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Free Lunch — Review & Giveaway

Thought for the Day:

“Nobody will stop you from creating. Do it tonight. Do it tomorrow. That is the way to make your soul grow – whether there is a market for it or not! The kick of creation is the act of creating, not anything that happens afterward. I would tell all of you watching this screen: Before you go to bed, write a four line poem. Make it as good as you can. Don’t show it to anybody. Put it where nobody will find it. And you will discover that you have your reward.”
~ Kurt Vonnegut ~

Gifts for My Writer Friends:

We all have to do research and the link HERE which is full of links, will help anyone research whatever they might need to research. This is a TERRIFIC post.

Query letters are so important, and we have to get them right. HERE is a good post from Uninspired Writers about what should be left out of query letters, just as important as what should be in them.

Backstory. We hear a lot about it and don’t always know how to handle it. Janice Hardy at Fiction University has some good hints HERE.

I want to mention a book I just finished reading that I won’t be reviewing here. It’s not a middle-grade book, but I have many readers who aren’t middle-graders who might like it. It is Ordinary Hazards by Nikki Grimes. This is her memoir of her childhood written in free verse. Nikki Grimes did not have an easy childhood and some of this is really hard to read about. But her writing is so extraordinary and gorgeous, that I have to pass the word and recommend it. It’s really a YA, but if you have a very sophisticated, mature middle-grader, maybe this would be fine.

Free lunchThe book I will review (and give away!) today is Free Lunch by Rex Ogle. I always find books by authors about their own adolescence pretty interesting. When I saw this book on the review list for the Tulsa Book Review and saw that Rex Ogle is a DC Comics guy, I thought it should be a good read. Here is the review I wrote for TBR.

Sixth grade is a tough time, especially for kids who feel they don’t fit. Rex is one of those kids. He lives in a crappy apartment with a mother, step-father, and baby brother. There is never enough of anything, especially food, and a whole lot of abuse going on. Rex’s mother is mean, but when she announces he’s on the free lunch program, it’s almost more than Rex can bear. It’s embarrassing. The cashier in the lunchroom makes a big show of looking up his name every day to check it off. For some reason Rex never makes the connection that she has to look through pages of kids to find his name, meaning he is far from alone. Still, the shame he feels is great at being so poor, wearing clothes that don’t fit, not having school supplies, and mostly being on the free lunch program.

Rex Ogle
Rex Ogle

Rex Ogle’s memoir is tough to read. The adult characters are one-dimensional, very bad people. Rex’s anger at his situation is palpable and exacerbates his problems. Young readers may have a tough time getting through this book as there is so little hope, but it’s worth the time.

I have a gently-read ARC of this book for one of you. All you need do is be a follower or subscriber (it’s free!), have a U.S. address, and leave a comment below. If you would like extra chances, please share the link to this post on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media outlet and let me know you have done that. And don’t forget to check for other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at the Greg Pattridge’s blog HERE.

20 thoughts on “Free Lunch — Review & Giveaway”

  1. The links on backstory and query letters were especially helpful to me. Keep them coming!
    Besides historical fiction, a gripping contemporary drama is one of my favorite genres. It sounds like Rex’s story would be all too familiar for many kids. Thanks for featuring on MMGM. I’ll step aside for the giveaway but will be sure to track down a copy when time allows later this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. LOVE that Kurt Vonnegut quote. I hadn’t heard of Rex Ogle’s memoir, so thank you for bringing it to my attention. What an important topic. Please don’t include me in the giveaway, though, because I recently won a book from you and haven’t had time to read it yet!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ll have to check out Janice’s post on backstory. K.M. Weilland just did a post and podcast on this too today that sounds good. This sounds like a great read but I have too many books to read to enter the contest now.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This book will be emotional to read and will be an excellent one for me to pass on to my daughter’s teacher once I read it. I know this book will resonate with too many people out there, unfortunately. I shared on pinterest, tumblr, and twitter. Thanks for the chance!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This one sounds like a tough read, but I appreciated the part you added about how he didn’t make the association between the list of names the cashier had to go through and it meaning that he is not alone. Sometimes knowing you’re not the only one going through a struggle is what makes the struggle much more bearable.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This book doesn’t really appeal to me, as it sounds like a much needed theme in school done in a way that is a turn-off to those who need most to read it and find some consolation. (I may have misunderstood your review, though, so correct me if I’m wrong.) What really grabbed me were the links for research. Wow! What a goldmine. Thanks for sharing this link.

    Liked by 1 person

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