So – moving on. I also love how nicely Patterson and Ledwidge provide positive modeling of various aspects in a teenagers life. Daniel has a loving relationship with his parents, albeit sad because they were killed when he was three. But when he recreates them, his interactions are loving and appreciative. Readers experience the ups and downs of his friendships with his friends – Willy, Joe, Emma, and Dana – and also see the dynamics of a triangle between Daniel, his crush, and his pseudo girlfriend. Score one for seeing a teenager have healthy normal relationships that are not perfect. Throughout the novel, readers also get to hear Daniel’s thoughts on book burning, drugs, and skipping school. When he notices one of his beloved books engulfed in flames in the fireplace, Daniel thinks, “What kind of thoughtless creep would burn a book?” Frankly, it is a breath of fresh air to see elements such as these embedded into a quality novel for adolescents. Better yet, it is done with a mildly sarcastic tone that is completely typical of a teenager. If your son or daughter is reading it, they will instantly relate. If you, a parent, are reading it -well…you may feel like you have added one additional child to your house – just for a bit, though.
The length of this book and the chapters is absolutely perfect. The chapters are short and many times end of half pages. Why is this a big deal? Well – because a chapter gives a reader a sense of accomplishment and the fact that they are short is inspiring for any reluctant reader. It gives them a sense of pride that they did it! They were successful and it is not going to kill them to read another chapter. The book is 238 pages in length; I read it in three nights after the children went to bed. I think it is the perfect length for that reluctant reader because it is long enough to inspire pride, but yet not too long to become overwhelming. You know – where you see them turn to the end trying to figure out if they can even get there? A sense of pride and motivation is priceless for a reader that puts most books down because they are either a) too difficult and long or b) too boring.
Patterson and Ledwidge have a winner here in my humble opinion. The Dangerous Days of Daniel X is…well it’s real. It is a superbly written novel that makes you feel like Daniel is your best friend, your son, or next door neighbor. Most teenagers, especially boys, will feel like they have met someone who talks like they talk, thinks like they think, and feels like they feel. From the violence to the sarcasm, it is all tastefully done. The reason we have reluctant readers is because they fell into the cracks and can’t get out. The Dangerous Days of Daniel X offers a way out for that reluctant reader that ALL readers will love. It is a skillfully written novel that they can talk to their friends about, identify with, and just also happens to heighten their level of self-esteem. Gosh -I will take it.