This collection of poems written by teens is a powerful read. Writerscorps works with disadvantaged youth by encouraging them to express themselves th...moreThis collection of poems written by teens is a powerful read. Writerscorps works with disadvantaged youth by encouraging them to express themselves through their writing. It is easy to see that these teens have a lot to say. While I do not have a lot of background in poetry, or any real pull to read it, I really enjoyed what these teens had to say.
Sprinkled throughout the book are tips for how to make your own writing journal. The first, title “Writing Journal”, explains that you should start with a blank black-and-white composition notebook. They urge readers to make it their own be decorating the book with pictures, symbols and anything that reflects you. This is the start of your own personal writing journal. On the other dark colored pages, readers will be given an idea or situation to get inspired by. These include imagine you are in your favorite month, or imagine you are sitting in a room with everyone who has ever been in your family. I found these to be inspiring to potential writers.
All of these teens are from one of three places in America: San Francisco, Washington D.C., or New York. Despite being from three different places in our country, each teen seems to be writing about the same ideas. Trying to find a sense of who they are, dealing with family issues, growing up, living in a tough neighborhood are a few of the topics written about. One of my favorite poems that I read was called, “My Real Name” written by Elena Noel from Washington, D. C.. It goes, “Today my name is colorful. – Yesterday my name was dead souls. – Tomorrow my name will be lively spirits. – My friends think my name is fire. – The police think my name is burden. – My parents think my name is symphony. – Secretly I know my name is anything I want it to be.” You can really feel how Elena is being pulled by all of these different people in her life, but in the end, she is who she wants to be.
This is a great book for teens to read. Whether they need a book of poems for a school project, or they just want to try something new, I think that they will be able to enjoy what these teens have to say.
Tohru Honda, a sweet orphaned girl, was living in the forest in a tent waiting for the remodeling of her grandfather’s home to be finished. What she d...moreTohru Honda, a sweet orphaned girl, was living in the forest in a tent waiting for the remodeling of her grandfather’s home to be finished. What she did not know was that the land was owned by the Sohma family and when they found her one day in the forest they offered to take her in. The Sohma boys are good looking and sometimes a bit testy, but Tohru instantly feels a connection with them. It turns out, they are not exactly human; their family is cursed with the spirits of the Chinese Zodiac. Whenever they are hugged by someone of the opposite sex, they instantly transform into their animals. Tohru finds this out quickly after hugging Kyo and turning him into her favorite zodiac animal the cat. Kyo has always felt on the outs with his family, legend has it that the cat is the only animal not invited by God to join a party and Kyo still feels this betrayal on a daily basis. He is constantly trying to prove himself by attempting to beat Yuki. Both Yuki and Kyo seem to struggle with the fate they have been given and after Tohru comes into their lives they both go to her for advice. In the end, Tohru’s time with the Sohma’s must come to an end and after getting a call from her grandfather, Tohru leaves them. She cannot believe she let herself get so attached to the boys though. How could she have been so silly to think they would let her be part of their family? Tohru has always struggled with feeling that she does not belong, and now that she is living with her actual family she realizes that with Kyo, Yuki, and Shigure is where she belongs. This was my first manga that I have ever read and I am glad I started with this one. While a lot of the manga I have seen include lots of fight scenes, this one was more about the relationships that Tohru was building. The author has written comments before each chapter and one of them caught be off guard when she said that this manga is often referred to as a comedy. I personally did not really see that. Maybe it is because I do not know a lot about the Japanese manga culture, but I still enjoyed it. This would be a first pick for me to recommend to readers who are just starting to read mangas.
After her mother gets remarried, Bella Swan decides that her best option would be to move to the small town of Forks, Washington to live with her dad....moreAfter her mother gets remarried, Bella Swan decides that her best option would be to move to the small town of Forks, Washington to live with her dad. After living in the bright and warm state of Arizona for most of her life, the cold and drizzly weather of Forks is hard to get used to. Not only that, but Bella is now the new girl in town and everyone has heard of her! The one thing she was not prepared for was that people would actually want to get to know her and befriend her. Not only has she made a few girlfriends on her first day of school, she also has some boys who are more than willing to help her get from class to class. There is only one boy who has caught Bella’s eyes though, Edward Cullen. Jessica explains that Edward and his brothers and sisters are different than most kids and they do not interact or give the time of day to anyone but each other. Bella cannot help but be intrigued, they are all beautiful! Edward and Bella have a class together, and she end up having to sit next to him. The only problem is that Edward acts like Bella has just stabbed him with a pencil and seems revolted by her presence. After saving Bella from an out-of-control car with his body, Bella knows that there is more to Edward than just his beautiful face. She goes through all the options: Superman, Spiderman, Batman? He had to be something other than human it was the only explanation. Edward has no other choice but to validate Bella’s questions; he is not human he is actually a vampire. Edward explains his reaction to Bella that first day: her blood is his own personal drug. He craves her, but because of his growing love for her there is no way he could ever do to her what has been done to him. This beautifully drawn graphic novel shows the first part of the book Twilight written by Stephanie Meyer. It begins at the very start of the book and takes readers all the way through the romantic glade scene where Edward shows Bella how he glitters when his body hits sunlight. I am not sure how many volumes it will be in total for Twilight, but it will definitely be at least one more volume. Young Kim has done an amazing job with the graphics in this book. Most are in black and white with a few pages including only a hint of color. What I like most is that the characters are not based off the movie stars in the film adaptation of the book (Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart), but they are more true to what I think fans picture in their minds while reading the book. Throughout the book there are lines Meyer has written, but it does not flow like you are reading a book. The graphics really add to the story. Being a huge fan of Twilight, and having read it more than once, I did not feel like it was a chore to read this graphic novel. I would recommend this to fans of the book, as well as reluctant readers who are looking for something fun.
**spoiler alert** Aisling (Ash) has little memory of her mother because she died suddenly when she was only a small child. The one thing that Ash reme...more**spoiler alert** Aisling (Ash) has little memory of her mother because she died suddenly when she was only a small child. The one thing that Ash remembers about her mother is how she always told her about fairy tales. In the land where Ash grew up, long ago, fairy tales used to mean much more than just a made up story. For the people, they were real.
Two weeks after her mother passed away, Ash’s father left their country home and went into town on business. This was not unusual for him, but when she received word that her father would be coming home earlier than planned and with someone, Ash’s mind started to race. Upon his arrival, Ash learned that her father had taken a new wife, Lady Isobel, and she would now have two step sisters Ana and Clara. From the very beginning, things did not go well with her new family. It only got worse though when her father suddenly got sick and they were forced to leave the house Ash had grown up in as well as her mother’s grave and move into Lady Isobel’s home.
Ash’s father passes away soon after she arrives at her new home and things quickly go from bad to worse for her. Her stepmother informs her that her father has left her in immense debt and the only way Ash will be able to repay her is to become her servant.
Despite all of the hardships that Ash has come to know, there are a few things that keep her going. One is a mysterious man named Sidhean whom she comes upon during a trip through the woods. She soon learns that Sidhean is everything that the fairy tales her mother told her are about! Her other happiness comes when she befriends the King’s royal huntress Kaisa; a friendship that grows into something much more. How can Ash escape her stepmother, please Sidhean who is in love with her, and follow her heart all at the same time? With a little bit of fairy magic, Ash soon finds out.
I really enjoyed this new twist on the old tale of Cinderella. Malinda Lo breathes new life into the tale by adding the factor of fairies, but still keeping the structure of the story most people know and love. I was a little thrown off by what becomes Ash’s love affair with the huntress, and did not fully understand where it came from or where it was going until the very last page. Overall, I think that this novel will appeal most to teen girls and I do believe they will be enchanted by Ash’s very own fairy tale.
Awards: William C. Morris YA Debut Award Nominee (2010). Characters: Asiling/Ash, Sidhean, Kaisa, Lady Isobel, Ana, Clara, Gwen, Prince Adian. Genre: Fairy tale Subjects/Themes: Cinderella, Fairies, Love. (less)
**spoiler alert** Peters, Julie Anne. By the Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead. HC. $16.99 ISBN: 9781423116189.
Imagine a life where all you have known i...more**spoiler alert** Peters, Julie Anne. By the Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead. HC. $16.99 ISBN: 9781423116189.
Imagine a life where all you have known is being bullied: verbally, physically, and mentally. You have tried to kill yourself two times before, once by slitting your wrists and the last time by drinking ammonia and each time you have failed. Even after these attempts, the harassment did not stop. Your parents moved you around to different schools, thinking this would help to stop the bullying, but now instead of everyone bullying you and knowing who you are, you are just the new kid who is being bullied.
This sadly is what Daelyn Rice has always known. She has never been what one would call skinny, and the main attack from her bullies has been at the expense of her weight. Even after Daelyn went to “fat camp” and lost 50 pounds, the harassment continued. So after her botched suicide attempts, Daelyn decides that she needs to get things right this last time and joins a website, “Through-the-light.com”.
Through-the-light becomes a refuge for Daelyn. It is a place where she can anonymously tell her story and those who read it understand what she has gone through and share their own stories. It is also a website that attempts to help its users figure out the best way to obtain what they all want: death.
The only thing that Daelyn never counted on was having people come into her life, right when she wanted to end it, people who would make her question her goal of death. Santana, a boy who lives right next to her school, starts showing up every day after school and waiting with Daelyn on a bench for her mother to come pick her up. Despite her neck brace and the fact that she cannot talk, which are both complications of her last suicide attempt, Santana shows interest in her and does not give up on her. For Daelyn though, all she has ever known is to not trust people who try to come into her life; so what could possibly make Santana any different?
Despite the in-your-face descriptions of the suicide methods, and the hard to read sections about Daelyn’s abuse, I found this book interesting and raw. The book starts with “23 Days” and each chapter counts down until the day that should be her completion day. By blogging on Through-the-light, readers get a firsthand look into the abuse she has gone through.
One problem that I have with this book is that it is so raw and some parents might not like their child reading material about suicide and how to make it happen. However, it does have resources in the back for readers to look in to if they are in need. I think there are a lot of teenagers out there that can relate to Daelyn’s story in one way or another. Maybe they have been made fun of because of their weight, or they were sexually abused like she was. In the end, I was also disappointed by the fact that Julie Anne Peters basically left it up to the reader to decide if Daelyn actually went through with her suicide. And I felt that I would have enjoyed the book more if I had some clear closure on what she chose to do in the end. Either way, I would be hesitant to recommend this book to teenagers simply because of the fact that it is so blunt about suicide.
Tally Youngblood cannot wait until she is sixteen! For all her life, she has looked forward to this and her chance to finally become Pretty. Where Tal...moreTally Youngblood cannot wait until she is sixteen! For all her life, she has looked forward to this and her chance to finally become Pretty. Where Tally lives, the people are divided between those who are Pretties, and those who are Uglies. Until your sixteenth birthday, you are called an ugly; not smart, childish, and most of all unattractive. One of the main things that Uglies enjoy doing is playing pranks and pushing the envelope and Tally is one of the best! After her best friend Peris turned pretty, Tally never expected she would find another friend. Shay and Tally stumbled upon one another in the restricted Pretty Town after Tally had snuck over to see Peris. Shay and Tally immediately click; they even have the same birthday! The one difference about the two of them is that Shay is not sure she wants to become Pretty. Eventually Shay explains to Tally that there are people outside of their home who live in a place called The Smoke. They live off of the land and they are not at all interested in becoming Pretty. On the eve of their sixteenth birthdays, Shay comes to Tally and tells her of her plan to leave and go to The Smoke and she wants Tally to come with her. All Tally has ever wanted was to be Pretty, and leaving to go to this place, that she is not even sure is real, is not part of her plan. After Tally told Shay she was not going, she left her with decoded directions to The Smoke if she were ever to change her mind. The next morning, after Shay had run away, Tally starts the process of becoming Pretty. Things do not seem right though, and that is because the adults in charge know that Shay has run away and they want Tally to find her and expose the location of The Smoke. The only way Tally will ever become Pretty is if she does this. Tally journeys to The Smoke, and once she arrives she is amazed by the lifestyle of these people. Life seems so much easier where she is from! She struggles with her secret mission and the fact that all these people she is starting to really like she will eventually have to betray. Will Tally go through with her mission so she can become Pretty, or will she learn that being Pretty is not all that it is made out to be? Uglies is a very young adult novel. On Amazon.com, the book has over 350 reviews and a rating of four and a half stars out of five. Most people felt that the book was well written and the story really drew them in. Tally is a well liked character, and readers enjoyed learning about her journey and growth and are very interested to see what happens next! Overall, I was a bit underwhelmed by this book. I listened to it via a playaway player and I think my indifference might be linked to the boring voice of the narrator. I enjoyed the story and her blooming love with a Smoke inhabitant David, but all I really wanted was to hear about her becoming Pretty! This is the first book in a series of four, and I have heard that my hope for Tally eventually becomes a reality. The good thing about Uglies was that it left me wanting to know more about the lives in the story.
Awards: South Carolina Books Award Nominee for Young Adult Book Award (2008). Characters: Tally Youngblood, Shay, Peris, David, Dr. Cable. Genre: Science fiction, Fantasy Subjects/Themes: Love, friendship, personal beauty. (less)
**spoiler alert** Life for fourteen-year-old Jamie, better known as “Punkzilla”, has been pretty rough. His parents had shipped him off to military sc...more**spoiler alert** Life for fourteen-year-old Jamie, better known as “Punkzilla”, has been pretty rough. His parents had shipped him off to military school because of his bad behavior; his dad is a retired military man and his mom is a quiet sometimes pushed around woman. He did not last long at the military school, and he ran away to Portland, Oregon to try and find something better. Once in Portland, he makes friends with the wrong crowd and gets into all kinds of bad situations: drugs, stealing, and odd sexual encounters. Now, Punkzilla is making a trip across the country to reach Memphis, Tennessee where his sick gay brother is living. Peter knows a little about what Jamie has been going through, he too was ostracized from his family after coming out to them. Jamie’s story is told through a series of letters written to Peter giving the full details of not only the journey he’s on, but the ones that he had experienced before deciding to go and see his brother. Along the way, Punkzilla meets all kinds of people and learns a lot about what it takes to grow up and how much he is willing to change. It is obvious that the life Jamie had been living was not easy; being fourteen and living free of parents comes at a cost. The letters are a vivid, no holds barred look into what Jamie-Punkzilla had been going through, and there is no doubt that some of the situations are hard to read. Adam Rapp has written a raw story with Punkzilla. As the reader learns more about what Jamie has gone through, and how it has made him into the person who is writing the letters, it is hard to not hope that finally something will work out for him. That he will make it to Tennessee before his brother passes, that he will meet up with his family and fix things, that he will finally make a smart choice in how to live his life. As an outsider, I felt like he wanted to make good choices and do the right thing, but it was not an easy choice for him. Overall, I liked this book. I felt that at times the language was a little jarring, but it would have taken away from Jamie’s overall voice if it were not written in the way it was. The reader should definitely be ready for gritty and raw language before starting this book. I think that a lot of boys will be able to connect with Punkzilla’s story and I personally would use it as a recommendation for teen boys.
Awards: Printz Honor (2010). Characters: Jamie/Punkzilla, Peter. Genre: General fiction, Guys read. Subjects/Themes: Drugs, Letters, Growing up, Teens living on their own. (less)
Cameron Smith is sixteen and a slacker. He does not really fit in anywhere in high school despite the fact that his twin sister is popular and driven....moreCameron Smith is sixteen and a slacker. He does not really fit in anywhere in high school despite the fact that his twin sister is popular and driven. His parents have started to continually remind Cameron that they are disappointed in him, and he does not seem to be living up to their expectations. Things start to get very weird for Cameron though and he quickly catches all of his family’s attention: he becomes very sick with the disease Creutzfeldt-Jacob also known as “mad cow” disease. This causes Cameron to lose control of his body as well as hallucinate. After being hospitalized, the really weird things start to happen. Cameron learns from a pink-haired guardian angel named Dulcie that he must go on a quest to find Dr. X and to save the world and in process heal him from his seemingly incurable disease. Cameron convinces a school mate named Gonzo, who happens to be in the hospital at the same time and staying in the same room, to accompany him. Gonzo is a little person and also a hypochondriac. On this journey, Cameron and Gonzo come across weird and bizarre situations and eventually acquire another person along their journey: a yard gnome named Balder who thinks that Cameron is now his master and does whatever Cameron asks. Led by cryptic clues, the three guys take on a journey that leads them throughout the country and introduces them to interesting people. A jazz musician, a cult, drunken frat boys, an outrageously popular band, and a fire monster are a few of the people they come across on their expedition. Is this journey really happening, or is it all a hallucination? Will they ever find Dr. X and will he even know the answer to their question? These are some of the questions I had when I read Going Bovine. While this books has been given great reviews on both Amazon.com and Goodreads.com and even won the Printz Award, I did not enjoy the story as a whole. I found Cameron’s journey to be bizarre and at times slow paced. I like Cameron as a character though, and the first part of the book really caught my attention. However, as his journey dragged on I found it harder and harder to continue reading. And then, in the end, I still did not understand what was really going on. On Goodreads.com and Amazon.com readers really seem to enjoy Going Bovine. One reader compares the story to Don Quixote and parallels Cameron’s journey to the wacky ones that Don Quixote and Sancho Panza went on. Another reader brings up the fact that this book is so very different from reader’s have learned to expect from Libba Bray. I could not agree with this more! Overall, I have found that most readers really enjoyed this book and while some share my frustrations the majority of people love this book. I would recommend this book to teens, mainly teen boys, and I think it will be very popular among most young readers. I would warn about the language in the book though, there are quite a few cuss words. Warning to potential readers: be ready for a bizarre, but epic journey!
Awards: Printz Award (2010), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Young Adult Fiction (2009). Characters: Cameron, Dulcie, Gonzo, Balder, Dr. X. Genre: Fantasy, Guys read. Subjects/Themes: Mad cow disease, journey/quest. (less)
**spoiler alert** Matt never knew exactly why he was different from all of the other people who lived in Opium –a strip of poppy fields that lay betwe...more**spoiler alert** Matt never knew exactly why he was different from all of the other people who lived in Opium –a strip of poppy fields that lay between the U.S. and what was once Mexico. He was forbidden to go outside his caretaker Celia’s home, and he had to hide if anyone ever passed by her cottage. Celia had raised Matt as her own child, but never let him believe that she was his real mother. She did this because Matt is a clone, implanted in the belly of a cow and grown for nine months before being cut out. To Celia, Matt is human, but to everyone else he is a beast and not human in any way.
One day, Matt gets too curious when a group of children come to his window, and he breaks all the rules he’s been told by breaking the window and talking to the children. Badly hurt by falling onto the broken glass, Matt is carried into a mansion the likes of which he could never imagine. Once the adults inside find out that Matt is not a normal boy, but the clone, he thrown out onto the front lawn an action that infuriates El Patrón, the drug lord and ruler of Opium.
Matt was made from the body tissue of El Patrón. Instead of ruining Matt’s brain right after he was born, El Patrón decided to let him live a normal, yet extremely privileged, life. El Patrón is 140 years old, living on harvested body parts from other clones like Matt. Essentially they are one in the same in terms of DNA, but Matt learns that he has to decide if he wants to live a cruel life like El Patrón, or become better than that.
Nancy Farmer’s futuristic thriller is exciting from start to finish. While the “Cast of Characters” and “Alacrán Family History” map initially come off as intimidating in the beginning, the reader will not need to rely on these two sections which are intended to help the reader keep track of the many characters. The reader follows Matt all the way from the very beginning of his life to the age of fourteen when his life changes forever. Definitely set in the future, Farmer does not give her reader’s an exact date to go off of, but it does not distract from the story as a whole. The reader follows Matt on a journey through his childhood and into his teen years, growing into an intelligent young man. While some readers may not enjoy the science fiction aspect of this book, Matt’s struggles with being good and resisting the evil that surrounds him is a common idea that might hook some readers. (less)
Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl living in a small village in Nepal. Her family struggles each and every day to live, but Lakshmi finds the best in...moreLakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl living in a small village in Nepal. Her family struggles each and every day to live, but Lakshmi finds the best in the life that she has. She is able to look at all the good she has in her life, her loving mother Ama, her baby brother, her pet goat Tali, and even her gambling stepfather. Ama explains that they are lucky to have a man in their lives, even though Lakshmi can see how toxic he is to their family.
After a 60-day drought, Lakshmi and her family seem to be losing hope. What comes next though, are terrible Himalayan monsoons which wash away all of her families crops. Lakshmi’s only choice is to go to the city and get a job to help support her family. Her stepfather takes her into the main town outside of her village where she meets a glamorous stranger promising her she will be able to find a job as a maid in the city. Eager to help her family, Lakshmi goes with this lady whom she calls her Auntie sold for 800 rupees. They journey for days and Lakshmi pretends to be an old man’s wife in order to get across the border to India, the place where she realizes the real meaning of her new job.
Lakshmi has not been sold to be a maid, she has been sold to become a prostitute. An old woman named Mumtaz owns the brothel that Lakshmi has been sold into and she rules the business with fear and cruelty. She soon learns that she is Mumtaz’s property until she has payed off her family’s debt, a debt that is almost impossible to pay off.
Terrified and disgusted with this new life she has found herself living, Lakshmi finds friendship with some of the other girls in the brothel and they help her to learn ways to cope with condition she is in. One day, everything changes for Lakshmi when an American man pays her a visit. She had been warned about the American men, to not trust their bribes of freedom. However, it seems the only way for Lakshmi to escape the terror she faces each day, she just has to decide for herself if she is willing to risk everything for a chance to get back her life.
Patricia McCormick has written a startling, heart-wrenching, and bold novel exploring the sexual slavery trade that exists today. McCormick explains in the back of Sold that she was inspired to write this novel by all of the girls who have had to endure the same fate as Lakshmi, interviewing aid workers as well as survivors themselves. This is a fast-paced novel that teens will find easy to read, however, it might be a hard topic to get through. There are no long chapters in this book, some only a paragraph long, but each explain more than one can imagine. It can even be argued that the shortest chapters often say the most. Sold will resonate best with female teens, and due to its sexual scenes it would be best suited to older teens. This novel will educate all readers in the terror that young girls around the world are facing today, it is an eye-opening read. (less)
**spoiler alert** Unhappy with the life she’s been given; 15-year-old Daisy is ready to start her new life. Growing up in Manhattan, Daisy never felt...more**spoiler alert** Unhappy with the life she’s been given; 15-year-old Daisy is ready to start her new life. Growing up in Manhattan, Daisy never felt like she had a real family. Her mother died while giving birth to her, and her father seems too wrapped up in his new wife and their baby on the way. Daisy’s life changes forever though when she goes out to England to live her Aunt Penn and her cousins. Living here is nothing like anything Daisy has ever experienced. Edmond, Isaac, and Piper do not have the restrictions Daisy has known. They do not go to school, they do not have constant supervision, and they basically make do on their own. For Daisy, this is the first time in her life that she has feels what a real family is, and what seems like a weird and bizarre experience soon turns out to be the one thing Daisy cannot live without. Throughout Daisy’s story, the reader is told about a war that is on the brink of breaking out. While it may seem like just a side note, this war soon turns everyone’s lives upside down. After Aunt Penn goes to speak at a conference, the terrorists take matters in their own hands and set off a series of bombs sparking an all out war. While Daisy and her cousin’s suspect that Aunt Penn is just having trouble getting away, they decide that for the time being they will band together and survive on their own on their farm far out in the country. The war soon catches up with them, and splits them up. Daisy and Piper are forced to separate from the boys, and they go on an adventure that will prove devastating and trying. The only thing driving the girls on is the hope that they will soon be reunited with the boys. Meg Rosoff has written a stunning and sometimes hard to read novel. Daisy has a witty and strong voice, her strength shown especially during the terrible circumstances that she and Piper must face. I found it amazing that she had the drive to keep going, even when things seemed like it would never get better. One driving force for Daisy is her love for Edmund. While some readers will probably find this love disturbing, they are first cousins, as I kept reading it became something normal for me. I would have never thought I would understand this love. Learning how war affects her and everything around her, finding what real family is and the importance of them is how she lives now.
Awards: Printz Award (2005). Characters: Daisy, Piper, Edmund, Isaac Genre: General fiction, War fiction Subjects/Themes: Love, family, war, journeys