Sarah's Stars

Elaine Marie Alphin. Simon Says
Harcourt  $6.95  ISBN 0-15-204678-X  258 pg.
Reviewed by Sarah, Age 15

Simon says … behave yourself in public. Simon says … nod your head … say something.

Charles has never felt accepted. All his life people have been trying to change him, to mould him to what is normal, ordinary or the same as the other kids his age. Charles, however, does not want to be part of the pack, and he reveals this in his artwork. He is always on an entirely different level than his classmates. They drew stick people in preschool and kindergarten while he painted packs of wolves chasing lone figures. In the first grade he was asked to paint a flower and he painted a meadow of wildflowers with a deer looking up as it ate. He was told it was wrong, and a black magic marker daisy was scribbled on his page to represent what was ‘right’. As he grows older he begins to hide his art away, not let people see it because whenever they do, he ends up hurt again. This is the Charles the reader meets in Simon Says: lonely, guarded and cynical. However his life changes dramatically when he arrives at Whitman boarding school, and Simon Says begins.

Simon Says was a moving book, full of hardships and emotion. I found it difficult to follow at times since Charles’ way of thinking is very unusual. I really enjoyed his outlook on life – how different it is from anything I’ve ever read before. The characters are all so complex. I would not recommend this book to anyone under fourteen since there is mature content and at times it is not easy to understand. If you are looking for an insightful story with an entirely new outlook on life, you will enjoy Simon Says. I rate this book four (and a half) stars since there were a few paragraphs I had to go back and read over for clarity.


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