Please note: This is a critical review. A overall review will not be provided for this book.
No Clue, Aka Sean by Rita Williams-Garcia is the companion piece of Sean + Raffina by Terry Trueman and vice versa. Through these two short stories, readers can see the point of view of the boy and girl as they try to start a romantic relationship. In a few short pages each, Williams-Garcia and Trueman reveal a lot of information through voice.
According to Julie Wildhaber
, “Voice is the distinct personality, style, or point of view of a piece of writing or any other creative work.” Voice is often conveyed from a mixture of things, namely word choice and sentence structure. Williams-Garcia and Trueman have developed very different voices. Even though the narrators are talking mainly about the other person, reveal a lot of information about the narrators.
In two paragraphs we know that Raffina is a confident, black teenage girl who is perhaps a bit aggravated with her love interest:
What a bug-out. Here I am watching you pretending not to watch me. I’m not turned off by shy, but shy will get you sitting by your lonesome. Shy will get you watching from the sidelines while I’m stepping out with some other guy. Come on, Sean. Let’s get in the game. Say those two words as only you can say them: Hey, Raffina.
I have to admit the whole shy thing is part of the appeal. Sean’s a complete switch from what I’m used to dealing with. A girl can’t eat a hoagie in the caf without some playa rolling up, trying to get those digits. Now that’s a turnoff. Guys assuming too much, too soon. It’s not just because I’m fine–which I am, but because I’m Gary’s sister. The Highlander Hero. Holds the state record for the most triple doubles in a season. Scores thirty-two points on a slow day. So you know what that means. Everybody’s scouting. Recruiting. Rubbing up on him, trying to get to know him. Yeah. Even if they have to go through me to be in with Gary. The guys want to part of the entourage. The chicks want to be the girl in the prom picture when ESPN takes a look back on the life of Gary Frazier. (p. 103)
Outside of what Raffina actually tells us, we learn a lot by how the narrator speaks, thinks and the vocabulary she uses. Words like “bug-out”, “stepping out”, “caf”, and playa” all let us know she’s a teenager. Lines like Come on, Sean, lets readers know of Raffina’s discontent with Sean. There is also a rhythm to the words that mimic the African-American cadence.
With Sean we get a totally different voice. In two paragraphs we have the same affect, learning more about the characters than they are actually saying through voice:
Her name is Raffina, pronounced “ruff-eena.” I’m not even sure I’m spelling it right. Maybe it’s spelled Ruffina, but I don’t so. I glanced at a homework assignment she turned in for Human Relations 2, and I’m pretty sure it was an a not a u. Whatever, it doesn’t matter what her name is, or how she spells it anyway–what matters is that I wanna hit on her, and I’m not sure if I should or how to even start.
She’ll be the first girl I’ve tried to ask on a date since I got TKO’d in the seventh grade. That’s if I ask her. I’m not sure about that yet. If you’d been coldcocked by a petite blonde when you were thirteen, you might hesitate to think of yourself as God’s great-red-hot-lover-boy gift to girls too. I owe my nondating history to Debra Quarantino. (p. a111)
The reference to homework and the slang, like “wanna hit on her” and “TKO’d”, let us know that Sean is also a teenager. The minimum rhythm to the sentences makes it read like a caucasian is the speaker in this one. He isn’t as aggressive as Raffina comes across, nor aggravated with his love interest. He just seems, as Raffina accuses him of in her story “shy.”
With the help of word choice and sentence structure, Rita Williams-Garcia and Terry Trueman create voices that convey a lot of information by letting the narrators’ voice speak louder than their words.
Crutcher, Chris, Joseph Bruchac, James Howe, Ellen Wittlinger, Rita Williams-Garcia, Terry Trueman, Terry Davis, Rebecca Fjelland Davis, Sara Ryan, and Randy Powell. Girl Meets Boy: Because There Are Two Sides to Every Story. Ed. Kelly Milner Halls. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle, 2012. Print.
Wildhaber, Julie. “Understanding Voice and Tone in Writing.” Web log post. Grammar Girl :. N.p., 1 July 2010. Web. 09 Sept. 2012. .