Adventures in Reading

“But the one thing you learn during war is that you can’t pick and choose, and in the end, pretty much everyone is a loser.” Ruth Ozeki’s “Jiro” from Click

In my experience there is nothing wrong with judging a book by its cover. In fact, I have discovered many books simply by taking a risk on the cover art. At work I walked by the novel Click and found myself turning back, and I could barely believe that the cover was a plain dust jacket and not a layered cardboard design – the camera just looked too real to be a photo. It was only after I picked up the book that I discovered how brilliant this book could be.

Click is a young adult novel written by ten authors (Linda Sue Park, David Almond, Eoin Colfer, Deborah Ellis, Nick Hornby, Roddy Doyle, Tim Wynne-Jones, Ruth Ozeki, Margo Lanagan, and Gregory Maguire) and the proceeds are donated to Amnesty International. The actual story these ten authors tell is about the legacy of the fictional photojournalist George “Gee” Keane and this man’s influence and effect on those he encountered during his life. The story is told through a variety of voices including Gee’s grandchildren and the subjects of his portraits.

As a whole Click is an easy, interesting, and fun read. With the holidays fast approaching Click is the perfect book to take on an airplane or to snuggle up with over a hot cup of chocolate. The book is described as “one novel ten authors,” but this perhaps is not entirely true. However, it is also not a short story collection. Click is a frame story where each author writes a new “frame” that develops the plot as a whole. In some ways the actual physicality of the text – or at least the terminology describing the text – sustains the idea of photography. Other continuing themes in the book reflect Gee’s grandchildren’s inheritance: his grandson Jason receives a package of autographed photos and his granddaughter Maggie receives a box containing seven seashells.

I admit that in addition to the dust jacket that I picked up this book after seeing Nick Hornby and Roddy Doyle were contributing authors. Otherwise I very well may have passed it by. Some chapters were certainly stronger than other chapters and I now need to spend some time with books by David Almond and Ruth Ozeki. My least favorite chapter was actually the first chapter by Linda Sue Park. I had never read anything by Park, but I found her chapter the least engaging and original of the collection. Regardless of the one weak chapter, Click is a terrific book to pick or to give to a young adult in your life.