It’s not often that you find a young adult novel written in a journalistic style, but Breaking News by Frank Morelli is one that does this presentation justice. Told from three perspectives, this story uses a blend of journalistic styles to recount the events that ultimately lead to a crime being solved. I appreciated how each of the characters has a unique voice, and the excellent writing makes the story flow easily and read quickly. A choice amount of strong language is included, which helps to bridge the gap between an upper middle grade and an early young adult focus without being overwhelming or distasteful. Overall, this is a unique and memorable approach to the young adult genre. Please see my full review below!
Ridgewood Arts and Tech is a school that is filled with bright students all focused on achieving their respective goals. But when one thousand dollars goes missing from a school-based fundraiser, the two halves of the student body are pitted against one another, pointing fingers and passing blame based on the evidence at hand. Luckily, there are two dedicated journalists and one student council investigator who are determined to get to the bottom of the scandal and bring the culprit to justice. Working independently at the outset, these three students collect information that point to the person responsible for the crime; and, as the truth becomes evident, their combined efforts make the evidence even more convincing.
This early young adult novel is presented in an atypical and intriguing manner, utilizing several journalistic approaches to share the story with readers. Told from the perspectives of three students, the story includes details each one uncovers in the style with which they recount information. Their individual voices are clear and easy to discern—even without the headers that appear at the beginning of each section—which adds to the integrity of the storytelling. As seekers of truth, the characters divulge information through newspaper articles, stream-of-consciousness note taking, and detailed memos which readers must decipher in order to piece together the events within the narrative. This design makes the story read easily while simultaneously engaging readers’ deductive reasoning skills.
Young adult readers with an interest in journalism and mysteries will appreciate the design of this story as they solve the crime along with the characters themselves. While the culprit is clear from early on in the story, it is nonetheless compelling to observe as the characters draw their own conclusions. Both journalists featured in this story become more adept at collaboration through their individual experiences, which helps to justify their behavior as the story resolves. Because of the fact-based approach to this story and its brief overall timeline, there is not much room for characters to grow and mature, but there is enough of an arc to keep readers empathizing with their experiences. This is a unique and well-written shorter novel for early young adult readers.
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