Review of This is What I Did by Ann Dee Ellis

1455884Rating: 2.5/5

Published: January 1st, 2007 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Length: 176 pages

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Social Issues

Source: Borrowed from library

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Imagine if you had witnessed something horrific. Imagine if it had happened to your friend. And imagine if you hadn’t done anything to help. That’s what it’s like to be Logan, an utterly frank, slightly awkward, and extremely loveable outcast enmeshed in a mysterious psychological drama. This story allows readers to piece together the sequence of events that has changed his life and changed his perspective on what it means to be a good friend and what it means to be a good person.

This is What I Did: is a powerful read with clever touches, such as palindrome notes, strewn throughout the story and incorporated into the unique design of the book.

I’m not entirely sure what I think about this book. It was a pretty good and very quick read, but it wasn’t anything spectacular and I doubt it’s going to have any lasting impact on me at all.

Two things initially drew me into this book: I was looking for a quick read and I like books with a unique format. The format is definitely unique – there aren’t chapters, but rather short sections that range from a line to about  two pages that are separated by small pictures/icons. The format makes an already very short book go by even quicker. I read this in only about two hours.

There are a couple of problems I had with this book. First of all, I wasn’t really a fan of the narration. It’s narrated in first person and it’s very much a “train of thought” type of narration. You’re essentially reading his direct thoughts without any “filter” or anything (I’m not sure what to call it, really). While this probably wouldn’t usually bother me, Logan’s way of thinking about things was odd. For example, take a look at this passage from the book:

Here’s when I met Zyler’s dad: Not for a long time until like the summer after fourth.

Here’s why: When we had to do the diorama thing, we always did it at my house. Zyler said we couldn’t go over to his or anything.

Thankfully, this is not how he narrates the whole book but even his more “normal” narration was quite odd. There wasn’t anything wrong with it, but it was just not a narration style that I enjoyed. Maybe you will.

The story isn’t told in a linear timeline either. We jump around quite a bit from present-day and the past. Enough books do this so it didn’t seem super unusual or anything, but it could be difficult to tell in what order these things were happening. I think it was told in this way so you could try to piece together what had happened that was causing Logan so much distress, but I do think it would’ve been nice if it was a bit more clear when certain things were happening.

The plot itself was okay, but it didn’t seem like anything I hadn’t read before. It deals with bullying, traumatic events, abuse, etc. So be careful if any of those topics could be triggering for you. I think I might have enjoyed the plot more if I could tell the order in which things were happening and/or I didn’t dislike the narration so much.

One thing I was really happy about with this book is that there’s a therapist who is actually portrayed positively! This seems to be really rare in any kind of media so I always get excited when therapists or counselors are portrayed positively. Logan is initially skeptical about meeting with him, but admits towards the end of the book that seeing a therapist has been helpful. Even when he’s skeptical about meeting with him, the therapist isn’t portrayed negatively.

I don’t have a whole lot else to say, given that the story is so short. Logan’s the only character I felt I really got to know and as I’ve mentioned, I didn’t care for his narration style and because of that, I found it hard to connect with him.

Overall, this was okay but it won’t stick with me. If you’re looking for a really quick read, give it a shot. I would’ve liked this book a lot more if Logan’s narration didn’t annoy me so much, but maybe you’ll like the unique narration. I think a lot of what I didn’t like really just came down to personal taste and isn’t a reflection of the author’s writing at all.

2.5 stars

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