable).

Disclosure: Won in a giveaway from the author's website. Thank you Deborah!

ETA: I've been told that I received an ARC so that excuses some of the grammatical and spelling errors so I'm changing my rating to 2/5. However, my issues with the book remain the same. Also, I've been asked to pull this review down which I will not do as I have freedom of speech.


  1. Keepin' it real makes it hard for folks to question our integrity. Thanks for the heads up. I'll pass on this one.

  2. Another great review. I love your ideas for improvement. I think you gave a fair review and you included lines from the book. Great work!

  3. Good, fair reivew. Came here thanks to a link from the Guardian.

    If you come to OK I can introduce you to a lot of Indians :)

  4. I am completely baffled that you would give Copeland's book, The Kids at Latimar High, one butchering of a review. This book was rated very well by, MidWest Book Review (a professional book reviewer at that), Angelia Menchan from APOOO Book club, and RAWSISTAZ Reviewers. Not to mention that Deborah Gregory, author of The Cheetah Girl Series, had wonderful things to say about The Kids at Latimar High. Latimar High received nothing less than 4 stars.

    Apparently, you must have been stressed out from reading too many books in a given time frame and your judgement was impaired.

    Readers check out the great reviews on Copeland's book yourself before you judge her book based on this one. =)

  5. What's up with all this black shit? Black authors? Black readers? What a racist Blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. @Anon #1-That's the beauty of book blogs. Each reviewer has their own opinion and readers can look at multiple reviews and form their own opinions. I do assure you however, that I was not stressed.

    @Anon #2- I review books about people of color, Black, Asian, Native American and Latino. Reviewing books about white poeple is not the purpose of my blog. You can go elsewhere to find those reviews. I'm sorry that you feel that way.

  7. Anonymous, you do not leave a name which says you don't own your words and there is no link for us to know if you're professional though I can't imagine a professional lashing out this way.

    Ari has a credible history of reviewing. She is respected and supported by a solid readership. We value her opinion. And while her opinion isn't the only opinion, nothing in her review attacks the writer personally unlike what you are doing now.

    I wasn't going to read the book, but maybe there should be more reviews. I will look for this book and review it.If you know anything about me, you know I am candid. I am also an adult. Insults and threats don't intimidate me.

    My link is active.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. I don't think you're being to harsh about the grammar errors, etc. at all. I read a lot of self pubbed myself, and there are some great self-pubbed books. But there's a lot of trash too. I think as a reader I have a right to read a book free of those kinds of errors, small press or no. It just makes the book lose all sorts of crediblity in the process.

    And a little off topic, but whoa... you got some nasty anon comments there. Sorry you had to deal with that!

    *Edited to correct spelling* I can't type today...

  10. I think you did a good job being specific in your review about what does not work in the book. You have specific examples, page numbers, etc.

    An author has to be prepared to receive negative reviews when they put a book out into the world. That's just part of the deal. I have reviewed self published books in my column at Bookslut and there is never any excuse for misspellings, grammatical errors, etc. Do the work before you release the book.

    As to the anon comments - put up or shut up, period.

  11. Hi, Anonymous!

    Thank you for supporting my book, The Kids at Latimar High. I did give Ari an unedited ARC copy, but I guess she just didn't like it. Oh, well. LOL. On a much happier note, THE KIDS AT LATIMAR HIGH is currently in development for an animated film. I am soooo excited. =) So "Hats off" to all my fans and readers who dig The Kids at Latimar High.

    P.S. Check out the cartoon snippet on YouTube:

    Peace & Blessings to all! =)

    ~Debbie Copeland, Author
    The Kids at Latimar High

  12. The only thing that's funny and sad is Copeland's lack of class.

    This is a very constructive review. I think many authors, not just self published can learn from it.

    You were able to point out what didn't work for you, without being cruel or mean.

    It's not easy to write a good review of a book you don't like, as always Ari - this is a very good one.

  13. Ari, negative reviews are a reality (maybe not a fun reality, but reality all the same...) of being an author. You did a great job reviewing THE KIDS AT LATIMAR HIGH. You were constructive and did not speak negatively of the author, just the book. Good job!! As for the author asking you to take the review down, not cool. I hope she's able to reign in her sensitivity as she continues to publish because she's never going to please everyone.


I love to hear from you!! Thank you for sharing :) And don't be Anon, I try to always reply back and I like to know who I'm replying to ;)