The Cruisers, by Walter Dean Myers
The deal: I wanted so much to like this book. It's the first in what will apparently be a series, and it's about smart African American kids in Harlem. There aren't enough books about African American kids who are really succeeding, especially for this age level.
How far I got: p. 46 (of 126)
Why rejected: The narrator--a black kid living in Harlem--doesn't have a believable voice. He says things like, "I simply had to do my homework." Who says that? Even I don't say that and I'm lame.
I often wonder if kids notice that stuff as much as I do, though. It's a dealbreaker for me, and yet I can imagine recommending this book to some middle school kids.
Room, by Emma Donoghue
The deal: Boy is raised entirely in a single room because his mother is the captive and slave of a horrible, horrible man.
How far I got: Maybe about ten pages.
Why rejected: I didn't really reject this book, I just couldn't take it. Sometimes I over-identify with book characters. I skipped to the end and read the last few chapters, then asked a friend what happened in the middle.