Junior year turned out to everything James didn't expect it to be, starting with his ex-girlfriend, Sadie.
"We stand at the edge, the brink of total global disaster. The time for stopgap, feel-good solutions is over. It is time to act boldly, fearlessly, at the root of the problem. We must destroy all cars, for what they do, for what they stand for. We must break the mindset that makes it impossible to see beyond our own most immediate needs. We must destroy all cars, because if we don't, they will destroy us."
James Hoff, high school junior, loves to denounce the acquisition-oriented culture that he lives in, the culture that preaches that we'd all be better off if we just had more stuff — which is why we have cars — so we can haul all that stuff around and pollute the planet even faster. But Mr. Cogweiller, his English teacher, is getting tired of reading James's over-the-top rhetoric. His "destroy all cars" paper earned only a C+.
Sadie Kinnell wrote her paper on recycling, and got an A. She and James went out last year, but she is the kind of activist he can't stand — having meetings, signing petitions, and waving banners, trying to get things changed. James prefers a more direct approach — overthrow the oil companies. But in spite of their political differences, James hasn't been able to forget her, even though it's obvious she's moved on. Then he gets the news that she's broken up with her boyfriend, and is available again. Suddenly James is seeing her everywhere, at school, or the library, or the mall. And even as he watches her, he wonders what would happen if they got back together again. Sadie has a lot of power — she's pretty, she's smart and she makes every other girl look like a brainless slug.
Maybe James can't destroy all cars and save the world, but surely he can control his own life and make sure Sadie's a part of it again.
This booktalk was written by Joni Richards Bodart, university professor, consultant, librarian, and booktalking expert.