The Serpent King

the Serpent KingThe Serpent King by Jeff Zentner


Rating: 5 out of 5 Magical Coffee Cups

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From Goodreads:

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. The end of high school will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is happy wherever he is thanks to his obsession with the epic book series Bloodfall and the fangirl who may be turning his harsh reality into real-life fantasy. Dill’s only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for Lydia—neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending—one that will rock his life to the core.

I saw this author at a literature conference and so many people were walking up to him telling him that they loved his book but immediately following that praise with “How dare you.”.  Each time he would just smile and say “I know, I know”.  I, of course, had to find out why everyone was loving and hating this poor author at the same time.

The book follows the lives of three teens in their last year of high school as they are all making choices as to what to do with the rest of their lives.  We start to hear a little background of each of them, what they plan to do with their lives, and we also hear about what they hope for their futures. I felt sucked into their lives, I wanted to know what they were up to and I really did want to know where their lives were going.

Toward the end, something big does happen.  I am of course not going to spoil it for you but I will admit I was tearing up.  My mom called me while I was reading this part of the book and she was worried about me because of how I sounded.  It was sort of a funny moment between my mom and me, her telling me not to read a book that makes me sad and me telling her that I’m only sad because it is such a well-written book.  Oh, so hard to explain the love of reading to others.

I recommended this book to some of my students and they came back to me with the book and simply said “why?” with their sad puppy dog eyes.  I’m not sure if they were saying “why” as in “Why did the author do that?” or “Why?” as in “Why did I recommend this book and put them through these feelings?”.

I highly recommend this book but also warn you to have some tissues nearby.

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