Sharon Flake's young adult novel shows high school at its best and worst and gets to the heart of its two teenage main characters.
If your memories of high school freshman year keep you up at night, consider Autumn Knight. Her talents include wrestling and cooking. Her problem? She doesn't know when to stop and she never shuts up. The object of her affection, some might call it an obsession, is Adonis, a bright, articulate, highly motivated young man who just happens to have been born with no legs.
Narrated by the two schoolmates, Pinned is a brilliantly told story for the younger end of the young adult spectrum. The novel begins with Autumn's funny, brash voice. Autumn loves her wrestling team, struggles with schoolwork, and has more self-assurance – and more attitude – than most teenagers acquire in a lifetime.
While Adonis's disability is obvious, Autumn's unfolds slowly. She feels smart when she wrestles – "like I know the answer to every problem every time." In her schoolwork, she rarely does. Because her grades are falling, her parents threaten to force her off the wrestling team until she gets her marks up. Because she struggles to read, that isn't happening in time for the big wrestling match.
So what could these two characters possibly see in each other? Right off the bat, Autumn mouths off about Adonis to her best friend: "One day he gonna be my boyfriend." But Adonis is not interested in a girl who can't seem to learn, talks way too much, and is determined to elbow her way into his life, whatever the cost. Adonis claims to have more interest in succeeding in school than he does in anything else. And that includes Autumn.