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A Reader of Fictions: Be True to Your School - The Beach Boys

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Be True to Your School - The Beach Boys

Also Known as Rowan Pohi

Ralph Fletcher
Pages: 199
ARC Acquired from: Clarion Books via NetGalley

Brief Summary:
Bobby Steele and his two best friends always hang out at IHOP, the only restaurant in town where the waitstaff doesn't mind if you just buy a drink but stay for hours. The three of them are students at Riverview, the local public high school. Also frequent patrons of the IHOP are the Stoneys, students of prestigious Whitestone Academy. When Bobby and hid buds find an application to Whitestone on an IHOP table, they decide it would be funny to send in an application for an imaginary student. They do so, creating Rowan Ian Pohi (IHOP backwards), and then mostly forget about the prank, little expecting him to get it...only he does. Things get really crazy when Bobby decides to become Rowan.

It took me a while to get into this brief novel. Honestly, I was not amused by the antics of Bobby and his friends; I really don't see what's so funny about submitting a faked application to the local private high school. Plus, while I feel bad for Bobby's bad home life (father infamous for having once attacked their mother with an iron, after which she split and has not been heard from since), I wasn't too invested in it. Once he assumed the identity of Rowan Pohi, though, the story, and his life, really took off.

Of course, I want to say right now that nothing about this story is remotely believable, despite this being realistic fiction. For one thing, they would not have accepted Rowan without transcripts. Paperwork is what makes the modern world function; this is not the age where people can easily escape themselves. Also, repeated mention was made of the fact that Whitestone Academy has a rifle range. What the hell kind of high school has a rifle range? That's just asking for a lawsuit. On top of that, there is no way at all that a private school possessed of an Olympic-sized swimming pool, amazing food, a 5:1 teacher student ratio, a rifle range and a brand new planetarium would cost only $5,000 dollars a semester. I know people who send their children to private school and it costs more than that without all of those extras.

Suspending this disbelief, though, this is a pretty fun middle grade caper. It's interesting to see how he blends into the school, and I couldn't help being glad that he got to go there, since he clearly has so much more potential than his high school would ever be able to make use of. Fletcher also made some interesting observations on spousal abuse and persecution, despite not focusing on those points too heavily.

Also Known as Rowan Pohi could be a good read for reluctant readers, with pretty easy language and a lot of dialogue.

"So be true to your school now
Just like you would to your girl or guy
Be true to your school now
And let your colors fly
Be true to your school"

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