Thursday, May 6, 2010

One Lonely Degree

One lonely degree
c.k. kelly martin

Finn is a ninth grader who is going through multiple serious problems with which she can find no help: her parents are getting a divorce, and she is trying to deal with date rape from the summer. Her friend from childhood, Jersy, moves back into town, and Finn is pleased that he and her best friend are dating. However Audrey’s parents are not pleased, and send Audrey to live with relatives. This leaves Jersy and Finn together, which is natural, but leads to more, creating even more guilt in Finn’s life.

The story is told in flashbacks and in current times, although we are never quite sure when that has changed. As with other Martin novels, the action revolves around a single character, who shows no change from the beginning to the end. It is also difficult to decide who this woman is writing for. Because of the sex and drug use, this should be in high school, although high school teens are more demanding; in addition Finn is only a freshman. The teens who would be interested are in 8th grade. The date rape scene would be difficult for that age.

Not recommended.


  1. A small correction - Finn is actually in tenth grade and the majority of the book is set during the summer following completion of tenth grade.

    According to RAINN stats 15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under the age of 12 and 29% are 12-17. Because of this, in my opinion, it's extremely important to have discussions about sexual assault early. Many high school (and even middle grade) girls are experiencing sexual harassment and even sexual assault while at school (a place we would like to assume is safer than many other environments young people hang out in).

    A recent Canadian survey documenting the rate of gender based violence against young people showed that, "Twenty-nine per cent of Grade 9 girls felt unsafe at school partly due to sexual comments and unwanted looks or touches; 27 per cent of the girls in Grade 11 admitted to being pressured into doing something sexual that they did not want to do." 21% of the students surveyed said that they knew at least one student who was sexually assaulted at school - not harassed but *assaulted*. (

    So unfortunately, sexual violence (or the threat of it) is not something even very young women are unfamiliar with. These are uncomfortable, difficult truths but I don't believe that means we shouldn't talk or write about them.

    Thanks for reading.

  2. The Sex in the Library list is intended for students who are trying to understand love- in all its good and bad forms. Sometimes we recommend books about horrible experiences because those are important too (older lists included Anderson's Speak, and Flinn's Breathing Underwater, for example) We are always looking for new fiction that speaks to a wide variety of these problems, whether a girl or guy. We work with many teens and find them to be particularly discriminatory about writing and so propose on this list only the best -or those we want to steer teens away from. Of course we want everyone to read, read, read! It isn't the subject but the quality of writing that is the object of the review here. We need to care about the characters, care what they do and why they do it- these characters are pretty one dimensional. Teens just are more discriminating than this writing would indicate.


Have you read this book, or another book you think we should consider featuring on the SITL site? Leave your polite and thoughtful opinions here!