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.