This Journal Belongs to Ratchet Uses a Tantalizing Technique to Tell a Humdrum Story

Ratchet lives alone with her dad and is home schooled. She wishes that she had new clothes; instead she only has clothes from re-sale shops. She wishes that she knew what it felt like to pursue her own interests instead of just assisting her dad with his interests.

This Journal Belongs to Ratchet is written as Ratchet’s Home school Language Arts Journal. Throughout the book she completes assignments which vary from free verse poetry and descriptive essays to live events journaling. Cleverly the author, Nancy J. Cavanaugh weaves the narrative through the different story telling methods into an overall effective, if not a bit dry and boring tale.

Ratchet is an interesting and endearing character, and her father a funny and compassionate man, but sections of the book become painfully repetitive. At most mentions of Ratchet’s dad, she reminds the reader of how embarrassing he is to her. This happens on almost every single page! He also uses the phrase “Good Lord” so often that the use of “Old Sport” in The Great Gatsby, which occurred a shocking 43 times, fails to be excessive by comparison.

The story itself repeats by sections as well. There is a mystery box in Ratchet’s home that she desperately wants to know the contents of.  The text on and around the box could’ve easily been reduced by a third or more and still had the same effect. Likewise, she is trying to teach a group of boys how to do engine work on go-carts. Again, their learning problems and her teaching issues repeat multiple times..

A particularly inventive English teacher may be able to use this as an example for the various writing techniques but as a pleasure read the story feels predictable and anti-climactic.   

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