I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth
Narrator: Eric Gansworth
Length: 10 Hours 20 Minutes
Published by Scholastic Inc. on 2013-07-30
Genres: Bullying, Friendship, Native American, People & Places, Social Issues, United States, Young Adult
Buy on Amazon
Lewis "Shoe" Blake is used to the joys and difficulties of life on the Tuscarora Indian reservation in 1975: the joking, the Fireball games, the snow blowing through his roof. What he's not used to is white people being nice to him -- people like George Haddonfield, whose family recently moved to town with the Air Force. As the boys connect through their mutual passion for music, especially the Beatles, Lewis has to lie more and more to hide the reality of his family's poverty from George. He also has to deal with the vicious Evan Reininger, who makes Lewis the special target of his wrath. But when everyone else is on Evan's side, how can he be defeated? And if George finds out the truth about Lewis's home -- will he still be his friend?
Acclaimed adult author Eric Gansworth makes his YA debut with this wry and powerful novel about friendship, memory, and the joy of rock 'n' roll.
Why Did I Listen To This Book?
If I Ever Get Out Of Here by Eric Gansworth uses music as a huge theme and is a historical fiction young adult book. These two elements are among my favorite things to read. Originally, I had a copy of If I Ever Get Out Of Here from Netgalley, unfortunately it was one of those ones that you could only open with Adobe Digital Reader and thus, it expired unread. Luckily, I received access to an audiobook version which actually fits my life at the moment perfectly — I’ve been on the go so much that an audiobook is much valued. I quite valued my experience listening during my down time.
What’s The Story Here?
Eric Gansworth’s If I Ever Get Out Of Here is about Lewis, a boy who lives on the Tuscarora reservation but goes to school off of the reservation. Unfortunately, for Lewis he has picked up some social cues that don’t quite aid him in his interactions with white people. For example, he thinks it’s okay to give his classmates rude nicknames like ‘Blimp-head’ and ‘Spacey’. His classmates, though, see this as mean and so kind of avoid him. Still, Lewis is a smart kid and finds himself on the honor track. When George’s family is stationed at the nearby army base, Lewis finds a new friend and entry into a whole other world that is quite different from his life on base. To me, If I Ever Get Out Of Here is about navigating those tenuous strands of friendship.
What Kind Of Meaning Did I Take From This Story?
Well, Lewis is from one of the poorer families on the reservation. He actually shares a room with his uncle instead of having his own room. One of the kids who has visited his house makes cracks about keeping their shoes on because his house is just not that nice. Despite this, Lewis has a good relationship with his mother and with his Uncle Albert. I actually loved the scenes where Uncle Albert would show up because he’s totally a fun uncle who is wise and I just love that sort of characterization. Anyways, I bring all this up because Lewis is embarrassed to have George, a white kid, visit his house because it’s not as nice as George’s and because he is embarrassed of what George will think of him. I did connect with this a little bit in that, like Lewis, I grew up without a lot of means. I am actually glad this book exists because it’s so rare to me to find a young adult book featuring a protagonist who is not well off. It’s always a bit hard for me to relate to these books where the kids jetset all over the world and whose parents have made them college funds lol, so, it was just nice reading about a character who has a family that struggles. It’s nice that his family is not demonized for not having means, but instead his mom is portrayed as hardworking. Like, yay Eric Gansworth for not falling into poverty stereotypes, I appreciate that.
Lewis finds himself navigating between the world of a 1970s Tuscarora Indian kid and the world outside his reservation. The cultures are different and this is not a bad thing, but again, can be difficult to navigate. I thought this was interesting and profound, because it’s a reality that it can be different when you are not from the dominate cultural group and have to enter the world of that dominate cultural group and maybe don’t play by all that group’s rules.
Also, finally, I want to say that The Beatles and Paul McCartney and Queen play a huge role in the story and I just love how Lewis and George and actually George’s dad and Uncle Albert all connect over music.
How’s The Narration?
At first, I was not into the narration of If I Ever Get Out Of Here because it’s author narrated and I am more a fan of professional non-author narration. But, I think Gansworth’s narration lends a certain credence to the book. In all, it’s a relatively easy 10 hours or so of listening and well, I think I would recommend this via audiobook if you’re really busy. Otherwise, go for the print or ebook version.