Jennifer Niven Rocks this book. Powerful and poignant this is a story that will stay with you. Libby and Jack have to be brave every day. I am so happJennifer Niven Rocks this book. Powerful and poignant this is a story that will stay with you. Libby and Jack have to be brave every day. I am so happy they found each other in this story and that Jennifer found the words to tell it. ...more
I have no TV- I have no idea who Satdie is; the is a Duck something (Commander?) in the south? This is cowritten with Cindy Coloma- A quick read: AJ haI have no TV- I have no idea who Satdie is; the is a Duck something (Commander?) in the south? This is cowritten with Cindy Coloma- A quick read: AJ has been swiftly transplanted from Louisana to Nashville, unbeknownst to the kids- Mom has reconnected with her high school sweetheart after her beloved husband has died. The kids are grieving but even tho Mom misses Dad, she really does need to move on. Hence this new life for everyone. AJ is to start a new school- a ritzy private school- she can handle the academics- but the social scene is crazy. Add to this a film crew looking for an angle to a new reality show. If AJ's life was a challenge before- now it is just plain complicated! Ultimately decency and honor prevail....more
Anyone listening to AM talk radio knows that to survive a social/environmental crisis we need, gold, guns and grub. You got that, you got it handled. WAnyone listening to AM talk radio knows that to survive a social/environmental crisis we need, gold, guns and grub. You got that, you got it handled. Who knew, in a crisis maybe friends, family, charity and creativity play as big a role as having supplies on hand. When a winter-time solar flare is coincident with a massive electricity failure- all electricity; that thing that lights your stove, heater and back up generator even if they run on oil. All batteries, radios, phones, cars, snowmobiles.... In tiny Harmony, New Hampshire when the lights and communications go out the village and outlying households realize they need to pull together or die. Harmony is so small that the leadership is a volunteer safety officer who is also the school janitor. Leadership is essential in an emergency like this and Reggie Kingman is perfect for this role. He gathers the folks who need help into a central location and gets communal heat and food going. He disseminates encouraging and helpful information. All this is challenged by local survivalist Webster Bragg who comes off the mountain with his own take on the power outage; a conspiracy of the rich, powerful shadow groups that have been planning this for years. When his AR-15 fails to open the ATM, he comes back to the one and only grocery with gold, when that doesn't work he steals, no, no not steal, commandeers food and then burns the grocery when he has all he wants. He continues to assert his man with the biggest gun has the biggest say message as the days pass. The situation is scary and grim and frankly, predictable. There are layers of ideas to ponder here. Just a few: Are we individually ready for a catastrophe of any kind? How much are we depending on fragile ways to communicate and travel? What is the outcome of allowing divisive hate mongering to continue unchallenged? What is our neighbor's name? Not a completely pleasant book, Mr. Philbrick tends to be unflinching when a theme is in his sights but worth reading, thinking and talking about. ...more
Grieving teens find St Ignatius relics and his original text of Exercises that speak to discerning spirits. The gist being that what some might call-Grieving teens find St Ignatius relics and his original text of Exercises that speak to discerning spirits. The gist being that what some might call- bad impulses/good ideas/ conscience- Ignatius believes to be spirits of dead people nudging living souls into behaviors that are important to the spirit. Needless to say, not all the details are nailed down... At any rate 4 grieving teens who have formed a mini family delve into this and find peace, unsettling frustration and a way to ascertain good and bad impulses. I like that this idea of considering our impulses and searching among causes and outcomes is presented in a teen title. Stopping and thinking is never a bad thing, right?...more
Maryann recommended this so I sought it out. I read it in one gulp. Jessie has had a rough time lately. The adored only child of an adoring couple, tiMaryann recommended this so I sought it out. I read it in one gulp. Jessie has had a rough time lately. The adored only child of an adoring couple, tight with her best friend Scarlet, she is in the top of her class academically when her mom is diagnosed with cancer. After a lengthy illness Mom passes leaving Dad cratered and Jessie grieving. Six hundred and eighty eight days (if someone were counting) after Mom’s death, dad elopes with a woman from his online grieving group. Yep, instead of going to a pharmacist’s convention as he had told Jessie he was attending he went to Hawaii to marry Rachel a wealthy producer in LA. So with no notice Jessie and Dad pack the two cars, sell the house in Chicago and head to LA to live with Rachel and her flamboyant son Theo.
Jessie is plopped from her Chicago suburban school not into a California public school but an elite private academy where the kids can expect to go to an Ivy or perhaps slum it at Stanford. Her former credits frankly just don’t count here.
With Dad and Rachel distracted trying to make a new life together and Theo holding her at more than an arm’s length, Jessie has to tread the perilous hallways of this new place alone. That is, alone until she receives an anonymous email from Somebody/Nobody (S/N) offering to guide her in this new land. Having already clashed with the local mean girls Jessie is wary of a prank but also desperate. Cautiously she engages in an online conversation with S/N. S/N seems to be a “he” but firmly refuses to identify. Jessie does make her way; she finds friends, a job, a study partner, a crush and a secret admirer as the weeks pass. She even tries going back to Chicago where she has to face that everyone (including herself) has moved on and that there is more in this big world than her own drama and that she has help to give as well as receive.
Told often in email and IM, this is a sweet story of people and families in transition an ultimately hopeful tale.
Three things: 1.Waffle has two meanings. 2.Puns are a way to bond. 3.Giving help feels as good as receiving it. ...more
I like this book for a number of reasons; the characters are appealing and the story seamlessly brings lots of issues that families face into a centraI like this book for a number of reasons; the characters are appealing and the story seamlessly brings lots of issues that families face into a central conflict of young Adrian coming out in a homophobic football crazed Texas town.
Adrian is lucky/unlucky. He has 2 good friends who acknowledge him pretty much the way he is, they have a good friend in that he returns the favor. On the other hand his parents love him but are swamped in their own problems; Dad was in a nasty car wreck and now that insurance has run out (what is that about?) he has abandoned physical rehab and is losing more and more mobility. He cannot work so Mom is working two jobs. They do what they can but Adrian dropped off their radar so to speak. One solace he has is his drawing table, papers and pencils- when Adrian is creating his comic character Graphite his is in his own world. Graphite is a creative superhero, his power is to create, not destroy. As the story progresses, this is the theme and the values that Adrian adheres to.
Adrian, Trent and Audrey know how to stay out of the sights of the local bullies. Doug is a football hero in Rock Hollow, Texas, he brings in the win game after game. His dad, a local police officer can grease any trouble Doug or the team get into if their hi jinks turn into harassment. Between his point score and family connections Doug and his sidekick can do no wrong in their little town.
When Doug violently attacks a gay waiter while Adrian is dining- he just can't help himself and jumps into the fray. The victim is rushed to the hospital, he is truly injured. The ensuing police report paints Doug as a victim acting in self defense. Cell phone video to the contrary is ignored. Adrian's sense of justice is offended even as his life is complicated by coming to the defense of a gay kid in a homophobic town.
The ensuing story is how Adrian figures out how to act justly within his own ethical constraints, be a good friend, show respect, act with empathy and come out of his many closets without undo harm. Well done, with lots to consider. ...more
Winnie, Ophelia and Tori have been cruising (somewhat uncomfortably) under the radar of Queen Bee Kylie and her little hive of mean girls. Just as theWinnie, Ophelia and Tori have been cruising (somewhat uncomfortably) under the radar of Queen Bee Kylie and her little hive of mean girls. Just as they seem to be drifting into Kylie's focus - Red-headed Virginia, Ginger, joins the school and deflects the bullying attention to herself.
The bullying is clearly over the top to most every kid in the grade and somehow invisible to the teachers. In science the group project is to answer a question about the body or the mind that puzzles the group. When one of the kids says, "Why are some kids mean?" the teacher jumps on that as a great research question. So bullied Ginger joins the group of Tori, Ophelia, Winnie and Mitch.
Cracks form in life long friendships as Ophelia realizes that addressing this problem will put the trio that just ducked the mean girl treatment squarely in Kylie's sights.
To my mind this book addresses the bullying situation from many angles looks squarely at many of the problems kids face when dealing with bullies.
I think school staff would benefit from reading this book as much as kids.
There are some references to God and praying but it is treated as a 'cafeteria' item that some people choose and that others do not.
All in all, a deftly handled book that addresses the rampant bullying problem faced by kids today in every school. ...more
Violent Ends is one of those books that will stick with me in the same way as 13 Reasons Why. This is a work that meanders through the life of Kirby MViolent Ends is one of those books that will stick with me in the same way as 13 Reasons Why. This is a work that meanders through the life of Kirby Matheson, who notoriously arrives at school with a loaded Glock that he empties shooting schoolmates and using the last bullet on himself. I heard a quote tonight that reminded me of a theme in this book. I will paraphrase a comment from Bryan Stevenson who wrote Just Mercy, he expressed that when a dramatic crime has occurred we define the accused as a monster; we define them by the crime, and as a two dimensional representation of the crime.
Addressing this idea, Shaun David Wilkinson contacted authors he admired and broached this book, a book that delves into the facets and life story of a young man who has entered a school with his Glock intent on murder and suicide. How did someone young or old come to this place? Shaun and his cohorts examine this with vignettes of Kirby Matheson’s short life told in the voices of neighbors, classmates, camp fellows, his bullies, admirers and family- even an inanimate object that has a story to tell.
A powerful and unsettling story of cruelty and missed opportunities this book leaves us with more questions than answers and more pain than peace.
The perfect book for folks possessing a big empathetic heart and non existent self confidence. The book opens when Caroline interrupts a PTO meeting iThe perfect book for folks possessing a big empathetic heart and non existent self confidence. The book opens when Caroline interrupts a PTO meeting in a moment of empathy for a shy, hardworking mom who is being callously eviscerated by the carefully coiffed, manicured and dressed PTO president. I think Caroline finally cuts the drama short with a sharp F*^% off to the bully running the show (oh, I mean meeting). Of course Caroline is embarrassed by her outburst and flees the meeting.
The next day Caroline is called away from her day job as a Sears Portrait photographer. She is summoned to school, the daughter of the PTO President just won't stop riding Polly, Caroline's daughter about the previous evening's events.
This is where the story goes charmingly wacky- When it becomes obvious that admin at the school are going to gang up on Polly. Caroline regroups, takes Polly to the car and heads out to Caroline's home town. As the Mother-Daughter Road Trip develops we see that Caroline has decided to lay an old childhood problem that has defined and haunted her to rest.
For folks who wish they had a redo with a bully- watching Caroline blunder through hers is fascinating, we root for her all the way. ...more
Not so much a supernatural romance as a spiritual romance.
Fred sees Aja at his tiny town high school in South Dakota and is smitten. Encouraged by hisNot so much a supernatural romance as a spiritual romance.
Fred sees Aja at his tiny town high school in South Dakota and is smitten. Encouraged by his lifelong friend Janet he approaches Aja and starts a life changing relationship.
Aja is a spiritual being who lives in 'this body'. People with Aja's qualities can instigate 'miracles' of healing and spiritual discovery. This attracts a young journalist who wants to use Aja to make her mark and launch her career. She has followed Aja across continents and has lured informers to keep her posted on Aja's movements, she sensationalizes Aja's gifts via youtube and intrudes on the small town of Elder, SD. Aja could not care less, she lives in the greater consciousness and observes the workings of what the local folk want to call God.
The book seems to be a vehicle for a philosophy demonstrating the barriers that our awareness of self places between us and the overarching awareness of unity with everything past, present and throughout the galaxies. This book will intrigue kids who want to ponder these thoughts.
A fun family book! The four Fletcher boys and their bemused dads are a joy. We follow these decent kids getting into creative scrapes as they meander tA fun family book! The four Fletcher boys and their bemused dads are a joy. We follow these decent kids getting into creative scrapes as they meander through the school year. A truly diverse crew, Sam is a charismatic soccer star turned thespian. Eli experiments with a school for the academically gifted to find that he actually enjoys recess and can learn on his own while he delves deeply into his many interests. Frog slams kindergarten with his wacky world view and Jax finds his way through fourth grade. All next door to the curmudgeon of the world, can he be charmed as the rest of us are?...more
Mysti has a challenging life and school has never been great socially but she has always been able to count on her chubby and witty best friend AnibalMysti has a challenging life and school has never been great socially but she has always been able to count on her chubby and witty best friend Anibal. That is, until this year. She has not seen Anibal all summer (grounded) and now that the school year has started he has informed her that he does not want her talking to him or acting like they know each other at school. He has slimmed down, developed some style and wants blend with the popular crowd and Mysti is "a girl who does not fit in".
Add to that a mom who will Not leave the house for anything and a dad who fell from a tree and is in a coma at the hospital. So many family responsibilities fall on Mysti's slim shoulders.
What Mysti has to do is develop Courage for Beginners and face the many, many demons that surround her. She has unlikely allies and heretofore unknown intrinsic resources. Instead of cruising through 7th grade in the same old rut, Mysti grows and develops by facing her problems and challenges....more
Dear Opl is an ambitious novel narrated by angry thirteen year old Opal who is struggling.
Dad has left, Mom is overworked, younger brother Ollie wearDear Opl is an ambitious novel narrated by angry thirteen year old Opal who is struggling.
Dad has left, Mom is overworked, younger brother Ollie wears women’s costumes every- single- day, (super creative ones) G’pa has moved in to help and is slowly crafting his place in the household.
What Opl describes is a family in pain. Dad did not leave, he died. Opal’s snarky humor and compulsive chocolate habit is her way of stuffing grief and loss out of sight and out of mind. Ollie’s dress up is not gender bending, it is a carefully crafted strategy for Mom. G’pa watches all this and waits for the best moment to carefully slip in a bit of his well-earned wisdom.
Even though Mom is swamped she is doing her best to nudge Opal from sweats into skinny jeans. She benignly ignores Ollie’s efforts. When Opl’s eating sends her blood sugar perilously close to a diabetic diagnosis, changes are out of Opl’s hands. At the same time Opl’s snark finally goes over the top and alienates her best and only friend. Alone and hungry Opl has time and space to make the changes she needs to inside and out.
Addressing pathetic American fast food/junk food habits, bullying, coming to terms with loss, family dynamic, the dinner table, self-image, snap judgements, surface judgements, friendship, homeless vets, yoga, and what bookstores bring to a community Shelley Sackier and her awesome editors have written a story to please kids and adults. ...more