HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Losing It
Author: Erin Fry
Publisher: Amazon Children’s Publishing, 2012
Language level: 3
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: For ages 10 and up, but I would say no younger than 13
Rating: 3 stars (FAIR)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Fry, Erin. Losing It (published in 2012 by Amazon Children’s Publishing, P. O. Box 400818, Las Vegas, NV 89149). Could running be more than just a sport activity to do after school? Thirteen-year-old Bennett Robinson faces several problems. His mom died of cancer when he was five, and he still misses her. Since then, his and his father Paul have assuaged their sorrow by engaging in their favorite pastime of eating burgers and fries while watching Los Angeles Dodgers baseball games. As a result, both of them have become grossly overweight. Then Bennett’s dad has a stroke, is in the hospital for a while, and goes to a rehabilitation facility for therapy. But he needs to make a certain amount of progress or the insurance will stop paying. So Bennett has to go live with his mother’s sister, Aunt Laura, who doesn’t exactly like the way his dad has been raising him, and her family. On top of that, the eighth-grader and his best friend P. G. Gomez, who is also overweight, are mercilessly teased at school by a boy named Luis and his gang. Life seems tough for Bennett.
Thus, when Bennett sees the flier at school announcing tryouts for the cross-country team, something tells him that this might be a good thing, a way of standing up for himself, and he signs up. But after that, Luis’s teasing gets worse, and even P. G. seems to turn against him. So the question is, will Bennett keep up with it, or will he give in to the temptation to quit? There is a good story here that deals sensitively with a number of important issues which many kids face or see—childhood obesity, grief at the loss of a loved one, bullying at school, a stroke in the family, even working with insurance companies. Some genuinely funny scenes appear, and it has a feel-good ending. However, the beneficial qualities are marred by a couple of objectionable elements. One is some boy-girl activity such as references to dancing, flirting, and dating which are common to public school experiences but which some parents might not think are appropriate for thirteen year olds and younger since the target age is ten and up. An example is that Bennett notices that a girl looks good in jeans when bending over. Kids need to be reading this stuff?
But to me, even worse is the language. Thankfully, there is no actual cursing, but in addition to some common euphemisms and childish slang terms (heck, dang, butt, pee), the name of God is used as an interjection a few times, “all hell” is said to break loose, and a number of near vulgarisms occur. For instance, due to Bennett’s size, there is a mention of “boy boobs.” Do ten year olds need to be reading about that? I suspect that these kinds of things are used to make the dialogue sound “realistic.” However, I must admit that I got really tired of reading all the “this sucks” and “that’s crap” (even “holy crap” on one occasion) and something else “pi**es off” someone—not just a few times but over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again (do you get my drift?). Yeah, I know that some kids talk like that. But maybe they wouldn’t if they read books with better language in them. And they don’t need to talk that way; the fact is that some kids don’t because they’re brought up better. I guess that some parents today just don’t care any more what kind of language their kids read—and maybe even use—but many still do. The bottom line is that this is a good story which is not well told. At least, I’m not sure that I would feel comfortable letting a ten year old read it if I had one—maybe a thirteen year old, but even then with reservations.