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The File on Angelyn Stark Hardcover – Nov 8 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (Nov. 8 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375869069
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375869068
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 2.3 x 21.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 363 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,674,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars 43 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
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Book I feel Honored to Review Feb. 8 2012
By Kristi Gilleland - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I LOVED this book - everything ABOUT this book. The writing and character development is superb - the story line flows and I never - once - felt confused about who was who or had a problem remembering what details went with what person. I never had to reread anything- it just flowed - I started it in the bath and was still reading it long after my water had got cold then drained out slowly on it's own. The only time I quit was when my son knocked on the door to check on me! THAT was a ride- Thank you, Ms. Atkins!

Now some may say that this book is too harsh for teens. I think we protect our teens a lot more these days and that's a good thing, but my generation had much more graphic books than this in the teen section, in fact, there's no real graphic sex in this book, only mentions of sexual acts. Of course, the worst of it deals with teen abuse and neglect.

I spent many years working as a unit director on an adolescent psych unit. I felt great compassion for the main character, Angelyn. Her behavior IS often bad, but that's the consequences of what has happened to her - that's the way she is coping. That's the way her mother is coping. This book is a lot about coping and how sometimes the way we cope can be bad for us - and we can either gain insight and change it, or something happens and we have a crisis and it all comes to a head, or we let it destroy us.

Now I am in a position to continue to be close to several abused and neglected kids. There are kids out there that could really USE a book like this. I hope that school librarians DON'T see it as potentially too controversial to have on the shelves.

I do think adult women will enjoy the book as well. Perhaps we have all had our issues with 'do you care about me or do you care about sex' enough to identify with several of the characters, but especially Angelyn. Perhaps we've all known women that have a lot of conflict about sex, or that used sex so that people would maybe like them.

It's a good lesson to young women, in my opinion. Older girls, I'd say, 15 or up, depending on the teen, could gain a lot from the study of Angeline's behavior, as she tries so hard to be tough, and cool, but she's so wounded, and how she wants deeply to open up and share, and to be liked, but her tough and cool attitude causes her to primarily be around people that are users.

Perhaps young girls will see the beauty in Jen, as she's got her own problems but she's real, brave, and true as a friend. Or perhaps they will get a glimpse into the value of good friends and hardworking young men like Nathan.

I think there's a lot of really, really good values to be learned here, even though the story is about something tragic and perverted.

Please, please- I really encourage school and hospital librarians to consider the value a book like this might have to a young woman struggling with these or similiar issues. I think that therapists might find value in it as well. There's just SO much value in this book.
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
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
4.0 out of 5 stars We all know an learn how she got that way Feb. 20 2012
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.
4.0 out of 5 stars Angelyn is a difficult teen in a tight situation, as sadly so many are today March 2 2013
By Jeri Zerr - Published on
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Angelyn is a difficult teen in a tight situation, as sadly so many are today. Her mom is wrapped up in her life; her friends have tried to be helpful but have only further bungled the situation - especially Nathan. Sound familiar? To go further would require spoiler alerts - no spoilers here so Read This Book!

The File on Angelyn Stark makes a great gift for that teen who loves to read but feels no one understands her.