I am lucky to have the most wonderful Beta Readers, ranging in age from 16-75. Their backgrounds are wide and varied, from high school students, to teachers, to librarians, to government employees and those working in corporate America. I am honored and thankful for their time, their honest feedback and their encouragement. Here is what they said after finishing the book:
I finished your novel over the weekend. Let me reiterate that I love it! That I felt like I was back in the world of high school friendships, relationships, academics, and social life is the highest compliment I can pay your book. You capture so many wonderful details of what life is like for kids at that age. As I read, I found myself constantly incredulous over your attention to detail (the music, the way kids talk, the beautiful and often sad notes, etc.). You nail the enormous role friendships and social cliques play at this time in our lives. As an adult, I read with sympathy and, at times, frustration by the intensity and primacy of these relationships. The bottom line is that you have written a remarkable book! I’m so impressed by your talent and so grateful that you shared it with me.
Julie Walters’ Confessions of a High School Survivor is an engaging look at adolescence from the perspective of a girl named Jennifer Arnold, who is enmeshed in various moral and social dilemmas. While the book begins predictably, it is apparent fairly quickly that this is no surface look at teenagedom. Jennifer is both inherently reflective and simultaneously naive. As she struggles with love, loyalty, family dynamics and loss, she quietly finds greater wisdom in how to navigate relationships. As the novel ends, it is clear that her quiet self-assuredness has prevailed over her previous insecurities. As a teacher well versed in YA literature, I found Jennifer’s first person voice to be authentic and immersive, and most importantly, never preachy. It will appeal to the high school reader and adult YA enthusiast looking for a fresh take on this volatile age.
CONFESSIONS OF A HIGH SCHOOL SURVIVOR focuses on important issues surrounding the development of the fabric of a first love relationship. The relationship is set in the context of a rich variety of the perspectives, foibles, and strengths of family and friends.
Key to the power of the story is the depth of Julie Walter’s portrayal of her characters with understanding and exceptional sensitivity to their capacity to evolve. This capacity is deeply touched by the love relationship, a relationship characterized by freshness, purity, and passion, yet tempered by self- doubts.
The meaningful reach of this book is broad: tackling bullying, self-discovery, compassion, sexuality, empathy and forgiveness. While it may be categorized as a young adult book, the book also speaks not only speaks to those of other age grades, but also to those of other generations. In addition, a number of scenes are significantly enhanced by the author’s knowledge of cooking, event planning, and the possible impact of law-training.
Julie Walters has propelled her readers on a riveting journey of exploration, leaving them eager for what more she has to say/tell them about the provocative topics that she illuminates.
The high school years are a rough time for many young people. They are approaching adulthood and they are trying to figure out who they are, what path they are going to take in life, and where they want to go. This book, through examples experienced by the characters, gives significant insight into what a student might expect in the high school years with respect to friends, acceptance, self-evaluation, and family mores and/or flash points.
The nature of this story calls for its punctuation with some unforgettably poignant moments, which the author provides. One of the elements that creates such a moment is a particularly jarring flash point, which brings to a head a well-crafted buildup of tension. And yet at some level the reader, while mightily jolted, realizes that this scene was carefully foreshadowed although the degree of parental concern expressed in this “prediction” may have been somewhat perplexing at the time.
The author has a great deal to say about the tenets of friendship as well as of family
relationships. This reader appreciated the development of the importance of the camp setting which includes being in the same context for a period of time throughout the day and into the evening for meals, activities, down time, etc. As such, the camp setting adds a familial dimension that is absent in friendships limited to the school year.
I found the book to be a “page turner” even though I think the audience will more likely be younger adults and women of all ages than male readers who are no longer young adults. That said, I indeed got a great deal out of reading the book and I would recommend it. It has important messages, and I felt the flow of the story was compelling.