pinned

Pinned by Sharon G. Flake

Autumn is the only female wrestler at school, but that doesn’t stop her from excelling.  Her physical strength and her mental agility are formidable.  However, she can’t seem to apply that same effort to her school work.  She is several grades behind in reading and failing math.  Adonis, on the other hand, loves school and is known as one of the smartest kids in their 9th grade class.  In a wheelchair because of birth defects that left him without legs, Adonis survived a bullying attack that almost killed him.  These two people, both struggling with big issues in their lives, tell their stories in alternating chapters.  Neither character is perfect.  Despite her strength, Autumn is needy and pushy.  Adonis is proud and disdainful of those who will not try to excel.  They aren’t really even friends, but Autumn wishes they were so much more. 

Flake has refused here to make the book you think you are reading.  She has a heroine who is strong physically and mentally, yet will make readers cringe with her headlong flirtation with Adonis.  Adonis could have been that saintlike disabled character that everyone would have recognized.  Instead here he is prickly and judgmental not only of Autumn but of everyone around him.  He lives in a life of certainty where he can peg people easily into categories.  Flake beautifully ties these characters into their families where Autumn’s parents have GEDs and also have issues with reading.  On the other hand, Adonis’ mother is educated and making sure that Adonis will have a bright future academically.  They are studies in contrasts, and yet also studies in similarities as they both struggle with disabilities.

The writing here is strong and forthright, speaking directly to the reader.  The book rests on the heads of its two narrators, both of whom see the world in a specific way that is their own.  As their relationship slowly turns into something more serious, readers will be surprised to find that not all of the loose ends are tied up neatly.  Adonis remains aloof and hyperaware of the opinions of those around him.  Autumn stays flirtatious and continues to struggle with school.  There is nothing magical here.  This is life, and it continues clearly after the book ends.

This should be very popular with middle school readers who will enjoy the complex and surprising characters as well as the thread of romance.  Appropriate for ages 13-15.

Reviewed from ARC received from Scholastic.