“Bobby Steele and his friends Big Poobs and Marcus are bored, waiting for tenth grade to start at dreary Riverview High. So the idea of inventing an imaginary kid and writing up an application for him to attend Whitestone Academy, a fancy prep school, is kind of appealing–fun, even. Name: Rowan Pohi. Grade average, hobbies and activities, a letter of recommendation from a nonexistent football coach…no problem.
But then–a surprise! Rowan’s application is accepted.
The boys agree that it’s time to back off and put the whole prank to rest. But Bobby is having second thoughts. Rowan has a chance at everything he–Bobby–wants, and Rowan doesn’t exist. Why shouldn’t Bobby claim it for himself?”
Identity. In a world that has more than a billion people, and in an age where everyone is connected somehow, we’re always trying to assert ourselves, establish ourselves, and basically tell everyone that we are unique. And we are. But what about those people who would rather be someone else? The ones who want to escape from the lives they’re living now?
This is the story of Also Known As Rowan Pohi. What starts out as a joke begins a lying game where our main character has to choose between being who he is, and who he wants to be known as. It deals with the issue of escape, of how your family defines you before you can define yourself, and the freedom of being given a clean slate.
I think it’s the perfect novel for high school kids who are about to enter college. Well, the ones here in the Philippines anyway.
What age do we graduate from high school? 15 or 16. We enter college at the time when we’re not yet adults, and yet we’re given the chance to be one. Even if it’s just at school. Suddenly, the world we’ve known since we were kids have been exponentially expanded, and you can start anew with your life. This is when you start to experiment, start to see yourself away from your family, the friends you made–this is when you find you.
Bobby Steele, our protagonist, isn’t in that place yet. He’s still in high school. But he’s the age we are when we enter college. When he wants to be separated from the past of his family, the inadequacy that he feels in his own life. And when he’s given the chance to start over–he takes it. And has to deal with the fact that he has to live in two worlds: the one he really lives in, and the one he wants to live on. And this duplicity cannot last long–and it doesn’t. Secrets have this nasty habit of getting out before you want them to… Before you’re ready to deal with them. And that’s the problem that Bobby faces in this book.
What we get from how he deals with the aftermath of his lie is a wonderful story about self-acceptance. And about owning up to mistakes.
And a book that’s something I would want to recommend to young readers.