The Best Reader + TIME

Finding Forrester by James Ellison

"It was fun to read about a character (Forrester) who wasn't afraid to be intelligent." — Miss Remmers


"The only tie-in to the Columbia Pictures film starring Sean Connery, directed by Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting) — an inspiring story about the unlikely friendship between a famous, reclusive novelist and an amazingly gifted teen who secretly yearns to be a writer. Set in Manhattan and the South Bronx, William Forrester (Connery), a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist who has not been heard from for four decades, accidentally discovers that Jamal, a brash 16-year-old African-American who plays basketball on the court below his window, keeps a secret journal that shows a real gift for writing. Forrester takes Jamal on as a protege, and the friendship challenges and changes the two of them forever. "

Why I read this: Next semester we will be reading "Finding Forrester" throughout the school during T.E.A.M time (TEAM will be replacing DEAR). The English teachers had to create lessons to go along with book for each 20 minute period.

Plot: While I didn't get too excited about the plot of this novel, it was intriguing — I mean who wouldn't want to meet and befriend a famous Great American Author? There were some great metaphors in this novel about working hard, being true to yourself, but especially in regards to being a scholar and academic, not being afraid to be intelligent. I think our students will relate to these themes of the novel.

Characters: The characters were likable, but because there have been so many movies/books out there about the boy who decides to "be different and work hard" (Step Up), it was hard to stay focused when the author tried to convey to the readers how isolated Jamal had become from his friends. His mom and his teacher, I adored — but again, we've seen so many characters like them throughout film and literature. Forrester was a rare character, one that was read so bitter and intelligent — I've obviously seen movies with characters like that, but I don't think I've found a character in a book that has been so raw and honest in that aspect.

Cover: Mediocre. Didn't draw me to it but didn't push me away. If I were the publishing company I'd want Sean Connery's face on the book too.

Random Thoughts: Unlike most books/movies, this book was written after the movie. So throughout the book all I could think of was Sean Connery's (can we say?) delicious accent.

Final Thoughts: Overall this was an okay book that was a light, fast read. It was fun to read about being scholarly and intelligent — I hope my students can pick those hints out of the book. But as for me personally, it was a bit generic. I'm looking forward to watching the movie to see it in the medium where it was originally meant to be seen.

Originality: 10/10
Ending: 9/10
Characters: 9/10
Plot: 7/10
My reaction/enjoyment: 5/10
Theme: 10/10
Imagery: 10/10
Setting: 5/5
Voice: 5/5
Style: 5/5
Tone: 5/5
Cover: 6/10
Overall: 86/100 B

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Relevant to: Finding Forrester by James Ellison + TIME