105 Ways to Give a Book

One Shot World Tour: Am I Right or Am I Right?

Sorry I’m late. I slept in this morning. Man, I love summer.

Actually, it’s quite appropriate that I’d be on the late end of posting since I was late to the One Shot World Tour itself. I saw that Chasing Ray was covering Australian authors and I had recently read an awesome book that came to my library from Down Under. I asked if pretty please I might be included in the blogging extravaganza, and here I am. Many of the blogs are posting the whole list of participants with the links, but (1) since so many are doing it, you probably don’t need it here, and (2) frankly, I don’t know how to capture the text with all the links intact. Instead, I will link back to the originator of the tour, and the full list of participating bloggers, at Chasing Ray.

Am I Right or Am I Right?On to Am I Right or Am I Right? by Barry Jonsberg.

If you like your teen angst with a little humor, or a lot of humor, have I got the book for you. This may be one of my new favorites, and I’m only two years late in finding it. Though granted, since it’s an Australian import, those books take time to reach my library. You’d think we were making the author swim them to us.

Calma Harrison has an uncalm life. Her absent father turns up after five years, her mother is keeping a secret from her, and her new best friend is hiding something terrible. Calma tries to solve everything, but it doesn’t always work the way she plans or thinks. The book has hilarious situations and great lines throughout, but it’s not all madcap romp. There are serious undertones of trust and friendship and relationships. But the funny sections are super-sharp funny. Like going to get her hair done fancy for her date, and then... well you should read it, but I’ll give you a quote:
After much screwing up of the eyes and facial contortions, I managed to end up looking relatively normal — a considerable improvement on my usual efforts, where I wouldn’t be out of place in a Picasso painting.
When Calma goes to get a job, I cracked up at the long description of the slow-moving, couldn’t-care-less employee at the wrongly-named customer service desk. Boy, did that strike a chord. Or when Calma gets the job...
I nearly choked when he told me the pay rate. I was under the impression that child slavery had been abolished. A sudden vision came to me — a muscled manager in a loincloth whipping cowering employees for not keeping up with the rhythm of beating drums. I didn’t say anything, though. I even tried to manufacture an expression of unbridled joy at the prospect of working for an hourly sum you’d expect to find down the back of a sofa.
I love how she calls her mom The Fridge, since they primarily exchange notes on the refrigerator due to her mom’s busy work schedule. I love that she invents a Fast Forward and Rewind button for within her book so she can move the story along. I love that she writes poems — after trying to get away with writing poetry badly — for different parts of her life. Really, I love everything about this book, and I can’t recommend it strongly enough.

The Crimes and Punishments of Miss PayneAm I Right or Am I Right? is actually the second book about Calma Harrison. I read the first book, The Crimes and Punishments of Miss Payne, yesterday morning when I woke up ridiculously early and couldn’t get back to sleep (now I’ve explained a bit of today’s sleeping in, so you won’t think I’m lazy). The center of this book is the horrible teacher assigned to Calma’s English class. The kids call her the Pitbull, and while she is mean to everyone, she has a particular vengeance for Calma’s mate Kiffo. Though Kiffo and Calma seem to have nothing in common, they have a special bond that is explained in a small side story throughout the book. Trying to bring down Miss Payne, the two of them get in over their heads, with consequences that are sometimes hysterical and sometimes tragic.

While I personally prefer the teen angst in the second book, The Crimes and Punishments of Miss Payne is a great read with wonderful descriptions — some of them with a true Australian flavor. Take the first paragraph of the book, in which Calma is writing an assignment to use similes:
Kiffo’s hair is like a glowing sunset. However, unlike a sunset, it lasts for a long time and doesn’t suddenly turn black and become studded with stars. It is as wild as a dingo on drugs and sticks up like ears of corn after a cyclone. Maybe like a field of corn that is the color of sunset and has been trampled by a whole load of drug-crazed dingoes during a cyclone.
In describing Calma’s overabundant chest, the author uses the imagery of her having a “couple of wombats tucked down there.” The writing is clever, and again sharp-funny. One caveat: Both books are recommended for home reading only, unless you like laughing out loud in public and having to explain yourself. I’ve done that too many times myself, and it never feels less awkward.

Now go take a virtual walkabout of the One Shot World Tour via the full list of participants at Chasing Ray. Until next time, ooroo.

9 comments:

AMY said...

Great reviews. I was surprised to read "Am I Right or Am I Right?" was a book title. I thought it was your post title and it was just, well, so.....you.

jules said...

Sounds like a good book. Thanks for the info.

Jules, whose TBR pile is dangerously wobbly

Susan T. said...

All new books to me. Thanks, MR! I'm getting quite the Australian education during this blog tour.

HipWriterMama said...

These books sound great.

TadMack said...

Wow - both of those books sound amazing! My biggest comment as I read through this tour is, "Man, how could I have missed *this* one!?" so kudos to you for introducing yet another!

And you deserve to sleep in, anyway. You do brilliance the other nine months of the year. Sleep. It's summer.

eisha said...

Dude, for serious, this OSWT is killing me. These sound great. Like I need another book on my pile, much less two.

Love what Amy said. So true.

Thanks (sorta) for the reviews!

Jen Robinson said...

I'm a sucker for a humorous voice. Thanks for the recommendation. I added it to my list.

Sara said...

"You'd think we were making the author swim them to us." (hee-hee. It might be in the contract, you never know.) Thanks for the great review! I'll be looking for both of these.

BTW, I never explain myself when I laugh out loud while reading in public. You just hold up the book in the direction of the starers and tap the cover so they can get a good gander at the author and title. Then you re-commence reading with a smug smile.

d said...

really i love the second book and i didnt understand why she never explained Kiffo. thanks.