Friday, February 4, 2022

Review: Breaking News by Frank Morelli

Today's book comes from an author, whose work I've read before...or at least, one of them. While his book, On the Way to Birdland , was intended for the young adult audience with deep thoughts and experiences, today's book heads into middle grade territory with a bit of mystery, journalism, and forming friendships. Since this author does have his own style, I was glad when I was offered an ARC copy of this one.

Now, let's see if it was as good as I suspected it might be.

by Frank Morelli
Fitzroy Books
Middle Grade Mystery
ages 8 to 12
176 pages

APRIL 28th!!!

Things don’t usually come to a screeching halt at the RAT, also known as Ridgewood Arts & Technical School, Ridgewood City’s most prestigious progressive institution. But that’s what happens when Headmistress Hardaway interrupts class and announces, “A scandal has rocked the fundraising committee!” Everyone’s a suspect and Hunter Jackson, student council special investigator, vows to root out the student who’s heartless enough to steal donation money or die a death of a thousand forensic notes trying. He’s not alone. Ridgewood Roar news editor, Anthony Ravello, and the rogue, indie-press pioneer, Liberty Lennon, plan to do some journalistic digging of their own in a race against each other to scoop the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth to their faithful readers...or at least their versions of it. With the truth getting murkier by the day, all students at the RAT can do is gobble up news bytes and wash them down with locker-side gossip as they try to unmask the classmate responsible for the missing funds.

Mystery mixes with school drama, journalistic misuse, and odd forming friendships to create an exciting read, which keeps those brain-gears turning until the last page.

Anthony is an editor for Roar, the school newspaper, and knows there are ill-feelings among the newspapers ranks. When a teacher announces that a $1000 has gone missing from a fundraiser, of course, he's ready to report. What he doesn't expect is for Liberty, a girl who had some running in with the main editor, to start up her own indie-paper and report things as she sees it. As new clues pop up and tensions between clubs soar, the rivalry between the two grows. 

The author has done a marvelous job at crafting a gripping, well-woven tale, which hits on several important themes and leaves food for thought. The tale isn't written in a traditional form, but follows the articles, notes, and happenings of the two editors and an investigative reporter. This switch between notes, recordings, personal thoughts, and articles gives an original atmosphere and delivers exactly the information needed at the right time. But it also does so much more than that.

I was surprised how well the characters are done. Each one involved gains quite a bit of depth and personality. As the mud-slinging starts, it's clear that the two editors are letting emotions dribble in more and more. The thoughts behind each ones' behaviors are understandable, and yet, it's clear that each one is making some mistakes. Add that with the mystery, and there's quite a bit going on.

There are several messages wrapped up in these pages. One, is how friendship can be formed under even the most unexpected circumstances. There's also the lesson of controlling tempers and watching words. Then, there's the problem of the editors using the papers to push their own views...which does get out of control. But none of this comes across as preachy. Rather, every moment lets emotions rolls, while the reader tries to figure out who might be behind the missing money. It's definitely an engaging ready, which doesn't leave any time for boredom, and keeps the tale flowing until the very end.

And here he is..

Frank Morelli is the author of the young adult novels On the Way to Birdland (2021) and No Sad Songs (2018), a YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers nominee and winner of an American Fiction Award for best coming of age story. Morelli's fiction and essays have appeared in various publications including The Saturday Evening Post, Cobalt Review, Philadelphia Stories, and Highlights Magazine.

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