Open up My Life as a Book, and you’ll immediately be drawn in, whether you’re 9 or 90. Young Derek Fallon, the narrator, has a breezy style and lots of things going on in his life. The good news: It’s summer. The bad news: Derek hates to read, and he’s got a summer reading list. He’s been labeled a “reluctant reader,” and that’s an understatement. He likes to draw, however, and he enjoys making stick-figure drawings to illustrate vocabulary words. These fun drawings appear throughout the book, created by author Janet Tashjian’s 14-year-old son, Jake.
At the heart of Derek’s summer is a mystery: He encounters an old newspaper clipping about a teenage girl who drowned on Martha’s Vineyard while she was babysitting Derek. Derek was just a toddler and remembers nothing, and he naturally wants to know more. His mother doesn’t want to discuss it, so Derek becomes a detective, leading to a series of discoveries and adventures.
By the end of the summer, Derek has barely read one of his three assigned books, but he has learned many lessons. As he explains to his teacher, he learns that “we all mess up sometimes and struggle with things that are difficult. That even if reading is hard, everyone needs stories. I didn’t want to read the books on the list, but I wound up surrounded by stories anyway.”
My Life as a Book is a fabulous, fast-paced choice for reluctant and avid readers alike.