cover image 3 DAYS OFF


Susie Hoch Morgenstern, , trans. from the French by Gill Rosner. . Viking, $14.99 (89pp) ISBN 978-0-670-03511-3

Readers who groan at academia and lengthy books will appreciate both the subject matter and brevity of Morgenstern's (Secret Letters from 0 to 10) novel about a 15-year-old French boy's adventures during his three-day suspension from school. When William blatantly and belligerently answers a teacher's question (she asks him what he's dreaming about, and he answers, "I'd like to rip your skirt off and see what I find underneath"), the principal tells William to leave the premises immediately and not return until the following week. Not wanting to burden his overworked, "permanently exhausted" mother with the news, William keeps his punishment a secret. For the next three days he wanders the streets, unknowingly embarking on a journey of self-discovery. William doesn't have to travel far to receive an eye-opening lesson on how the world outside his high school revolves. His chance encounters with an American drifter, two middle-aged blue-collar workers and a college student studying art history cause him to take a more serious look at the value of education and his own personal goals. Morgenstern shows a keen understanding of both the apathetic attitudes and creative fantasies of hard-to-reach students. Her light-hearted tone and accessible prose will appeal to reluctant and avid readers alike. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)