Listen to the Recess! Clip
Each spring the local high school sends me a summer reading list, a thoughtful reminder that school vacation is just around the corner. The week after the bell rings, for the end of the year, my library welcomes a steady stream of students in a reluctant and increasing rush to fulfill the summer reading obligation for their next year s English class.
While the list contains more than 40 titles for each grade level, there are usually only a handful of books that the kids really want to read. Last year’s favorite was Into Thin Air. These prized volumes are scarce, and tend to fly out the door early. Latecomers are forced to leave with weightier tomes like such as Don Quixote, or Anna Karenina.
This year, as I browsed the list, a new title leapt out at me. Without knowing anything about the novel, I bet that it was the one that every eleventh grader would want to read. The novel is called email@example.com written by Arne Tangherlini for Leapfrog Press.
The novel has been called a kind of “Alice in Cyberland” and the description is apt. The story follows an Asian-Italian-American teenager named Leo, short for Leonora, through a life-altering virtual adventure. Leo escapes the unhappiness she feels at school and at home by retreating into an online world called Aperion. But when her one friend, a schoolmate named Bri, is lost inside the game, Leo sets out on a virtual rescue. With the help of a monk named Fra Umberto, Leo discovers that pieces of Aperion are disappearing being siphoned away into a more sinister virtual realm called Dlon.
As Leo sinks further and further into Dlon s surreal landscape, we begin to fear for her safety and her sanity. She must overcome her own fears, and resist her impulse to return home and end the game, for if she does not complete her task, Bri and possibly all of Aperion will be lost forever.
If you know a teenager who spends a good deal of time immersed in virtual worlds, or is looking for a fantasy more challenging than Harry Potter, give them a copy of firstname.lastname@example.org. Told in a hip, edgy, style that is sure to appeal to young people, this is that rare book that will captivate the avid readers, and persuade the reluctant ones.