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Zen and the Art of Faking It

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Meet San Lee, a (sort of) innocent teenager, who moves against his will to a new town. Things get interesting when he (sort of) invents a new past for himself, which makes him incredibly popular. In fact, his whole school starts to (sort of) worship him, just because he (sort of) accidentally gave the impression that he's a reincarnated mystic. When things start to unravel, Meet San Lee, a (sort of) innocent teenager, who moves against his will to a new town. Things get interesting when he (sort of) invents a new past for himself, which makes him incredibly popular. In fact, his whole school starts to (sort of) worship him, just because he (sort of) accidentally gave the impression that he's a reincarnated mystic. When things start to unravel, San needs to find some real wisdom in a hurry. Can he patch things up with his family, save himself from bodily harm, stop being an outcast, and maybe even get the girl?


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Meet San Lee, a (sort of) innocent teenager, who moves against his will to a new town. Things get interesting when he (sort of) invents a new past for himself, which makes him incredibly popular. In fact, his whole school starts to (sort of) worship him, just because he (sort of) accidentally gave the impression that he's a reincarnated mystic. When things start to unravel, Meet San Lee, a (sort of) innocent teenager, who moves against his will to a new town. Things get interesting when he (sort of) invents a new past for himself, which makes him incredibly popular. In fact, his whole school starts to (sort of) worship him, just because he (sort of) accidentally gave the impression that he's a reincarnated mystic. When things start to unravel, San needs to find some real wisdom in a hurry. Can he patch things up with his family, save himself from bodily harm, stop being an outcast, and maybe even get the girl?

30 review for Zen and the Art of Faking It

  1. 5 out of 5

    Madeline Kerrigan

    “Blending in is impossible. So maybe it’s time to fake it” (1) Jordan Sonnenblick takes us through the all too well known middle school years. Zen and the Art of Faking It is a realistic fiction book, that guides the reader through the drama, love, hate, and friendship that middle school brings. San Lee is just an ordinary teenage boy attempting to fit into the middle school “standards”, with this being this fifth time moving in the past year. He has experimented with every role there is includi “Blending in is impossible. So maybe it’s time to fake it” (1) Jordan Sonnenblick takes us through the all too well known middle school years. Zen and the Art of Faking It is a realistic fiction book, that guides the reader through the drama, love, hate, and friendship that middle school brings. San Lee is just an ordinary teenage boy attempting to fit into the middle school “standards”, with this being this fifth time moving in the past year. He has experimented with every role there is including, the jock, the skater dude, the rich preppy kid, the nerd, and almost anything else you could think of. Throughout the whole book San is trying to figure out who he really is, but during this process he gets entangled in a huge lie. San Lee is taking an ancient history class in his new school. Since he had moved to so many new schools, San had already learned about Buddhism, which is what he would be studying. San winds up answering all of these question about Buddha and zen. Everyone in the class assumes he's this almighty Zen Master. San goes along with the idea, not knowing that it would end up in such a disarray. One thing that made the book more intriguing was the different aspects of drama going on between characters, therefore making the plot more compelling. One of the reasons I like Jordan Sonnenblick is, the characters that he develops are authentic, and you can connect on a deeper level with them. San also has some pretty heavy family problems that you feel his struggle with. Zen and the Art of Faking It has a great lesson behind it: stay true to who you are and sincere friends will love you for that. Overall I rate this book a ⅘ because it was witty, drama filled, and relatable to my life. I guarantee that any middle schooler who reads this book will appreciate and enjoy this fun loving novel . Bibliography: Sonnenblick, Jordan. Zen and the Art of Faking It. New York: Scholastic, 2007. Print.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Reader

    "People are always telling kids to be themselves, but either they didn't mean it or they didn't tell you how to go about doing it when everyone was trying to push and pull you into line." 8th grader San Lee is once again the new kid in town. He's moved from school to school so many times he doesn't even know who he is anymore. There are so many cliques and labels to choose from at school, he loses track. It doesn't take him long to fall in love with a gorgeous, guitar-playing classmate. What wil "People are always telling kids to be themselves, but either they didn't mean it or they didn't tell you how to go about doing it when everyone was trying to push and pull you into line." 8th grader San Lee is once again the new kid in town. He's moved from school to school so many times he doesn't even know who he is anymore. There are so many cliques and labels to choose from at school, he loses track. It doesn't take him long to fall in love with a gorgeous, guitar-playing classmate. What will San do to win the girl's affection and to establish himself as one of the school's most mysterious and, therefore, most popular kids in the school? Well, for starters, he pretends to be a Zen master who thrives on Indian-style meditation, a multiple of bizarre Zen techniques and spiritual ramblings. With his Zen master image, he quickly wins first the curiosity and then the love of the girl of his dreams and the admiration/jealousy of his classmates. But how long can he keep his Zen lies going before the non-Zen truth is revealed? And just how much will his lies cost him? In the end, here is one question readers might ask: "Is it easier to act like someone we're not or to just to be who we really are?" As many students know, the answer isn't as obvious as it may seem. Personally, I thought "Zen and the Art of Faking It" was a good story but "Drums Girls and Dangerous Pie" was a GREAT STORY! In fact, it is exactly because Drums Girls and Dangerous Pie was SO good that I wasn't as impressed as I read through Zen and the Art of Faking It. Still, author Jordan Sonnenblick is a promising writer for today's student readers: quick-witted, fast-paced and full of laughs. While he can come across as a bit corny at times, he does seem to understand many of the challenges middle school students face in their daily lives. He is also able to take many of those not-so-fun problems (dealing with school work, teachers, parents, divorce, crushes, etc.) and turn them into fun-to-read stories.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Doms Candels

    i'm not too occupied at work these days and finally got around to finishing this book! YAY! 3.5 stars! i definitely liked the first sonnenblick book i've read, Notes from the Midnight Driver, but this one isn't so bad too. what i like: - narration—it was funny, quite like aforementioned first book i read - quotable quotes, i'm a sucker for these and i expected no less from a zen book lol - san lee (well, somewhat)! "I'm San Lee. If cold, rain, poverty, and tragedy couldn't break my concentration, neit i'm not too occupied at work these days and finally got around to finishing this book! YAY! 3.5 stars! i definitely liked the first sonnenblick book i've read, Notes from the Midnight Driver, but this one isn't so bad too. what i like: - narration—it was funny, quite like aforementioned first book i read - quotable quotes, i'm a sucker for these and i expected no less from a zen book lol - san lee (well, somewhat)! "I'm San Lee. If cold, rain, poverty, and tragedy couldn't break my concentration, neither could a dead plant sandwich." ^what i love about san lee. what i don't like: - i found it one-sided, considering it only has san lee's pov - reminds me if eleanor and park's ending, which i both hate and love at the same time!!! while it's an easy and short read, the major theme (but,like, apart from san lee's deception) was about family probs. i dunno much about broken (sorry if i'm using the term loosely here) families and its {realistic} portrayals in media, but this book kind of like slightly skimmed that part—there was, i think, two pages worth of the backstory—and i do not mean to be negative at all. it didn't come out as a sob story, but it made me realise that there is an underlying sadness in sonnenblick's witty books UGHHH (fa·çade)! anyways, here are the quotables i like: "You have to do what's right because it's right, not because somebody's going to give you a gold star at the end." "...you have to carry what you've done on your shoulders until it's ready to be laid down." "And how am I supposed to know when that is?" "When it doesn't hurt anymore to look in the mirror, that's when you'll know." "Now I had to do research just to impress a girl. Attachment to desire really is the origin of all suffering."

  4. 5 out of 5

    Joyce Yattoni

    I listened to this through Overdrive and I have to say the voice actor did a great job on the protagonist San Lee. As a mother I felt sorry for this high school freshman. Think about it. He has had to move almost every year of his life which means changing schools because his dad has to stay one step ahead of the law. When he finally lands at his current school (because his dad is serving time in prison for fraud) he is exhausted. While he is "learning the lay of the land" he tries to "reinvent" I listened to this through Overdrive and I have to say the voice actor did a great job on the protagonist San Lee. As a mother I felt sorry for this high school freshman. Think about it. He has had to move almost every year of his life which means changing schools because his dad has to stay one step ahead of the law. When he finally lands at his current school (because his dad is serving time in prison for fraud) he is exhausted. While he is "learning the lay of the land" he tries to "reinvent" himself. Prior to coming to his current school he described himself as a trouble maker. He starts to get interested in the study of Buddhism because of a cool 😎 social studies teacher and starts to research it. He then portrays himself to be s "zen master" of sorts. But really, what he is trying to do is lead a "normal life". He is kind to others, goes out of his way to help people less fortunate, works hard in school and turns the other cheek when bullies try to torment him. Although he claims to have been faking it, the reader comes to realize this is truly who San Lee is. Unfortunately, he never gets around to telling his girlfriend about his "stunt". Therein lies the problem. We all make troubling choices at times. This story is great for those who like the quick wit and dry sense of humor of the author's characters as well as a desire to learn how sometimes we can get in over our heads and how to deal with it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Philip

    *I just had a kid ask me today if I'd read this book... it's in our class collection... I couldn't remember. To me, that's a bad sign for a book that I read less than a year ago... Maybe I should bump my review down to 2 stars after all...* *edit Sept. 7, 2011* -Original Review-Dec. 1, 2010- You know how sometimes books try to trick kids into thinking they're fun books, but they're really these boring books with teachery morals that kids see right through? Well, I felt that way for the first half o *I just had a kid ask me today if I'd read this book... it's in our class collection... I couldn't remember. To me, that's a bad sign for a book that I read less than a year ago... Maybe I should bump my review down to 2 stars after all...* *edit Sept. 7, 2011* -Original Review-Dec. 1, 2010- You know how sometimes books try to trick kids into thinking they're fun books, but they're really these boring books with teachery morals that kids see right through? Well, I felt that way for the first half of the book. If it hadn't turned around it would be a one-starred (maybe 2) book. San, our unlikely and flawed hero lets us know at the beginning that school is lame, teachers are as well, cafeteria food is gross, and plenty of other school clichés that everyone knows will be proved wrong by the end of the book. Maybe Sonnenblick thought Junior Highers won't have experienced that in writing yet. And, maybe some of them haven't. I just found myself getting annoyed at it. I mean, maybe school is lame, maybe teachers are too... but if you're going to write about lame teachers, you have to take a novel approach. San, was also quite the Mary-Sue. That said, I could get into the second half of the book. It seemed more real to me. (Maybe this was intentional since the book's theme and moral was that lying is bad... and facing the truth can hurt as well) So, will I push this one on my students? I don't think so. Maybe I will, but with the caveat emptor reader.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Madelyn Rose

    This book was fine, but it just seemed to be forcing people into reading it with "basketball concepts", but it is really trying to teach lessons. I for one do not like having lessons shoved down my throat while reading. The lesson was basically not to lie. That was just one thing I didn't LOVE about this book. The book basically brings up the point that junior high isn't too pleasant. But, the book seemed too immature for that concept and seemed to lack the structure to make it a perfect book. If This book was fine, but it just seemed to be forcing people into reading it with "basketball concepts", but it is really trying to teach lessons. I for one do not like having lessons shoved down my throat while reading. The lesson was basically not to lie. That was just one thing I didn't LOVE about this book. The book basically brings up the point that junior high isn't too pleasant. But, the book seemed too immature for that concept and seemed to lack the structure to make it a perfect book. If the overall writing of the book would have changed, maybe I could have bumped the rating up to 3 or 4 stars. Even though the writing wasn't very good, the second half of the book was okay because it was relatable when San was learning a lesson, although I don't love being taught lessons. What I am trying to get to is that the book wasn't well written and there was still room for improvement, but once I got to the second part, it was a bit more enjoyable. I would recommend this book to a liar because it really enforces truthfulness. I would also recommend reading this if you are in middle school because it takes place in a middle school setting. Happy Reading! -Madelyn

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dracolibris

    Sonnenblick did it again- stole my heart with his wonderful characters and carried me away to a different school where I just wanted to reach out and give San Lee a big hug. San Lee is the protaganist of this book, and is wonderfully witty, flawed and sweet, all at the same time. Starting at a new school after his family is torn apart by his father's lies, San doesn't intend to lie to his new classmates. It just sort of happens that they think he is a hot shot mystical and wise Zen Master. And b Sonnenblick did it again- stole my heart with his wonderful characters and carried me away to a different school where I just wanted to reach out and give San Lee a big hug. San Lee is the protaganist of this book, and is wonderfully witty, flawed and sweet, all at the same time. Starting at a new school after his family is torn apart by his father's lies, San doesn't intend to lie to his new classmates. It just sort of happens that they think he is a hot shot mystical and wise Zen Master. And before he knows it or has a chance to fully consider the consequences, he falls for the prettiest girl in school (or so he feels) and just lets the story build momentum. Funny, poignant, thought-provoking and entertaining, I would have no reservations about recommending this book to boys and girls alike and anyone who has had a hard time fitting in and accepting themselves.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Agata Wilusz

    While I am not one for dishonesty, can you imagine how much San learned while developing his new identity?! I really do feel for this character. Being the new kid is hard enough, but having to be the new kid over and over and over must be completely exhausting. I really enjoyed San, he's a good kid and is determined to make things work. As always, Sonnenblick inserts humor in it the right places to make for an even more enjoyable read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Emmé

    It was a very interesting book and I totally recommend it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sophie

    Zen and the Art of Faking It is an incredible book written by Jordan Sonnenblick. It is full of humor, sarcasm, in-depth emotions, and a good story line. It is one of those books that make you fall in love with some characters, and hate others. Jordan Sonnenblick has the reader on the edge of their seat, screaming at a character to do or say something, when the character does the opposite. In this great book, Jordan Sonnenblick has written about an eighth grade boy, San, whose only wish is to f Zen and the Art of Faking It is an incredible book written by Jordan Sonnenblick. It is full of humor, sarcasm, in-depth emotions, and a good story line. It is one of those books that make you fall in love with some characters, and hate others. Jordan Sonnenblick has the reader on the edge of their seat, screaming at a character to do or say something, when the character does the opposite. In this great book, Jordan Sonnenblick has written about an eighth grade boy, San, whose only wish is to fit in and make his life “normal”. Throughout the past years, he has been through hard times. He had to deal with moving schools every year. On top of that, he had to make sense of his dad who has lied and is imprisoned. Because of his circumstances and moving schools, San is always figuring out a new person to become. During this book, one mere detail makes the entire school believe that, San is some type of “Zen Master”. In fact, being a “Zen Master” just so happens to completely impress Woody, the girl of San’s dreams. After San decides that a Zen Master would be a perfect profile at his new school, lies start to snowball out of control. San will do anything, including flat-out lie, to impress and be closer to Woody, causing the main conflicts within the book. The main theme of Zen and the Art of Faking It is to be yourself. For example, in the story, San is so focused on who he is going to be at his new school, that he forgets to just be himself. He does not realize that people will like him for who he is. In fact, if San would not have been trying to be someone else, none of the problems in the book would have occurred. He would not have had to lie to everyone about his identity, and it would have saved him apologies to many people. Zen and the Art of Faking It inspires the reader to be true to themselves, and teaches the reader that people will like them for who they are. I think that one of the reasons that makes this story so good is that it has a positive message. Therefore, the theme of Zen and the Art of Faking It is to be yourself. Jordan Sonnenblick, makes the reader feel as if they are in the setting of book, experiencing the roller coaster ride of a present day middle school student’s life. The setting is present day at San’s school, his home, the library, and the soup kitchen. During the book, the author makes it seem as if the reader is in San’s head, experiencing the story first hand. The author is able to make it seem this way due to use of descriptive words and intense emotions. For example, in the book, San has a rock at the school that he meditates on every day to make him more believable to other characters. In the story, the author illustrates a “big, flat rock under a leafless, snowy tree directly across the school’s front walkway.” Personally, I think that these details helped me to better understand the concept of the book. Ultimately, Sonnenblick uses descriptive words that help illustrate the setting. The main characters in this story include San, Emily (aka Woody), Peter, and San’s parents. San is an eighth grade boy, who just wants to have a “normal” family life and to stand out at school in a positive way. Woody is a girl in San’s class who has totally impressed San with her neat personality and guitar skills. Above all, one of the most exceptional ways that San and Woody became close is after San finds out that Woody’s mom left her a few years ago. After that, San grew closer to Woody because he thought that they had something in common, despite the fact that San kept his dad in jail a secret. San had already learned about Zen Buddhism in his school year before. When San saw that Woody was impressed with his knowledge, San decided to play the role of a Zen Master. This action won over Woody, but not Peter. Peter is Woody’s mean stepbrother, who says he is “very protective” of her. As a result of being “protective”, Woody and San are always trying to earn a moment alone without Peter stalking over them. When Peter becomes suspicious of San after his many lies, he tries to separate the two of them. Peter is one of San’s “arch enemies”. Their volatile relationship leads to the turning point in the book. Besides lying to his friends, San has lied to both of his parents. San’s parents have been separated temporarily. His dad is stuck in prison and only gets one phone call a week. For a school project on Zen Buddhism, San and Woody washed dishes at the soup kitchen throughout the story. Even though San was having a positive impact on society by performing this action, San purposely scheduled it on Wednesday to miss his dad’s phone calls. On the days that San was not at the soup kitchen, to avoid the phone calls, he was at the library researching Zen to better fulfill his persona. San’s mother is put in the worst situation in the book. She has already had to deal with her husband's lies and his incarceration. Now she has to deal with San’s lies and secrecy. In all, I believe that an exceeding amount of thought went into the characters in the book. In the story, Zen and the Art of Faking It has particularly believable characters. In this story, the author connects especially to students like San by putting in scenes, problems, and details that many other students are experiencing first hand. I know many students remind me of San, and I was better able to understand the story because of it. Like many students in today’s world, San moves to a new school and tries to fit in by becoming a new person. Another way that this book can be related to some student’s lives is the experience of having a first crush. Thirdly, San is like other students in the sense that some students may only have one parent at home. In the book, San’s father has been imprisoned due to his illegal actions. Readers may be able to relate to Woody, or Peter, too. Many people and students in a relationship have been lied to, and do not find out until it is too late. Other people can relate to Peter, as they are protective of their loved ones. Many people do not want their friends and family hanging out with people that may end up hurting them. Thus, Sonnenblick has not only written incredible traits for his characters, but he has made them believable. Zen and the Art of Faking It is a typical Jordan Sonnenblick book full of sarcasm, humor, and in-depth emotions. If you have read Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie or any other Sonnenblick books, Zen and the Art of Faking It would be an enjoyable book to read. Zen and the Art of Faking It has a similar theme and a similar setting to Sonnenblick’s other books, but it has many differences as well. For example, the main theme of the book is slightly different. In some of his other books, the theme is tragedy and coping, versus fitting in and relationships. In addition to the theme, the characters in his other books are all similar to the characters in this book. San has some issues at home, similar to characters from his other books in the sense that they all try to solve their problems but in different ways. San’s solutions to his problems is lying. Another similarity to his other books is that the main characters have a huge crush on someone. San has a huge crush on Woody. The difference in the main characters of each book is that they are all trying to achieve a different goal. San is trying to fit in. In other books, this goal is different. In all, Zen and the Art of Faking It is a great story similar to other Jordan Sonnenblick novels. I love the writing style of Jordan Sonnenblick. He writes sarcastically in the voice of a middle school student, which appeals to all kids my age. I think that his writing style is appropriate for the book he has written. I thought that tying in humor was a way to lighten up a story full of emotions. In addition to enjoying his sarcastic teenage voice, I enjoyed the added scenes of irony and hypocrisy. For instance, San Lee always reminds himself to not act like his unsuccessful father. But, in reality, he has done just that. He has lied to the people who care about him most, for his own good, just like his father. I think that this happening is very ironic, and I like how the author ties it into the story. The writing style the author uses adds to the plot and storyline of the book. After analyzing all of the bits and pieces, I believe that Zen and the Art of Faking It is a book worth reading. The style of writing the author uses really appeals to me, along with the characters and the message. I like all Jordan Sonnenblick books. Although, this book was not my favorite compared to some of his other books. His other books such as Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie are incredibly touching with more hidden meanings.Others may feel differently despite my opinion. Overall, I enjoyed this book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Hannah C.

    Hannah Chamberlain Mrs. Romaniuk Reading/L.A: Book Review #9 17 February 2011 San Lee: Zen Buddhist or Liar? Have you ever heard of an animal called a chameleon? They are reptiles that have the strange ability to change their appearance in a matter of seconds in order to blend in to or stand out from their surroundings. In the book Zen and the Art of Faking It, San and his mom move to Harrisonville, Pennsylvania in present times, where this realistic fiction novel by Jordan Sonnenblick takes place. Hannah Chamberlain Mrs. Romaniuk Reading/L.A: Book Review #9 17 February 2011 San Lee: Zen Buddhist or Liar? Have you ever heard of an animal called a chameleon? They are reptiles that have the strange ability to change their appearance in a matter of seconds in order to blend in to or stand out from their surroundings. In the book Zen and the Art of Faking It, San and his mom move to Harrisonville, Pennsylvania in present times, where this realistic fiction novel by Jordan Sonnenblick takes place. At his new school, San uses information about Buddhism that he remembers from his old history class to convince everyone that he is a reincarnated Zen master. He also practices Zen beliefs that he learned about from research in the library to look more credible and to get attention. Throughout the book, San struggles to keep his lies undetected by his new friend Emily, his mother, and his teachers. On top of this difficult task, San must also worry about things like schoolwork and tough family situations. If the themes of this book were expressed symbolically through a drawing, the drawing would portray a chameleon meditating on a rock next to San and Emily’s Buddhism project because the theme that is shown from San and Emily’s work is indicated by their Buddhism project, San’s Zen practice is signified by the rock, and San is symbolized by a chameleon. If the themes of Zen and the Art of Faking It were expressed symbolically through a drawing of a chameleon meditating on a rock next to San and Emily’s Buddhism project, the drawing would include the Buddhism project because it indicates the theme that is shown from San and Emily’s work. The two eighth graders meet and become friends around the beginning of the book and are assigned together as partners for a history project. They decide that they should ‘play to San’s strengths’ by doing their project on Zen Buddhism. San pretends to know a lot about Zen and he emphasizes the importance of showing compassion towards people through service. As part of their Zen project, San and Emily do service by washing dishes at a soup kitchen every Wednesday. They also get the basketball team to hand out food there by helping them with their free throws. San and Emily working together on their project and supplying help not only shows that they learned a lot about Zen, but it also shows one of the themes of Zen and the Art of Faking It. This theme is that service greatly affects the lives of the people that need it most in a positive way, even if the service is provided by someone who is not always entirely honest. At one point, San actually realizes this and says, “Right action is right action” (95). This means that even though he knows he is being deceptive, he feels satisfied that he is showing compassion to people. In other words, charity is charity, no matter what the circumstances are. In this book, this theme shines most brightly during the times that San and Emily are working on their project. Thus, if the theme were to be drawn using a symbol, the symbol would be the Zen Buddhism project. If the themes of Zen and the Art of Faking It were symbolized through a drawing of a chameleon meditating on a rock next to San and Emily’s Buddhism project, the rock would be incorporated because it signifies San’s Zen practices. As San learns enough about Zen to look authentic, he discovers a Zen tradition. It is meditation. He tries it for the first time one morning on a big flat rock across from the school. He sits in the ‘zazen’ position and tries to focus. He thinks, “I tried to breathe deeply and evenly until I forgot about breathing. Do you know how hard that is? I tried counting breaths, then I tried NOT counting breaths. But when you’re purposely NOT counting, your brain wants to count” (45). This shows how San is recognizing the difficulty of not thinking. According to San’s Zen books that he found at the library, meditation is “sitting and emptying the mind of all conscious thought” (43). Basically, this means that meditation is sitting and not thinking. Apparently, in order to achieve this, one must think about not thinking, but without thinking. San makes a routine of coming to his rock by the school every morning to meditate. After a while, he gets used to meditating and he thinks, “By this point, sitting zazen had become strangely comfortable for me, and the little indent in my rock where the bottom of my back rested felt like my personal easy chair” (145). Throughout San’s school year, he participates in several different Zen traditions. Not only does he meditate, but he also creates a Zen garden, becomes a vegetarian, and keeps ‘washing his bowl’. The most significant tradition that he maintained, however, was meditating. Therefore, if a drawing of a chameleon meditating on a rock next to San and Emily’s Buddhism project was used to symbolize the themes of this book, San’s Zen meditation rock would be incorporated. If the themes of Zen and the Art of Faking It were symbolized by a drawing of a chameleon meditating on a rock next to San and Emily’s Buddhism project, the chameleon would symbolize San. Throughout San’s life, he has moved around the country quite a bit. He recognizes that with each new environment, he acts like a different San. He thinks, “I guess going to the Baptist Church was part of that phase too. In Connecticut, we were Methodists, and I think when I was really little in California we might have been Unitarians for a while” (8). This quote demonstrates how differently San lived in each of his homes. San goes on to say, “I was still trying out who to be in Pennsylvania: a skater, like I’d been in Cali? A Bible-thumper, like I’d been in Alabama? A rich preppy kid, like I’d been in Houston? A macho pretend-jock, like I’d been in Germany?” (10). This quote clearly states that San had a different personality everywhere he lived and had trouble deciding what to be like. It seemed like he was sporting a different mask every time he moved. A chameleon can be used to symbolize the way San changes. Whenever the color of a chameleon’s surroundings changes, it changes color as well. Chameleons have the ability to change their appearance in a matter of seconds. They may either change their color to camouflage into that of their surroundings, or they might change their color to stand out. In some of the places that San lived in before Harrisonville, he may have chosen to blend in to the crowd. However, in this story, San acts like a reincarnated Zen master, which is definitely not part of the custom here. It is as if San, like a chameleon, has changes his colors to be more prominent in his new environment. Thus, San can be symbolized by a chameleon in a drawing of the themes of Zen and the Art of Faking It. If the themes of this book were expressed symbolically through a drawing, the drawing would portray a chameleon meditating on a rock next to San and Emily’s Buddhism project because the theme that is shown from San and Emily’s work is indicated by their Buddhism project, San’s Zen practice is signified by the rock, and San is symbolized by a chameleon. I rate Zen and the Art of Faking It four out of five stars because even though the ending seemed a bit open-ended and abrupt, the book has a very enjoyable plot, it was easy to connect to, and the sarcasm was funny. Of all the themes and ideas in this book, the one that stands out to me the most is how San becomes a new person every time he moves. Personally, I think that this is a terrible way for a kid/teenager to grow up. Traveling and changing like that makes it difficult to find out who you are and your individual importance in the world. It is not uplifting and it doesn’t help with self-esteem. Fortunately, I haven’t moved as many times as San has, but I have moved several times over the years and let me tell you: moving is stressful. It’s odd because when I think of moving, I think of rooms packed with boxes and piles of household items congesting the hallways. However, I also think of feeling lonely, with so many friends and memories left behind. Crowded, and yet empty. I am sure that San has felt similarly. While doing this book review and reading the book, I learned that usually when people embellish their personalities in a dishonest way to seem more interesting, they don’t realize that they would actually be just as interesting if they told the truth. This is because even though San put on this whole “Zen Buddhist Show” to get more attention, I would have been interested in hearing his real story about being adopted from China.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Shaun

    I read this as I am currently faking it at the art of being a writer. I'm working on a piece geared towards middle schoolers. I had hoped this book would give me an idea of what "the middle school voice" is supposed to sound like in books and I think it did that. It's a charming, funny, easy to follow story that flows nicely. I listened to the audiobook version. This is precisely the kind of book I would have enjoyed reading in late elementary or in middle school. Frankly I kind of enjoyed it no I read this as I am currently faking it at the art of being a writer. I'm working on a piece geared towards middle schoolers. I had hoped this book would give me an idea of what "the middle school voice" is supposed to sound like in books and I think it did that. It's a charming, funny, easy to follow story that flows nicely. I listened to the audiobook version. This is precisely the kind of book I would have enjoyed reading in late elementary or in middle school. Frankly I kind of enjoyed it now.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Carolina Larumbe

    “Zen and the Art of Faking it” by Jordan Sonnenblick is a comedic, realistic fiction story about a new kid, San Lee, trying to find his role in his new school. In doing so, he (unintentionally) manages to fool his classmates into thinking he’s the Buddha reincarnate, and has to deal with the troubles that come. Sonnenblick must’ve enjoyed himself writing from the perspective of a kid as witty and sarcastic as San Lee. That doesnt hinder his writing though, as the vocabulary used is easy enough to “Zen and the Art of Faking it” by Jordan Sonnenblick is a comedic, realistic fiction story about a new kid, San Lee, trying to find his role in his new school. In doing so, he (unintentionally) manages to fool his classmates into thinking he’s the Buddha reincarnate, and has to deal with the troubles that come. Sonnenblick must’ve enjoyed himself writing from the perspective of a kid as witty and sarcastic as San Lee. That doesn´t hinder his writing though, as the vocabulary used is easy enough to understand for the average middle schooler. His writing style is descriptive, but not so much that it was out of place for comical book like this one. Sonnenblick managed to keep me engaged throughout the story with the several twists and turns it takes. If you enjoy reading humorous realistic fiction with middle school age protagonists, then I strongly suggest you read this novel.

  14. 5 out of 5

    711Bethany

    A nerve-racking, relatable book that everyone should read

  15. 4 out of 5

    Evan W

    My only complaint for this book is that the ending was waaay too rushed. The main climax/problem (described on the back) only comes in the last sixth of the novel. Then, the entire problem gets resolved in just two pages. Other than that, this was a fun read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth (Elzburg)

    This was a fantastic middle grade book! It didn't even necessarily feel like a middle grade book besides the main cast being middle schoolers. It never felt like the author was condescending or looking down on his readers by making the language super simple, which is something that often irks me with middle grade. That said, I listened to the audiobook, so it is possible that any less sophisticated language went unnoticed when spoken. Zen and the Art of Faking It is about an eighth grade boy name This was a fantastic middle grade book! It didn't even necessarily feel like a middle grade book besides the main cast being middle schoolers. It never felt like the author was condescending or looking down on his readers by making the language super simple, which is something that often irks me with middle grade. That said, I listened to the audiobook, so it is possible that any less sophisticated language went unnoticed when spoken. Zen and the Art of Faking It is about an eighth grade boy named San Lee, and his decision to reinvent himself as a Buddhist Zen Master at his new school. Lots of Buddhist knowledge and enlightenment is to be found here (but don't worry, it's not about trying to convert anyone or anything). Being able to experience both the antics that ensue and learning about San's home life and what motivated him to make such a decision were interesting and engaging. The tone of the book was kept light throughout even during conflict, enforced by San's lighthearted and humorous personality. All of the characters felt multidimensional, even if at first they seem like they'll just be a cliché. I particularly enjoyed Peter's character, someone who you would initially characterise as the 2-dimensional "bully" but then realise he's human just like everyone else. I think it can be up for interpretation whether or not he was an actual bully, but my vote goes towards no. (view spoiler)[He always had good intentions (to protect his sister) but like anyone else he also had his own frustration and anger (especially when he saw the futility of his efforts) and dealt with them in the way he knew how. (hide spoiler)] I quite like how his character was handled. This book had the "character does something bad/gets caught up in their lies and is now all alone and friendless" cliché, unfortunately. I very much noticed it but it didn't actually bother me too much because it was at the end and didn't last too long. Also at this point I'm starting to think it's an unavoidable staple in the contemporary genre. It did make the ending and resolution feel too rushed though, which was unfortunate because it would have otherwise been wrapped up quite nicely. (view spoiler)[It made the resolution between his and Emily's/Woody's relationship seem rushed. She was so upset and they didn't talk for who knows how long and then all of a sudden she's dtf. I get that maybe enough time had passed for her to be able to get over it, but it still should have been awkward after all that time avoiding and not talking. (hide spoiler)] There was also the insta-love cliché which I just went along with, because there comes a point where you've seen a cliché so many times that you don't even get mad anymore, you just accept that that's the way things are going to be and you move on. San's crush was a quite likable character though, so it really wasn't hard getting behind it. The audiobook was good. Nothing super special but definitely not bad. The only thing is that it was sometimes confusing to tell if what San was saying was internal monologue or external dialogue because the narrator didn't differentiate his voice between the two. Overall this was a great middle grade book that was super enjoyable. It was not without its flaws but I'm definitely happy to have read it. Please consider giving this review a "Like" if you've made it this far, it helps me out a lot! And follow me if you want more!

  17. 4 out of 5

    713Shane

    My monthly published review book is Zen and the Art of Faking it by Jordan Sonnenblick. I really liked this book because it was very humorous which is something everyone likes. Also this book is very relatable. I’m sure everyone can relate to telling a lie that came back to haunt you. The main character's name is San who is adopted. His family, that consists of him and his parents, has had to move a lot because of the dads “business.” San’s dad is spending his time in jail at the time the setting My monthly published review book is Zen and the Art of Faking it by Jordan Sonnenblick. I really liked this book because it was very humorous which is something everyone likes. Also this book is very relatable. I’m sure everyone can relate to telling a lie that came back to haunt you. The main character's name is San who is adopted. His family, that consists of him and his parents, has had to move a lot because of the dads “business.” San’s dad is spending his time in jail at the time the setting of the book takes place. San’s dad is in jail because he lied as a businessman. Since San is living with only his mother they are suffering from poverty. San lives in Pennsylvania where they plan to stay. When he goes to his school for the first time he meets a girl named “Woody.” The reason his dad is in jail is one that only San knows is true. His dad lies to people to get his way. San experienced this first hand and is now constantly trying to avoid his phone calls that his dad only has limited of. San’s mom doesn't realize that her husband cheated his way into things so she is still very sad. She now has to work double shifts at her job in the hospital to compensate for the missing person. San blames his dad for their struggles. In the book while he is in school he lies and tells people that he is a strict “Buddhist zen master” which entangles him in some problems with his new friends and enemies. I would give Zen and the Art of Faking it by Jordan Sonnenblick 5 stars. I would give it this rating because I really really like the funny tone. This book was written in the first person perspective which gives it a different tone. Also I think that everyone can relate to this book and that everyone will have fun reading it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Abby Johnson

    Eighth grader San Lee just moved to Pennsylvania and started a new school. He's moved around a lot, from Texas to California to Alabama... and in each place he's assumed a new identity, heeding to his father's advice to "do as the Romans do". Now, with his dad (somewhat mysteriously) out of the picture, San has to decide how he's going to present himself at school. When he finds out that his social studies class is studying Eastern religions, which he studied the year before at his Texas school, Eighth grader San Lee just moved to Pennsylvania and started a new school. He's moved around a lot, from Texas to California to Alabama... and in each place he's assumed a new identity, heeding to his father's advice to "do as the Romans do". Now, with his dad (somewhat mysteriously) out of the picture, San has to decide how he's going to present himself at school. When he finds out that his social studies class is studying Eastern religions, which he studied the year before at his Texas school, San's got his new identity: Zen master. It fits perfectly with his appearance (he and his mom don't have much money, so he's forced to wear sandals in the winter and has no coat). And the object of his crush, a Beatles-loving guitar-playing wild-haired girl named Woody, seems to dig it. So San goes to the library and studies up... But before he knows it, things have gotten way out of control. Will San be able to come clean and figure out his own identity? Or will he continue to the a master of Zen and the Art of Faking It? Jordan Sonnenblick is one of my newly-discovered favorite authors. While his newest novel is not as funny or heart-breaking as his previous novels have been, he still writes solid characters and situations that make you think. San has a real issue with identity in this book. He's always been trying to please other people (namely his father), so he has no idea who he really is. As San gets to know his crush Woody, he finds out that she has a lot of the same issues. I think this book will really speak to middle-schoolers, many of whom are going through a period of figuring out who they are and who they want to be.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Trystan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. In Zen and the Art of Faking It by Jordan Sonnenblick, this realistic fiction story will take you through a whirlwind of emotions. This book combines the lie that San(protagonist) has been telling the whole school year with the ways he tries to hide his real self. San, whose family is broken apart, tries to fit in with his classmates at school by having a fake identity to not show his "true colors." The main conflict of this book is definitely when San and his "lady love" Woody were getting "clo In Zen and the Art of Faking It by Jordan Sonnenblick, this realistic fiction story will take you through a whirlwind of emotions. This book combines the lie that San(protagonist) has been telling the whole school year with the ways he tries to hide his real self. San, whose family is broken apart, tries to fit in with his classmates at school by having a fake identity to not show his "true colors." The main conflict of this book is definitely when San and his "lady love" Woody were getting "close" in the soup kitchen, San's mother barges in with San's winter clothes, Woody sees the truth about who San really is. This book takes place in Harrisonville, Pennsylvania, in the present. The theme of this book is " don't try to be someone you're not." San tries to not be himself and it defectively backfires on him. To support this, San convinces everyone that he was a "zen master" but when the entire school finds out, they shun him for the rest of the year. The story was totally believable, because I could see people in my school doing this.This book was published in 2007. I would rate this book about 4 stars, but I wouldn't recommend this book to younger readers because of the profanities used. But somebody older than about 16, because this book was very simple to read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    7706lola

    San Lee, an eighth grader with a father in jail and a lonesome, overprotective mother, has to move around a lot due to his father's behavior. In the story, he moves to a small, almost deserted town in "nowherseville", Pennsilvania. With all of the family's moving, San Lee feels he doesn't really have an original character. so every time they move, he recreates himself. This time, he decides to be a fake Zen master. This begins to go well for him- he already knows a bit of Zen theories, and to bo San Lee, an eighth grader with a father in jail and a lonesome, overprotective mother, has to move around a lot due to his father's behavior. In the story, he moves to a small, almost deserted town in "nowherseville", Pennsilvania. With all of the family's moving, San Lee feels he doesn't really have an original character. so every time they move, he recreates himself. This time, he decides to be a fake Zen master. This begins to go well for him- he already knows a bit of Zen theories, and to boot it's attracting girls to him. One girl, in peticular, Woody, becomes close friends with San. Together, they have to build a Zen garden for their Social Studies project. Of course, Woody thinks they have it all down: San's a Zen master, right? But to keep his image going, San goes to the library almost every day, researching everything he can about the art of Zen. This book took an unusual spin on the typical "boy moves, wants to be popular, meets a girl" book. The Zen added some originality, but otherwise the book was a bit boring. I would recommend this book to people who like realistic fiction stories, who are in for a short but interesting book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Taylor

    In the exciting romanic/comedy book Zen and the Art of Faking It by Joran Sonnenblick, San moves to a new school, which means he gets a new identity. his father, who is in prison, always taught him to fit in, never stand out, but, he does. In all of the schools he's been in, he learns a lot about the same kinds of stuff. So, he takes his knowledge of Buddism and puts it into action. He becomes the "Budda Boy" and learns so much more about it so he can really pull it off. He meets a new friend, In the exciting romanic/comedy book Zen and the Art of Faking It by Joran Sonnenblick, San moves to a new school, which means he gets a new identity. his father, who is in prison, always taught him to fit in, never stand out, but, he does. In all of the schools he's been in, he learns a lot about the same kinds of stuff. So, he takes his knowledge of Buddism and puts it into action. He becomes the "Budda Boy" and learns so much more about it so he can really pull it off. He meets a new friend, Woody, who he hangs out a lot with. They do a project together in Social Studies, and it becomes way more of a success than they thought it would be. They do many things to help the homless. On one day San's adopted mother showed up at the soup kitchen when him and Woddy were there, and the whole truth spilled. But, what happened? Did it all work out? Did everybody hate him from then on? Check it out sometime to find out.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    When San Lee moves to a new school he sort of gives everybody the impression that he is a Zen Master after answering one too many questions. Before he knows it, people are looking at him in a whole new light and San has to study up on Zen to keep his fake image, all the while juggling his "poverty" home life and trying to get the attention of the girl he likes, all in a very zen sort of way. Will San Lee be able to pull everything off? Sort of.... I absolutely love Jordan Sonnenblick. He has defi When San Lee moves to a new school he sort of gives everybody the impression that he is a Zen Master after answering one too many questions. Before he knows it, people are looking at him in a whole new light and San has to study up on Zen to keep his fake image, all the while juggling his "poverty" home life and trying to get the attention of the girl he likes, all in a very zen sort of way. Will San Lee be able to pull everything off? Sort of.... I absolutely love Jordan Sonnenblick. He has definitely got to be one of my favorite authors. Every page is hilarious, I can't stop laughing. His sarcastic comments and character narrations are totally funny. I really liked this book, it kept me entertained and made me smile, this book is one I'd recommend to all my friends. *Taken from my book reviews blog: http://reviewsatmse.blogspot.com/2008...

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sangwon Yoon

    This is a story of a new guy in the school. After answering way too many questions about religion on his first day, San accidentally gets the "Zen Master" label. But instead of revealing that he already learned about ancient religions in his previous school, San decides to go with the flow, never knowing that his cover will eventually get blown... This book has the greatest creativity and plot twists I've ever seen. It's hard to find a book that has many pages and yet seems so short. That's exact This is a story of a new guy in the school. After answering way too many questions about religion on his first day, San accidentally gets the "Zen Master" label. But instead of revealing that he already learned about ancient religions in his previous school, San decides to go with the flow, never knowing that his cover will eventually get blown... This book has the greatest creativity and plot twists I've ever seen. It's hard to find a book that has many pages and yet seems so short. That's exactly what this book is like. A spectacular blend of comedy, romance and drama, the story flows from the beginning to end, with no awkward breaks that will make you drop the book to read again weeks later. I think the book is the best book I've seen in the teen genre; I would suggest this book more than any fantasy or sci-fi series I've seen. It's more worth the time.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Emma Grigsby

    This really great story of San Lee who of course fakes himself as being A Zen Buddhist. He meets a girl named Emily or "Woody" who has a reason to her name with her mom. Sin doesn't like his dad. He runs through this journey with his teacher assigning a project with has to do with the topic of Buddhism. He kind of just sucks everyone in and makes him think he is good at basketball when really it's just luck. So they ask him questions. And soon his mom wants to meet this special girl Woody but ru This really great story of San Lee who of course fakes himself as being A Zen Buddhist. He meets a girl named Emily or "Woody" who has a reason to her name with her mom. Sin doesn't like his dad. He runs through this journey with his teacher assigning a project with has to do with the topic of Buddhism. He kind of just sucks everyone in and makes him think he is good at basketball when really it's just luck. So they ask him questions. And soon his mom wants to meet this special girl Woody but runs into a little problem. And turns into shocking news. Will San keep his fake identity to just get attention? Has he been going to the library to find books of that knowledge and soon realizes he enjoys it but might be caught.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sophia

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The plot of this book wasn't the best at all. It seemed like it kept on dragging on, and soon enough I lost my interest in the book. However, once I was in the range of 100 pages until the end, it really started getting good. The main character, San, had a list of truths he had to face. Along with many freshly made bullies. It intrigued me, but the last two chapters of the book was a disappointment. I couldn't believe that Woody would just forgive San that easily. He was lying the whole book, bu The plot of this book wasn't the best at all. It seemed like it kept on dragging on, and soon enough I lost my interest in the book. However, once I was in the range of 100 pages until the end, it really started getting good. The main character, San, had a list of truths he had to face. Along with many freshly made bullies. It intrigued me, but the last two chapters of the book was a disappointment. I couldn't believe that Woody would just forgive San that easily. He was lying the whole book, but threw that away and forgives him. Maybe the moral is also about forgiveness, but I thought it was only about honesty. In the end, I feel that three stars is a good rating for this book. Not such a great book, but no so much of a bad one either.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Melody

    I thought this was a wise little book, and could be an interesting jumping off point for kids interested in Taoism. It's heavy-handed in parts, and one sees the train wreck coming from the very beginning but it's satisfying just the same. I liked San a lot, and was rooting for him the whole way through. Any book with a Zen basketball game is worth picking up. The switch to present tense at the end (which seems to be a thing for MG/YA books lately) is annoying. I get it, but it's intrusive and fe I thought this was a wise little book, and could be an interesting jumping off point for kids interested in Taoism. It's heavy-handed in parts, and one sees the train wreck coming from the very beginning but it's satisfying just the same. I liked San a lot, and was rooting for him the whole way through. Any book with a Zen basketball game is worth picking up. The switch to present tense at the end (which seems to be a thing for MG/YA books lately) is annoying. I get it, but it's intrusive and feels like the author not trusting the reader.

  27. 4 out of 5

    B.A. Wilson

    This sounds like a goofy book, and while it is occasionally funny, it is a lot more serious and interesting than it sounds. San moves to a new school and decides to be someone new. After answering a few too many questions about Zen Buddhism, he turns into a bit of a Zen Master for the school. San keeps up this persona by telling a lot of lies to his new friends, fellow students, and teachers. Will he be able to maintain this new San, or will everything come crashing down? Read the book to find o This sounds like a goofy book, and while it is occasionally funny, it is a lot more serious and interesting than it sounds. San moves to a new school and decides to be someone new. After answering a few too many questions about Zen Buddhism, he turns into a bit of a Zen Master for the school. San keeps up this persona by telling a lot of lies to his new friends, fellow students, and teachers. Will he be able to maintain this new San, or will everything come crashing down? Read the book to find out.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Aubrey Hitt

    This book was really funny. I got really annoyed because the main character kept lying to people and I just wanted him to spit the truth out but that is the charm of the book. I also learned a little bit about zen culture while I was reading this. I think this book would be perfect for upper elementary students who are about to go through peer pressure and will want to hide their true identity. It is very relate-able to middle schoolers.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nehal

    This book is great it has believable character such as are main protagonist San lee he is awkward un athletic boy who somehow through the powers of Buddha makes him self popular only one thing he isn't Buddhist. The book starts off slow but through the middle of the book it's starts to pick pace and becomes a really fun to read book I recommend this to anyone though adults might not find the excitement a younger audience would find in this book

  30. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Wille

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was probably my least-favorite Jordan Sonnenblick book. There were point when I loved it, but overall, the ending ruined it. He was a liar and people just forgave him. It did not send a very good message to the readers. On the other hand, he did own up for things he did and it was his redeeming quality that set him apart from his father. I'm not sure I'd be able to forgive him as easily as Woody did.

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