Zen and the Art of Faking It by Jordan Sonnenblick

Genre: Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  264

Age Level:  13 and up

RAC Book:  Yes

San Lee has been the new student on many occasions since his family has moved so much.  With each new school San would try to create a new image or persona in order to survive, since he is a geeky Asian kid who frequently gets picked on.  This time things are a little different because San is now alone with his mother and he is angry with his father for their current situation. 

On his first day of school he meets a young lady who calls herself Woody and plays the guitar at lunchtime for money.  He decides he wants to get close to her because she seems like someone who could appreciate different and unique people.  In his history class they begin talking about Zen Buddhism and before he knows it he has led the class to believe that he has practiced this religion for years.  It definitely makes him unique and original, but can he keep it up without hurting his new friends and his mother? 

This story uses Zen Buddhism to illustrate how life in most situations, but especially high school, could be improved if people really thought about their actions and words.  By using Zen, San basically creates a new way to remind students of how to treat each other and live life to the fullest.  Unfortunately, San’s failure to be honest with Woody about his past and true ambitions leads him into trouble.  Once again, Sonnenblick has created a realistic high school character who can be selfish and self-serving, while also showing the ability for c0mpassion and friendship.  The supporting characters are rich and developed to make the story engaging and even a little inspiring.

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