Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Review: The View from Saturday

Title: The View from Saturday
Author: E.L. Konigsburg
Publisher: Aladdin Paperbacks
Publication Date: January 1st, 1996
Genre: Junior Fiction, Realistic Fiction

When Mrs. Olinksi returns to teaching ten years after she became paraplegic in a car accident, she uses a uncustomary method when choosing the four sixth grade students to represent her class in the Academic Bowl. Mrs. Olinski could have picked anyone, but instead she chose Nadia, Noah, Ethan and Julian. Nadia has an interest in sea turtles and is the owner of a genius dog. Noah is a know-it-all who recently became the best man at a wedding at the last minute. Ethan is the overlooked younger brother and is enchanted with the musical The Phantom of the Opera. Julian went to boarding school in England and doesn’t fit in upstate New York. However, it is he who brings everyone together when her invites his three classmates over for Saturday afternoon tea. Together, they make the best Academic Bowl team their school has ever seen, nicknamed the Souls. No sixth grade team has ever qualified before, beating the eighth graders, and the Souls go on to conquer the competition. Together, the Souls compliment each other and make the perfect team. When Mrs. Olinski returned to teaching she had fears about how much sixth graders may have changed over the past ten years. But did she choose them or did they choose her?

This book came out when I was a kid, and I remember constantly hearing it praised. However, I never read it, mainly because back then I usually read mainly adventure and fantasy books. I finally read it on vacation this year, while we were driving through Georgia. At first, I wasn’t too interested in this book and didn’t like the section that was from Noah’s perspective. I didn’t like how the narration switched from third person to first person is each of the Souls’ chapters. While I still feel that a third person narration for the whole book would have worked better, things picked up and I ended up loving the story. Structurally, it felt more like a short story than a novel to me, perhaps because the plot mainly focuses on a small part of each character’s background and on the competition. We get to see a part of each character’s journey and how they know the answers to certain questions. I liked the characters, especially Julian, and how they reacted to certain things life throws at them. However, as I said before, each of their sections would have been more enjoyable if told in the third person. The moment I knew I loved this book was when Julian creatively invited everyone to his tea party. I thought that the story and the characters were unique and memorable. To be honest, this is a very simple story and I’m not sure if I would have appreciated it when I was nine or so, since I preferred books with lots of excitement. Now, I can appreciate books like this one that might not be action packed but are sweet stories about friendship. The View from Saturday is a charming book about what really makes a team.

4/5

“By the time they get to 6th grade honor roll, students won't risk making a mistake, and sometimes to be successful, you have to risk making mistakes.”

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