Roaring Orchards School for Troubled Teens in upstate New York is under the direction of Aubrey, a man with a somewhat unconventional system for rehabilitating teens from their suicidal, self-harming, depressive, or just generally wild states. This is the convoluted home of Dan Josefson’s That’s Not a Feeling, published by what is becoming my favorite publishing company, SOHO. (I never thought I’d have a favorite publishing company, but after interacting with them at two conferences and reading the books they publish, I can’t help but hold them in very high esteem. Call me a nerd if you want. I’ll own that.)
The many veritable characters in this book are what make it so fascinating and un-put-down-able (is there a better word for this)? Suicidal Benjamin narrates the story of his first year at Roaring Orchards, complete with making friends with a known biter who carries around a felt-wrapped teddy bear named Burn Victim (her silent witness). Together they set (accidental) fires, alone they bite, they attack with axes, and they break down from the unsureness of simply being a hormonal teen (that has been caged inside of a rather unorthodox rehab facility).
I like that the book presents so many opportunities for the reader to ask “What would I do?”. Of course, you don’t ask/answer as you’re reading. Only afterwards, when you’re sipping coffee or watching TV and it hits you. Check out the book trailer here:
This is not being marketed towards teens, but it will absolutely appeal to those teens who enjoy reading adult novels with advanced language. (As a matter of fact, for the second time this week I am going to recommend a book to the Alex Award committee.) This book is one of those that requires you read every word, every sentence. No skipping around here, folks. The pages are too dense with words and meaning, that skipping means you’ll miss something.