21 November 2015

Thank You!

This blog is permanently paused.

Please feel free to wander around, find reviews of old favorites or discover something new for yourself here that you can read courtesy of your library or local bookstore.

And always, keep reading! Keep writing! Keep sharing your love of words and stories with each other.

04 October 2013

Me, Him, Them, and It by Caela Carter

Since her mom and dad decided to split up and then get back together for her sake, Evelyn's entire existence has changed. She hates spending time in the "Silent House," with parents who divide their time between her, each having assigned evenings to eat dinner with their daughter, each having different roles of designated separate responsibility in her life. Evelyn isn't even really a piece in her family's whole anymore. So, Evelyn becomes "Bad Evelyn," because she can do whatever she wants without caring.

The first things she does is start drinking and having sex with her steady non-boyfriend guy. And, whoops, Bad Evelyn and Good Evelyn both are pregnant.

Unlike some stereotypical teen novels, this story is not seeped in drama, but rather it follows the emotional and psychological journey of Evelyn as she struggles to figure out the "right thing" to do. She struggles with what is right for her, right for the baby, and right for her family, while also trying to figure out where she stands with the baby's father, with her closest friend, and with her new extended family of aunts and cousins who are stepping up with support, guidance, and love -- even when they are not wanted.

This story is recommended to everyone, though high school girls (and parents of) will probably get the most out of it. Evelyn has a pretty incredible internal voice, and the story is full of the reality of the gray areas of life.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

Leonard Peacock is pretty unhappy. And his depression has led him to a couple of conclusions: Asher Beal, his former childhood best friend, needs to die. And he would be much happier if he, himself, wasn’t alive anymore either.

But first, it’s Leonard’s birthday and he wants to give each of his four best friends a gift to say goodbye. The first gift is for his very best friend, the old man with whom he watches old Humphrey Bogart movies on days he skips school. The second is for a friend who isn’t really a friend; the rare fellow student with whom he has a relatively positive relationship, but maybe that’s only because they don’t really know anything about each other. The third is for the girl that he really, really wants to kiss, but who is inherently wrong for him (and him for her). And the last is for Herr Silverman, his Holocaust teacher and the only person in his life that invites him to speak and seems to really want to hear what he has to say. He also leaves a wrapped present for his mother (though he wonders why he bothers).

And he saves one final thing for himself: the P-38 pistol that his grandfather saved from Nazi wartime.

Recommended to all high school readers, and all adults, too. This novel is designed to make you think, and Leonard’s story is presented in such a way that we are not only rooting for someone to save him, but we are hoping that he - and all those who are hurting - can figure out a way to save himself, because all futures are worth having.

07 September 2013

The Program by Suzanne Young

Teenage suicide has become an international epidemic, ending in the death of one out of every three teens in the United States, and as a result a few larger cities have been trying out a new solution to end the killing. Even London is moving towards instating the Program.

The Program is a place that teens can go to be cured of all of the things that cause them to be upset, distraught, depressed, and desperate to end their lives. When teens go into the Program, they are in a very bad place, and when they come out they are calm and peaceful - and they remember almost nothing of their life "before." 

Sloane, her boyfriend, and their friends are terrified of the Program, knowing that it leaves the cured as blank versions of themselves. So they hide their grief (because all life is a natural balance of joys and pains) as best they can, but when the Program starts to come after those they love, they might not have the power to stop it. 

Sloane narrates this story, and being able to see all sides of the program is a special treat. Readers will root for the characters every step of the way, through their love, their hurt, and their love again. The worst thing about this story is that the sequel, The Treatment, isn't scheduled to be due out until 2014! :)

Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt

As a little girl, Anna loved her life with her mom. But as she started to grow up, the cycle of men in and out of their new home (after new home) was confusing and frustrating. Her mom spent less and less time with her, and more time away with her new husband when things were good and away at work when things weren't so good. When boys at school started to pay attention to Anna, she found ways to feel good about herself - and ways that she allowed them to make her feel good, too. It seems like overnight she grew a reputation, but she never quite seems to lose just who she is at heart.

She has one girlfriend in her life that she cares deeply about, but Toy is always off with a different man who is treating her to all of the wonderful things in life, and Anna can't understand why she isn't good enough. And then Sam changes everything. 

This book is recommended to high school girls, who will meet a seriously strong female character who might be a little lost but who is never untrue.

05 September 2013

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

Rafe is a pretty average gay high school kid. He doesn't get bullied, he doesn't get beaten up, and his friends and family accept him just the way he is. The problem is that what he IS seems to equal the fact that he's GAY, and that's all anyone sees. He's Rafe, the gay kid. So he decides to go off to the faraway east coast to an all-boys prep school, un-gay. He's not straight all of a sudden, but he decides that he's not going to "be" gay either.

Unfortunately, Rafe falls in love with one of his new friends, a guy that quickly becomes one of the best friends he's ever had in his whole life. And when their relationship starts to get, um, intense, Rafe know he needs to come clean. But he also knows that telling the truth could cost him his happiness. Or is it the lies that have cost him everything?

Recommended to anyone - there is enough humor here to balance out the harshness of the situation, and everyone is forced to answer the question of self-acceptance. 

Period.8 by Chris Crutcher

Period .8 refers to Mr. Lodgson's class, where honesty is the best policy and everything is confidential, where you can talk about anything or nothing, and where you can skip without getting in trouble, but nobody ever does. Period .8 is the "safe place." Mr. Logs has respect for his students, and they have respect for each other. Everybody trusts that what they see is the truth.

Everything starts to go to hell when Paulie admits to his girlfriend Hannah that he cheated on her. He loves her and wants to explain himself, that it really isn't what she thinks, but she won't give him a chance at redemption. She's pissed, and he should definitely have known better. But as the story begins to unravel, more and more questions are raised without any clear answers. There's one guy, Arnie Stack, who seems to want to reassure everyone that everything is fine, and Paulie is convinced that Arnie knows more than he's letting on. And when Arnie sets his sights on the now single Hannah, Paulie sets out to prove it.

This is a mystery of a different sort, combining the traditional with the psychological, and mixing our emotions up all along the way. There's really intrigue here, and more than anyone's fair share of danger. It seems that nobody and nothing is off limits. 

Recommended to high school readers. There are lots more titles available from classic YA author Chris Crutcher.