Students have been recommending Hautman's books for years, but it wasn't until this weekend that I finally picked one up. I'm slapping myself that I d...moreStudents have been recommending Hautman's books for years, but it wasn't until this weekend that I finally picked one up. I'm slapping myself that I didn't read his work sooner.
The story is told from the perspective of its narrator, 17 year-old Doug Hanson. Doug lives next door to his best friend, Andy Morrow. The two boys could not be more different: Doug is a model-train obsessed outsider who dreams of a romance with one of the "pretty girls" but can never make himself talk to her; Andy is the football team's starting quarterback and acts in school plays.
This novel reminds me of Chris Lynch's Inexcusable Even from the beginning of the novel, something is off about Dougie. Like Lynch's Keir, the way Doug tells his stories and the details he chooses to avoid hint that his interpretations of events isn't entirely factual.
This isn't Hautman's most celebrated work, yet I was was engaged from start to finish, Given how much I enjoyed watching Doug develop as a character, I am certain this will not be the last Hautman novel I read.(less)
In this quick read, Rainfield explores social issues and adds a paranormal twist. Her narrator, Kate su...moreI am a fan of Rainfeld's work and her honesty.
In this quick read, Rainfield explores social issues and adds a paranormal twist. Her narrator, Kate suffers from severe asthma. But her attacks give her glimpses into others' lives and futures. Those visions lead Kate to try to stop the suicide of a young woman suffering the aftermath of a brutal rape and to try to intervene to save her sister from domestic violence.
Rainsfeld may have tried to do a bit too much here by dealing with so many issues at once (sexual orientation, chronic illness, abuse, rape, sibling rivalry), but I was enaged from start to finish. I wavered between 3 and 4 stars on this one because of this overload. Still, I can imagine some readers with whom Rainfield's work will resonate. That truth through fiction made this 3.5 star book tip to 4 for me. I will have to get this one in paperback for my class library.
Keep writing these stories, Cheryl. There are readers who need them.(less)
As with all of Laurie Halse Anderson's work, I love the narrator. Hayley Rose and her father both suffer as a result of his PTSD. This book will speak...moreAs with all of Laurie Halse Anderson's work, I love the narrator. Hayley Rose and her father both suffer as a result of his PTSD. This book will speak to the truths of the children of Iraq and Afghanistan vets in the same way Speak spoke to the truths of teen violence.
Whatkeeps this from being a 5 star book for me is that Anderson doesn't deliver on some of the social critcism Hayley promises. With Speak's Melinda, Anderson's exploration was more...real? Through?
Still, this is a gripping reqd and a boom I will highly recommend. I still wish I could give it 4.5 stars.(less)
I love Percy's voice and when I heard him read his work at the National Book Festival, I was sold. It took me quite a while to get to the book, though...moreI love Percy's voice and when I heard him read his work at the National Book Festival, I was sold. It took me quite a while to get to the book, though.
Yes, it's about werewolves. But it's not really about werewolves. Horror is the lens through which Percy examines our world.
I admit it dragged a bit in the middle, which is why this isn't a 5-star book for me. But there's a gritty and somehow lyrical quality to Percy's writing that made me want to see what would happen next.(less)
I tore through this book. On one hand I asked myself: Why did I wait so long? On the other hand, I'm glad I am going to get the next book quickly. The...moreI tore through this book. On one hand I asked myself: Why did I wait so long? On the other hand, I'm glad I am going to get the next book quickly. The last line in the book...had I had to wait, the anguished cry of "Stiefvater!" would have echoed through my neighborhood at 2 a.m.(less)
Jo Knowles had me at hello. Seriously. This is the 3rd book I've read by Knowles, and I have a tough time walking away from the characters.
In this com...moreJo Knowles had me at hello. Seriously. This is the 3rd book I've read by Knowles, and I have a tough time walking away from the characters.
In this companion to Jumping Off Swings, Knowles tells the story of Josh and the year after the events of the first book. I say it's a companion rather than a sequel because Josh does not share the narration with anyone, which allowed me to be in Josh's head as he went on his own journey living with his uncle to escape his family life and the aftermath his junior year.
However, it's not vital to have read Jumping Off Swings to read Living With Jackie Chan. In fact, it had been long enough since I read the other that I'd forgotten Josh was even a character until most of the way through the book. That oversight doesn't hurt; I think I enjoyed Josh's development even more because I treated his as a completely new story.
I'm so glad I had the chance to read this September 2013 as an ARC. It's one that Knowles fans will love and it's one that will win new fans who will want to check out her other novels, too.(less)
I absolutely loved this book. The songs they talk about are the songs I knew of or listened to, so I was probably inclined to like this book from the...moreI absolutely loved this book. The songs they talk about are the songs I knew of or listened to, so I was probably inclined to like this book from the start. Though it pains me to call it historical fiction, it probably is. Park and Eleanor are my age.
But what I loved about this book was the confusing and wonderful feelings of first love each character experiences.
I'm sure this book deserves a much more thorough review, but for now, I'll just say that this is one of the best I've read all year.(less)
I picked up an advanced reader copy of this May 2013 release at NCTE in November 2012 because I was interested in the premise. I read it in a couple o...moreI picked up an advanced reader copy of this May 2013 release at NCTE in November 2012 because I was interested in the premise. I read it in a couple of hours on the plane ride home and think it will be an excellent addition to my class library.
The Rules for Disappearing is the 1st person narrative of "Meg Jones" a high school senior who has been placed in Witness Protection. Meg is the latest of the 6 names she has had in the last 8 months. She, her little sister, and her parents were whisked away from their lives and into a series of placements. Now, she's in Natchitoches, Louisiana, and tries not to get involved with her new classmates for fear of being ripped away yet again. She chafes under the watch of the federal marshals and wants answers from her father about why the family is in this mess. Her sister, "Mary" visibly fears the Suits and is a pale shadow of the bratty younger sister Meg knew. Their mother has fallen into the bottle to deal with the stress and isolation of the family. But neither her mother nor her father will give her any information.
Meg's story starts with the placement in Natchitoches and slowly unfolds as Meg becomes more involved with Ethan. Unlike her younger sister, Meg cannot stay passive and finds herself breaking the self-imposed "rules for disappearing." Elston carefully reveals more of Meg's past, and the reasons her family is in Witness Protection. Though her relationship with Ethan seemed a bit too quickly intense, I found myself wanting to know what happened and what led Meg's family into the program. This quick read might not satisfy adult audiences, but the mystery will keep most turning the pages. The Rules for Disappearing is Elston's debut novel, and marks a promising beginning.(less)
I downloaded the sample chapter of You Have Seven Messages and I was hooked. I loved the premise of Luna finding her mother's cell phone and trying to...moreI downloaded the sample chapter of You Have Seven Messages and I was hooked. I loved the premise of Luna finding her mother's cell phone and trying to uncover what actually happened the night she died. I loved Luna's mixture of worldliness and innocence. I loved the snappy dialog.
Why did I give it only 3 stars? I felt like some of the elements were over the top. Having Luna know both Orlando Bloom and Drew Barrymore did nothing to advance the plot and seemed to be little more than gratuitous celebrity worship to me. The stars Luna's father works with are not only irrelevant, but will quickly date the book. Oliver's father was also little more than a stereotype. While I acknowledge that most YA adults aren't central to the story, I really have no sense for why Oliver's father is so driven, other than to give Oliver something against which to struggle.
All in all, I'll probably read another Stewart Lewis novel. Despite the elements I didn't like, he's a good storyteller. If his next work builds on the strengths of this one, it will be a snappy, engaging read.(less)
If I hadn't read Scars first, I probably would have given this 5 stars. Both deal with cutting, but I felt Scars delved more into the reasons for cutt...moreIf I hadn't read Scars first, I probably would have given this 5 stars. Both deal with cutting, but I felt Scars delved more into the reasons for cutting as a coping mechanism. Still, Cut is a good read and I found myself empathizing with Claire and her group members. (less)
This year, I put Rikers High on our summer reading list at the recommendation of one of our school librarians. After finishing the book myself, I'm gl...moreThis year, I put Rikers High on our summer reading list at the recommendation of one of our school librarians. After finishing the book myself, I'm glad I took her advice. Volponi's protagonist (Martin, who is called "Forty" because that's the bed number he is assigned) is a likeable kid who has made mistakes and grapples with his place in Rikers Island's Sprung #3 and in the larger world. It's easy to read and interesting story will appeal to the reluctant readers, who may see a reflection of their own search for identity in Forty's internal struggles. (less)
I was not sure that Maberry could follow up his first novel with one as good or better. But, I could not put down this book. Maberry's characters atta...moreI was not sure that Maberry could follow up his first novel with one as good or better. But, I could not put down this book. Maberry's characters attained more depth and complexity once he was able to dispense with the required world building already accomplished in the first book. He was able to tie up many loose threads not just through providing more background, but through the trials and tribulations of Benny, Tom, Nix, Chong, and Lilah. I cannot wait for the next installment to find out how the quest concludes.(less)
Alina Klein's Rape Girl reminds me of works by Patricia McCormick, Cheryl Rainfield, Ellen Hopkins, and Laurie Halse Anderson. Like these other author...moreAlina Klein's Rape Girl reminds me of works by Patricia McCormick, Cheryl Rainfield, Ellen Hopkins, and Laurie Halse Anderson. Like these other authors, Klein doesn't pull punches or shy away from the trauma her protagonist suffers as a result of rape.
The novel immediately begins to deal with Valerie's emotional state by opening with a police interview 4 days after she is raped. Klein then alternates to scenes before and after the rape to let Valerie's story unfold before finally settling into exploring the emotional and social aftermath about 1/2 way through the book. However, these jumps in time heighten the tension and truly demonstrate how much her decision to report the rape and help prosecute Adam, a popular kid at school, has on her support system and her psyche. The way Klein describes the reactions of Valerie's friends and even strangers at her high school made me furious on Valerie's behalf; Klein captures the half-heard whispers and overt and subtle ostricization in heart-breaking detail. As someone who has worked with survivors as a crisis hotline advocate, a hospital companion, and a support group facilitator, I found Klein's descriptions of Valerie's reactions and the behaviors of those around Valerie rang true.
Rape Girl would be an excellent companion to Chris Lynch's Inexcusable, which explores teen date rape from the perspective of a rapist. Klein's novel could easily be Gigi Boudakian's story as well. Like Lynch's book, Klein's narrative drew me in and kept me turning the pages as Valerie struggled to understand what happened, determine whether she should even call what happened "rape," and find a way to piece her life together.
Certainly Rape Girl isn't a book for every reader. But Alina Klein's debut novel is the kind of voice, the kind of dark book Cheryl Rainfield so eloquently defended in a recent YouTube video (I couldn't say it better than Rainfield does, so I won't even try).(less)