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The File on Angelyn Stark [Paperback]

Catherine Atkins

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Book Description

Nov. 13 2012
Angelyn Stark has a secret.

One day, her neighbor and friend, Nathan, saw something happen. Something between Angelyn and her stepfather. Then he told his grandmother, who was always looking out for Angelyn, and it turned into a mess. But Nathan didn't know what he was talking about then, and he doesn't know now.

Three years later, Angelyn is in high school and she thinks she's getting along fine—but there's a young teacher who wants to help her. He says she has potential she isn't living up to. Nobody has ever cared this way about Angelyn, not since Nathan's grandmother, anyway. But what does Mr. Rossi really want from her? And once Angelyn starts falling for him, does she really care?

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ember; Reprint edition (Nov. 13 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375873139
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375873133
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 14 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,428,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Starred Review, The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, January 1, 2012:
“Spare and taut… this will resonate with many readers, especially those many teens struggling with the implications of their own identity and sexuality.”

About the Author

CATHERINE ATKINS is the author of When Jeff Comes Home, which was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, an ALA Quick Pick, a Booklist Top Ten First Novel, and an IRA Young Adults' Choice, and Alt Ed, which Kirkus Reviews called "a complex and stellar work" and The Miami Herald called "A must-read for teens."  She is a teacher and lives in Northern California.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  44 reviews
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Searing and powerful Dec 6 2011
By J.Prather - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
The File on Angelyn Stark is an an intense story about one young girl's struggle to recover her sense of self worth, and determine who she is and what she wants. She is coping with an abusive step father, a mother in denial, friends who are anything but, and a boyfriend who's more interested in sex than anything she might have to say.

This is an intense book that sometimes reads more like a character study than a narrative, which is okay, since it's a very good one. Angelyn is not an easy person to like, but her struggles and her dialogue just ring with an air of authenticity that makes you angry one minute and heartbroken the next as you see the damage done to her very character, how it colors all of her actions, and how it stands in her way at every turn.

Teens will be riveted by this fast, emotionally brutal read that really cuts to the heart of the issue of abuse and it's effects. The adults portrayed are not perfect, and as an adult reader I wanted to rail against them for their lack of insight,understanding, and generally just poor decision making. Somehow by the end, I was made to walk in each of their shoes; the teacher dealing with his own personal issues and not quite prepared to help Angelyn even though he ultimately proves his worth, the friends who finally told only to be met with Angelyn's anger, and perhaps most difficult of all, the mother who exhibited such uncaring disregard for her child's welfare.

The characters in this novel all present a level of depth and complexity that is pretty amazing given the novel's length. The author achieves quite a bit in a limited number of pages. I will remember Angelyn Stark, her mother, and her friends for quite a while. All of the characters make a searing impression, illustrating the gray areas and human frailties surrounding so many issues. I will be recommending it often to older teen and adult readers.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Soul-searing, honest portrayal of the stresses facing one teen Feb. 1 2012
By Kcorn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Potential readers or buyers of The File on Angelyn Stark, should know from the outset that this novel clearly - and with some graphic detail - depicts the sex life and confusion of one young woman. There is no judgment here because the reality is that many teens have sex, often with confused emotions, and the novel may well resonate with those that do. It should also appeal to readers because it doesn't provide any sappy or formulaic solutions. An easy, pat ending is an insult to readers who've stuck with a book from start to finish. Luckily, this novel doesn't go in that direction.

So who is Angelyn Stark, centerpiece of this novel? For starters, she is a teen who is full of anger, carrying around a huge secret, one she hides from her mother and nearly everyone she knows. She did tell a friend but wasn't believed so now Angelyn carries her burden alone...and it is quite a burden. It affects her nearly every day.

Unfortunately, the same secret is carried by many other teens in real life. In that regard, the novel accurately portrays the guilt, pain, and shame of those who have gone through similar experiences as Angelyn (and no, it isn't teen pregnancy). Angelyn also has a complicated relationship with her boyfriend, Steve, who doesn't understand why she is alternately warm and cold towards him. He takes her ambivalence personally and things get tense between the two. Then there are Angelyn's friends and a new girl who is about to be a major part of Angelyn's life. Mrs. Daly, a former neighbor, crops up as a reminder of Angelyn's past lies and troubles, but she appears in the novel for a relatively brief time. I'd like to have read more about her and wish she'd gotten more space in the book.

Finally - and to me, the most troubling character in this book - is Mr. Rossi, Angelyn's teacher. At first, he seems to be the only person who is truly there for her. Compassionate, kind, and even willing to cut Angelyn a break after giving her detention, he appears to be the one saving grace in her increasingly bleak life. He could be the role model who proves that there are adults who can be trusted to both listen and provide the clear boundaries and rules which an "adult in training" needs. I hoped he would be...and he is, to some degree.

But Mr. Rossi has his own troubles and how he handles them as well as dealing with Angelyn bothered me. I wish I could go into more detail about that. Mr. Rossi does care about Angelyn but the borders of their teacher/student relationship seemed way too muddy to me, especially after Mr. Rossi talks to school officials about Angelyn. I applauded him for making a much better decision after a series of mistakes. But I was still bothered by this character, many of his choices, and the way his personal life impacted his teaching and his ability to help Angelyn. I felt he revealed far too much about his marriage to her although readers may feel differently. Maybe this will make him seem more human, as complicated as any of us.

Again, readers will probably fall into two camps. There will be those who applaud the author for making Mr. Rossi less than a stereotypical hero. Instead, he has troubles which affect his relationship with Angelyn. Then there are those readers who will be discomfited by Mr. Rossi and even angered.

All in all, there is much about The File on Angelyn Stark which is compelling and the author creates a (mostly) believable portrait of one woman's struggles to persevere during a very rocky period in her life.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Emotional and fresh, with writing that swings back and forth between rich and flat Feb. 15 2012
By dinglefest - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Angelyn Stark is a little mystery and a lot angsty. She would love the world to think she doesn't care about anything, but that's a facade she uses to protect herself from being hurt the way she was when she was growing up. She's been failed by most people in her life, so - while she wants to trust someone - she is hesitant and guarded.

I was expecting at some point for an actual file on Angelyn to come into play, but it never does. Essentially, this book is that file in that it's a character study of a troubled young girl. It didn't blow me away and at times lacked depth, but I enjoyed the interactions between Angelyn and Mr. Rossi as well as the ones between Angelyn and Jeni. The ending was solid and well-written, though, in a refreshingly unexpected way.

I gave it a 3, but would have given it a 3.5 if I could.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book March 22 2012
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I really enjoyed this story. I didn't always like the writing style - I found some of the dialogue stilted and hard to read. But that aside, it was a good book.

Angelyn Stark is a smart but damaged girl. He stepfather repeatedly touched her inappropriately when she was 13 and now she has issues with intimacy, no surprise. She has a boyfriend who pressures her for sex and two "friends" whose loyalty seems to change with the wind. Her mother is the bad mother you hear about who either ignores or flat out doesn't believe the abuse is happening. She treats Angelyn like crap. That's why when Angelyn's teacher, Mr. Rossi, tells her she's smart and shows her some attention, she latches on to him in a way that could be bad for both of them.

There's not much I can say about this book that won't give away too much. The summary on the back cover is rather vague about what happens with the teacher, so I don't want to spoil it. Personally, I found the teacher likable, as well as Angelyn. The story is a bit depressing and you want to strangle Angelyn's mother and "friends", but I didn't find it to be hopeless.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We all know an Angela.....now learn how she got that way Feb. 20 2012
By Lauri Crumley Coates - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
This is a well written YA book. I would venture first to say that those squeamish about sexual situations, bullying, and less savory aspects of teen life would do well to read something else. That said, I found the book to be extremely well written and sadly, true to life of many of the teens I have worked with in my previous years as a social worker. Angelyn has a basically absent mother, too involved in her own problems and romantic life to actually see what is going on right before her eyes. When a neighbor views some questionable behavior by the boyfriend of the mother towards Angelyn, her mother takes the boyfriend's side, and basically throws her daughter to the side. She blames every problem that comes up in the family on her daughter, who is left with no one to turn to except a boyfriend with his own issues and sexual feelings. The boyfriend seems to feel no real need to reach out to Angelyn except on a sexual level. Her only friends seem to be the friends of her boyfriend, and they are fair weather friends to say the least. Then she is befriended by Mr. Rossi, a teacher who sees past her problems and recognizes her potential and intelligence. Not knowing any other way to relate to men, she tends to view the teacher in an inappropriate manner, causing both of them more problems than they need, but leading eventually to a new understanding with the mother, and the potential to a better life for this deserving teen.

I did feel that the novel may have been made better if the author had introduced characters that had the professional skills to help this dysfunctional family through some of their experiences. The ending seemed a bit too "pat" and not necessarily as true to life as it could have been. However, it would make a great read for parents and teens to discuss and use to open a dialogue that could draw them closer together.

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