Anna’s best friend, Frankie, wants the two of them to meet twenty boys during their three week vacation in California. This should guarantee a summer Anna’s best friend, Frankie, wants the two of them to meet twenty boys during their three week vacation in California. This should guarantee a summer fling for the two girls. Anna hasn’t told Frankie that she’s already experienced a summer flame– with Frankie’s older brother, Matt. But was it just a fling or maybe something more? Anna will never know because Matt died tragically and unexpectedly one year ago. She hasn’t been able to forget Matt, so how can she possibly move on to someone new?
Twenty Boy Summer is on Sarah Dessen’s recommended reading list, so it didn’t take more than that to persuade me to read it. First of all, we need to talk about Anna. She loved Matt for a while before the moment he took it to the next level. What they experienced, however briefly, is what so many people dream of. They’ve been friends forever, so they already knew each other well. She didn’t tell Frankie because Matt wanted to keep it a secret until he felt secure in telling his sister, but that opportunity never came. Anna keeps that secret, and her overwhelming grief, to herself for a year. She focuses on helping Frankie deal with the loss of Matt, even if Frankie is reluctant to. That’s why she goes along with the idea of the twenty boy summer. A couple of the reasons I like Anna so much is because she’s an optomist even when her life is falling apart. Also, she doesn’t feel like she has anyone to confide in, so the healthiest way for Anna to deal with everything is by writing in her journal. I’m glad Ockler wrote this into the story because more teens need to realize how relieving it can be to keep a journal.
I really like that Sarah Ockler has Anna stay true to herself. Frankie has dealt with Matt’s death by acting out. She’s become boy crazy, has started smoking, etc. Anna is more introverted, very smart and just a tad insecure, but the way Ockler developed Anna, a reader would never think those are negative qualities. At one point in the story, Frankie is flirting with a couple guys and Anna feels awkward around them because she isn’t done up like Frankie. But she has her redeeming moment when one of the boys comments on how pretty Anna looks naturally.
I definitely think teenage girls should read Twenty Boy Summer. It’s a fun summer read, teaches an excellent lesson, has strong characters and uses rich vocabulary and imagery. ...more
I read Freefall for The Contemps Challenge, but my primary reason was because it deals with a male protagonist struggling in life. Seth is trying to cI read Freefall for The Contemps Challenge, but my primary reason was because it deals with a male protagonist struggling in life. Seth is trying to cope with the loss of his best friend Issac, but this story is about more than dealing with loss. Playing in the band isn’t the same for Seth now that Issac isn’t there playing beside him. Trying to get caught up in school is a bigger hindrance than it was before. And to top everything else, the people in Seth’s life appear to be moving on faster than he can. This is a story about coping and discovering who you are.
As one of my students was reading this book he said “Seth seems more real than most characters in other books.” Seth is witty, sarcastic, sometimes awkward, and a tad insecure. His love interest is the beautiful, slightly mysterious Rosetta. Seth thinks she’s out of his league, so whenever he speaks with her- drunk at a party and trying to be suave, or forced to in class- it never goes as smoothly as he pictures it in his head. Isn’t that how it goes for most people? We can visualize a perfect conversation with someone we’re interested in, but when the moment presents itself we find ourselves mumbling and fumbling like morons. This aspect of Seth’s character makes him more human for readers. His witty side often shows itself when he speaking with Daniel. Daniel is an example of the “former Seth”, who partied and didn’t care about school. Daniel also reminds Seth of Issac, and this worries him because he doesn’t want Daniel partying himself to death like Issac did. But Daniel is still Seth’s friend and he doesn’t want to lose him, he just doesn’t want to be like Daniel anymore.
Losing Issac has almost forced Seth into making new friends. Many of these friends come from his Interpersonal Communications (IC) class. The class is designed to teach students how to effectively communicate and empathize with others. Is there anything stated there that Seth doesn’t need? I don’t think so. Seth isn’t communicating with anyone about his grief for Issac. He need someone to empathize with him, and he also needs to learn to empathize with others. This class has opened up his more vulnerable, guarded side to those in class with him. When everyone is in the same situation, you’re bound to make some close friends. Seth is able to build a closer relationship with Kendall, Issac’s former girlfriend, and he’s able to make a new friend in Xander who helps teach Seth about confidence and self-assurance.
This isn’t a book full of action, but it’s a book full of self-discovery and real situations. I know girls will enjoy Freefall because my book club is all girls and we read this together. They couldn’t stop talking about it! I know guys will read this because they’ve told me they enjoyed similar books because they coud relate to the character’s problems. Even if a guy can’t relate to losing his best friend, he can relate to tough situations with friends and wanting a potential relationship to work out. Mindi Scott has a very real novel that teens will pick up and enjoy from beginning to end.
Raw. Powerful. Brilliant. Those are the best words I can think of to describe Fall for Anything. I read this book for the Contemps Challenge, and I’mRaw. Powerful. Brilliant. Those are the best words I can think of to describe Fall for Anything. I read this book for the Contemps Challenge, and I’m now embarrassed to say that this is the first book I’ve read by Courtney Summers. She has two other books– Cracked Up to Be and Some Girls Are. I can’t believe I’ve been missing out! Reading Fall for Anything was intense and emotional, but I couldn’t turn away. I’m so impressed with her writing, I went out and bought her other two novels the day after I finished Fall for Anything. Trust me, if you haven’t read any of her books, you really need to change that.
Eddie’s story is absolutely tragic. Her father committed suicide without leaving much of a note or a reason. Her mother is practically catatonic, and her mother’s annoying friend Beth is staying with them. It’s horrible that Eddie is now fatherless, but what troubled me the most was that Eddie can’t turn to her mom. Her mother is incredibly fragile, so Eddie fears discussing anything related to her father. Beth is there trying to piece Eddie’s mom back together, but neither are there for Eddie. She is a teenage girl; someone needs to be there for her! How is she possibly supposed to deal with her father’s death if she can’t talk to her mom and doesn’t really feel comfortable opening up to anyone else? I will admit that I enjoyed Eddie’s reactions and responses to Beth. Most of the time Beth drove me nuts, so I laughed whenever Eddie would come back at her with an under-handed comment.
I fell for Eddie as soon as I started reading. She reminds me so much of a couple of my students, that I couldn’t help but connect with her. She’s frustrated and sad and angry and confused. She wants to connect more with her best friend Milo, but she’s lost the ability to do so. She’s told that she’s not positive enough to be around her mother, so she should leave. Eddie is alone. But she cares and loves and wants to feel. She needs support and needs to allow someone to support her. Even though Eddie struggles and falters throughout the story, you can’t help but hold out hope. It almost felt like I was her support. I knew somehow she’d make it through. I wanted to be there for her to vent. Again, she made me think of my students and that is what I’d be doing for them. Courtney Summers really knows how to reach her readers.
Honestly, there is so much I can say about Fall for Anything, but I already feel like I’m gushing too much. I’ve been searching for a “just right” contemps novel and this was it for me. Courtney’s writing is absolutely gripping; every word and sentence is written for maximum effect. Go buy this book....more
First of all, I will openly admit that I feel like a bad blogger since I waited so long to read Saving June. I feelReview originally posted at YA Love
First of all, I will openly admit that I feel like a bad blogger since I waited so long to read Saving June. I feel even worse about it because a few of my girls in class absolutely loved it and I couldn’t share with them my own feelings about Hannah Harrington’s debut. But I finally read it (and really liked it) so that has to count for something, right? One of the reasons I did end up finally reading it (besides really wanting to all this time) is that Harrington has a new book coming out tomorrow called Speechless which I’m excited to read.
Harper Scott’s character and voice grabbed me as soon as I started reading Saving June and never let me go. She’s obviously sad and torn up over June’s death, but she isn’t wearing her heart on her sleeve about it. She’s snarky and quick and tired of feeling bad about who she is in comparison to June. She’s tired of feeling like she is constantly letting her mom and her aunt down. Harper wants to cry over June’s death, but the tears simply won’t come. As a reader I could see and feel her grief through her words and actions. I really felt for Harper because she feels so alone, especially in the beginning of the story, since her mom is disconnected and her dad is for the most part out of the picture. The family dynamics in Harper’s life make her friendship with Laney and ultimately Jake so much stronger.
The plot is an obvious focal point since Saving June is a road trip book, but it’s also very character driven since these characters are on this trip because of grief and honor. Harper discovers that June wanted to go to California so on a whim she decides this is what she needs to do to honor her sister. Laney is vibrant and adventurous, so with very little coaxing she’s on board with Harper. I like Laney because she brightens up Harper. Harper adores Laney and values their friendship so she often tries to make Laney happy. This gave us another layer to Harper’s character; we get to see a glimpse of who she was before June’s death and what her personality is really like. Jake’s connection in the story is a mystery at first because Harper can’t figure out his real motives for helping them get across the country and how he really knew June. This unknown makes Jake’s character more interesting to read because the connection he has with Harper is there, but neither Harper nor the reader know if it’s okay for those two to get together. I was constantly wondering if Harper was reading him right and if she should let herself fall for him. Did he date June? Did he want to date June but never had the chance? I really like Jake’s character and wanted it to work out between him and Harper.
A number of reviewers have commented on the music references in Saving June. I enjoyed them, but I could honestly take or leave them. Jake is obsesses with music and spends a large bulk of the story schooling Laney and Harper on different artists like Jimmy Hendrix, The Doors, Janis Joplin, etc. The musical connection does open up Harper’s emotions and feelings about June, and it also gives us a little insight to June; I liked the music references for those two reasons. Some of my students now may not like it because so much of the music is “old” and unless they’ve been exposed to it they probably won’t appreciate it. However, reading this book and learning about the music and the artists might drive their curiosity enough to look up some of the songs.
Overall I really enjoyed Hannah Harrington’s debut. It’s a strong debut and good enough that I’m looking forward to her sophomore release, Speechless (8/28/12). The story slowed down a bit for me a couple times, but I think that’s mostly because I grew tired of the grief. I don’t think it’s over done in Saving June, but prior to reading this I’ve read a number of books dealing with grief and I think I’m spent for a while....more
I need a moment to gush- I couldn’t get enough of this extraordinary novel!! Of course I want you to read my review, but seriously, just go buy this bI need a moment to gush- I couldn’t get enough of this extraordinary novel!! Of course I want you to read my review, but seriously, just go buy this book. I’ll wait for you to get back, I promise. The Sky is Everywhere is a drop what you’re reading right now and start reading this instead kind of book.
To start, I need to bring up Jandy Nelson’s writing style. Her bio on the back flap says she has a degree in poetry and it’s evident in her writing. The story is beautifully lyrical and easy to read. I especially enjoyed the poetry included that’s written by Lennie. It’s creative and honest; it’s a great representation of what a talented teenager might write. Imagery is always important in novels and the imagery Nelson creates is spectacular. “The flower is blooming again in my chest, this time three seconds from bud to showstopper.” Is it possible to read this line and not visualize a girl falling in love?
Considering my love of great characters, I must mention Lennie. She is deep, conflicted, and talented. Lennie is a talented poet and clarinetess, both of which give her an emotional outlet to deal with Bailey’s death. Lennie’ poetry is personal and therapeutic, but she writes them on anything she can and leaves them for people to discover. Even though Emily Dickinson kept her poems hidden and private, Lennie’s poetry reminded me of Dickinson’s poems. Both wrote poems in response to their observations of the world around them. Lennie’s poetry is written in response to how she’s feeling now about her trials in love and her feelings about Bailey’s death. It’s also written reflecting on her different interactions and conversations with Bailey.
The Sky is Everywhere will speak to teens in multiple ways. Not all teenage girls will relate to a love triangle like Lennie’s, but many will relate to feeling like the second fiddle to a sibling or friend. One of the biggest conflicts of the story is about Lennie climbing out from under Bailey’s shadow. Bailey didn’t try to make Lennie feel sub-par, but Lennie still felt that way only she didn’t truly realize it until after Bailey’s death. Now Lennie is left to wonder if she’s better than second chair clarinet and good/beautiful enough for a spectacular boy like Joe. Lennie is a richly layered character that readers will easily respond to.
Overall, I without a doubt give The Sky is Everywhere five stars. Jandy Nelson has proven herself as an enormously talented new author. I eagerly await for her next novel!
Is there anything I didn’t like about Losing Faith? Absolutely not! I LOVED this novel! The characters are wonderfully developed and the story is richIs there anything I didn’t like about Losing Faith? Absolutely not! I LOVED this novel! The characters are wonderfully developed and the story is richly layered.
This story is about losing a sibling, but the story has so much going for it that readers will be able to read this and relate whether they’ve experienced a loss or not. The main character, Brie, is an honest character that many will relate to easily. The story focuses on how she deals with Faith’s death, and finding answers, but it also highlights her relationships with her parents, friends and teachers. Brie’s friends and boyfriend don’t know how to act around her anymore, so she’s stuck trying to act normal in an anything but normal situation. How does someone go back to being breezy with her best friend? Or go right back to making plans to go farther with her boyfriend? It’s easy to understand how she feels.
The story itself is completely addicting. I started reading and the next thing I knew, I was almost 150 pages into the book! There are plenty of unanswered questions about Faith’s death, and no one, not even Brie’s parents, will talk about it. Brie’s search for answers, and the perfect pacing of answers uncovered, is why Losing Faith is so “unputdownable.” Jaden didn’t give us new answers and more questions regarding Faith’s death too fast or too slow; the timing was absolutely perfect.
If you like Speak or Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson or Hold Still by Nina LaCour, you won’t go wrong by reading Losing Faith. I can’t say enough positive things about this book; get your hands on a copy soon! :D ...more
Over the summer I won a two-chapter preview of this through Holly’s blog. I read the preview as soon as I received it and desperately wanted to finishOver the summer I won a two-chapter preview of this through Holly’s blog. I read the preview as soon as I received it and desperately wanted to finish it after the second chapter. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a copy at any of the book stores nearby, and I’ve been looking since this summer! I don’t know why, but I don’t really care for ordering books online, so I’ve been holding out for as long as possible. I can’t describe my excitement when I found out that I won a signed copy through A Good Addiction!
Now that I’ve finished Tell Me a Secret I’m really kicking myself for waiting so long to read this! The first two chapters hooked me enough to want to keep reading. The remaining chapters only got better. If you like a book with layers of story and strong characters, then get yourself a copy of Tell Me a Secret pronto!
Holly Cupula is a genious in how she chooses to reveal important details and pieces of the plot. Pieces of Rand (Miranda’s nickname) and her mother’s complicated relationship come to light, just as we learn more about Xanda’s secrets before she died. Rand goes through trying times with her pregnancy as we find out more about an important night shortly after school got out. These scenes are written in such a way that it’s impossible to stop reading. On the back cover of the book, a blurb from Deb Caletti says “I dare you to set it down during its last hundred pages. I dare you.” That’s a dare I certainly lost!
The character development is extraordinary! Rand’s best friend–well, so-called best friend, Delaney absolutely made my blood boil. I swear I’m not a violent person, but there were times that I wanted to cause her physical harm. **This may be spoilery** The way she treats Miranda is atrocious! It’s bad enough that Miranda is pregnant and feeling lost without her sister, but for her friend to turn on her and leave her behind is just rotten. It really takes a talented author to make me react to a character this way. I had strong feelings about Miranda’s mother as well. She’s incredibly cold towards Rand about the pregnancy. I’m sure any mother would be upset and disappointed about their teenage daughter getting pregnant (I know my mom would have been!), but I’d certainly hope that a mom would be more supportive of her daughter. It’s understood that Miranda’s mother is very religious and worried about appearances, which effects her attitude. Girls who are faced with a situation like Rand’s, or just girls who have difficult relationships with their mothers will be able to relate to this relationship. Hopefully they’ll learn from it also.
It’s hard to say more without being overly spoilery. Plus, I’m finding it difficult to put into words how fantastic this book is. As the story of Xanda unraveled, Miranda’s story became more complex. The characters stayed with me a while after I finished reading it. Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to the juicy secrets in Holly’s fabulous debut Tell Me a Secret. I can’t wait to read more from this insanely talented author!
A.S. King is such a talented author! I ended up loving this on audio and the narrator really fits Vera. The characterization is fantastic. I started tA.S. King is such a talented author! I ended up loving this on audio and the narrator really fits Vera. The characterization is fantastic. I started tearing up at the end of the audio. So good. Sorry for the choppiness and gushing, but I just loved this book!...more
I can understand why so many people love Revolution, but I'm not impressed. Maybe it was the audio, but I really think it's the story. It went far tooI can understand why so many people love Revolution, but I'm not impressed. Maybe it was the audio, but I really think it's the story. It went far too long without connecting the plot and when it finally did it was overly dramatic. I invested a lot of time listening to this audiobook. A lot of time I won't get back... Sigh. The catch? I kept listening because I wanted to know how it was all going to end. It's too bad I wasn't impressed....more
I don't know how I'll be able to review this novel. So powerful and beautiful. I'm still crying.
My Flash Review:
A Monster Calls took my breath away. TI don't know how I'll be able to review this novel. So powerful and beautiful. I'm still crying.
My Flash Review:
A Monster Calls took my breath away. The writing, the story, and the illustrations are stunning. Conor is dealing with his mother’s illness and has been suffering from nightmares. One night after the recurring nightmare, the monster shows up and wants Conor to give him the truth. The monster helps Conor understand what truth he’s looking for through stories. These stories are intended for Conor to come to a realization and give the monster what it’s looking for, even if Conor doesn’t understand this at the beginning. I was completely engrossed in this novel. My dad is a cancer survivor, so I was able to empathize with Conor. My personal connection may be why I adore this novel so much, but I can’t imagine someone not being moved by A Monster Calls. When I finished this novel I was speechless and bawled like a baby....more
Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams is gripping and intense. On the very first page Hope walks in on her sister LizziReview originally posted at Y.A. Love
Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams is gripping and intense. On the very first page Hope walks in on her sister Lizzie holding a shotgun, her finger on the trigger. Not since reading Burned and Identical, both by Ellen Hopkins, have I read a verse novel so raw with emotion and suspense.
Maybe it’s because I don’t have a sister, but I love reading stories about sisters and their relationships. Hope and Lizzie are as close as sisters can be, so it’s an absolute shock when Hope walks in and finds Lizzie this way. Carol Lynch Williams has done a fantastic job portraying the bond between these two sisters. Hope is slow to realize why her sister wants to kill herself, and part of that reason is because Lizzie has been committed to protecting and sheltering her sister. What I like about Glimpse and the dynamics between Hope and Lizzie is that we see first hand how concerned, conflicted, and confused Hope is about her sister. Hope doesn’t understand what’s going on between Lizzie and her mother, but she knows it’s making her jealous. While feeling jealous, however, Hope gets the feeling that Lizzie is hiding something important from their mother, so she tries her best to protect Lizzie and her secrets. Their relationship rides a fine line, but it leans mostly to the side of caring and protecting rather than jealous and malicious.
I’ve become critical of verse novels, and while some of the free verse felt choppy, the writing as a whole worked for me. Some of the choppy lines came from sections where Hope repeats random sentences or words. I’m sure it’s for effect and drama, but those few lines were more distracting than anything else. The majority of the verse, however, is lyrical and smooth. I say this often in my reviews of verse novels, but I’m so impressed when an author is able to convey strong emotions and paint vivid scenes and characters with so few words. Carol Lynch Williams does an excellent job doing both.
Carol Lynch Williams tackles some mature issues in Glimpse, but she does with subtlety and grace. As I began figuring out what was happening I grew nervous because I was wondering how it was going to be handled later in the story. The revelation is clear, but it’s not overdone or graphic. It’s enough to gain understanding and break your heart at the same time. Glimpse is a powerful book and one not to miss....more
Plain and simple, Boy21 is a GREAT book. I was on the search for a quality read aloud for my freshmen English classes, so I picked up Boy21 on a whim. I wanted to read it anyway, but I kept thinking about my 3rd hour freshmen class that’s primarily boys who don’t enjoy reading. Boy21 seemed like the perfect fit for them, so I went with my hunch and started reading it. As soon as I read the first couple chapters I knew I made the right decision.
Finley’s voice really stands out on the page, which is ironic considering he doesn’t like to talk much. He actually reminds me a little bit of Lucky Linderman from Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King. Both Lucky and Finley have a sort of innocence about them. They both have trouble speaking up for themselves, and they also want what’s best for those around them. Just like Lucky, Finley is an admirable character.
One of the reasons I like Finley is because he’s so loyal to his friends, coach, and family. When his coach approaches him about helping Boy21 (Russ), Finley doesn’t hesitate to offer his help. He trusts his coach, so even though he worries that Russ could take his starting position on the basketball team, he still tries to make friends with Russ. Russ has an obsession with space and refers to himself as Boy21, but he and Finley pair up well. They’re both amazing basketball players, even though Russ doesn’t show this right away, and they both deal with unfair treatment. They’re both treated poorly for different reasons, much of which is based on race and rivalry, but it still serves as a bond. After a startling and tragic turn of events, Finley really grows as a character. His loyalties are tested and he begins to doubt what’s truly important in his life. He begins to question his life, where it’s going–if anywhere–and what really happened years ago that caused him to be such a quiet, good kid. I love being able to witness this kind of characterization, which is one of the biggest reasons I enjoyed Matthew Quick’s novel so much.
Boy21 by Matthew Quick is a novel that appeals to a variety of readers. My basketball players and sports fiction fans will enjoy the basketball scenes and references in Boy21. My fans of great contemporary realistic fiction will recognize what a superb example this is of that genre. Readers will connect with Finley, Erin, and Russ. They’ll feel the tension and suspense, they’ll laugh out loud, and they might even cry (I did)....more
**I reviewed this on my blog in NOVEMBER and apparently I forgot to post it here as well. Sorry!**
Prepare for gushing because this novel is beautiful**I reviewed this on my blog in NOVEMBER and apparently I forgot to post it here as well. Sorry!**
Prepare for gushing because this novel is beautiful and amazing. I’ve been a fan of Sara Zarr since a family friend gave me a copy of Story of a Girl as a college graduation present. Story of a Girl has remained my favorite up until now. How to Save a Life is such a strong novel and very different from Zarr’s other novels.
All of Zarr’s novels are strong in story and characters, but there’s a different feel to How to Save a Life. I finished reading it thinking, “Wow. This is her stand out, best book yet.” The two point of views are seamless, dynamic and natural. I could picture Jill and Mandy perfectly, but I could also picture her mom, Dylan and Ravi with ease as well. I finished this yesterday and I’m still thinking about Jill and Mandy; I connected with them on such an emotional level. Mandy is naive and often socially awkward; I often felt awkward for her, especially at the beginning. She is also understanding, compassionate, and true. Jill is grief-stricken and sometimes harsh, but she wants to open up and be a new, friendlier Jill. I couldn’t help but fall for these girls. So often I was willing them to communicate with one another and with the people around them. Watching them develop a friendship and begin to trust others was one of the best parts of the novel. Sara Zarr really did a fantastic job writing these characters.
The story itself is beautifully layered and more than just a story about a girl giving her baby up for adoption. This is a story about the many ways of dealing with grief. Jill has isolated herself. Her friends aren’t easy to get back, her relationship with her boyfriend is strained, and she doesn’t know how to connect with her mother. The relationship between Jill and her mother, Robin, is believable. Sometimes these relationships are exaggerated in novels, but I never felt like either of their interactions or reactions were over the top or unbelievable. And this is a side note, but even though I’ve never met Sara Zarr, I kept picturing her as I read Robin. Maybe that’s weird, but I did. Mandy is of course battling the conflicting emotions involved with giving up her baby. This conflict is made deeper because of her own need for a mother. Mandy’s mother is absent, cold and simply not what a mother should be. She’s still connected to her and often recites her advice, but her need for someone like Robin is obvious. Mandy broke my heart more than once. I love a book like How to Save a Life because I can offer it to more students considering the rich layers. I can hand this to a student looking for a book about teen pregnancy, grief, strained relationships with mothers, losing a parent, finding ways to trust again, and I could go on.
Sara Zarr has written a phenomenal book. I absolutely loved it, and of course that means I’m struggling to write the review. I hope I’ve found the right words to express the awesome that is this novel. How to Save a Life is an emotional novel that will warm your heart....more
Have you ever started reading a book and knew right away that you were going to love every single page? That’s hoReview originally posted at Y.A. Love
Have you ever started reading a book and knew right away that you were going to love every single page? That’s how I felt when I started reading In Honor by Jessi Kirby. I can’t explain what about a book wins me over when I have this experience, but I’m happy about it nonetheless. I felt similarly when I read Jessi Kirby’s debut Moonglass as well. Her writing draws me in and doesn’t let go until I’ve finished her book.
I love that In Honor starts with Honor describing taps being played and the 21-gun salute. If you’ve been to a funeral when taps has been played and the salute is given, then it’s easy to relive it while reading someone’s experience. It’s an emotional experience which becomes an emotional reading experience. I don’t have an immediate family member serving, but I have former students serving, I have cousins serving, I’ve had friends serving. I may not know what it feels like to lose a brother in the war, but I can certainly empathize with Honor and Rusty as they navigate through their grief. In Honor is an emotional read, but it’s balanced with love, hope, and humor that many readers will appreciate.
The road trip setting gives In Honor a lighter mood despite the circumstances which I really appreciated because it made the emotional scenes even more powerful. Road trip books are entertaining because characters are forced to interact with one another, given the close quarters, which provides more character development and insight. Honor pretty much wears her heart on her sleeve, but Rusty is harder to read. Honor and Rusty don’t get along very well and the tension is palpable, but there’s something just beneath the surface that lets the reader know that there’s more to Rusty than meets the eye. Besides the fact that I had a character crush on him, I really enjoyed watching his character grow and discovering his secrets as their journey to California progressed. He and Honor are learning more about each other, but they’re also learning about themselves through this entire ordeal.
I don’t know if this makes sense, but reading In Honor made me wish I could either live in Texas or at least visit Texas. I love living in Michigan, so maybe I just wish I could have gone to Texas years ago and met a cute guy like Rusty? I don’t know, but the whole southern atmosphere described was alluring. I have been to Sedona (a pit stop Honor and Rusty have to make), so I know how beautiful it is and really want to make a return visit. More than anything, I think this awkward paragraph just goes to show how well Jessi Kirby created the atmosphere and setting of In Honor. So many elements of this book won me over and made me feel like I was there with Honor and Rusty.
If you take anything from this review, know this: In Honor is a book that will resonate with readers. The characters are dynamic and true and ones you’ll wish you could meet in real life. Jessi Kirby wrote a wonderful debut, but her sophomore novel, In Honor, is even better. Without a doubt, In Honor will be extremely popular in my classroom and I really hope you read it....more
I was immediately taken in by Annaleah’s story and her feelings for Brian and his death. This story is a little different because Annaleah is grievingI was immediately taken in by Annaleah’s story and her feelings for Brian and his death. This story is a little different because Annaleah is grieving for Brian, but she’s grieving alone since no one knew about their relationship. I can’t imagine being in her situation. Not only is she trying to understand his death, but she has all kinds of questions about their relationship, if she can even call it that. We follow Annaleah into a pretty deep depression, and even though this makes me feel cold to say this, it really irritated me. She isolated herself while she was with Brian, but she’s not really alone; she has friends and family reaching out to her. This is something that Annaleah grapples with herself, but that point in the book really dragged for me. I thought about putting it down, but I didn’t and ended up being happy that I stuck with her. The verse isn’t as impressive as Lisa Schroeder’s or Kimberly Marcus’s, but it’s still enjoyable and easy to read. ...more
What She Left Behind is a great mystery that I’m sure will hook some of my reluctant readers. It has fairly sFlash Review originally posted at YA Love
What She Left Behind is a great mystery that I’m sure will hook some of my reluctant readers. It has fairly short chapters which keep the story paced well and will appeal to many of my students. So many of them won’t stop reading until they read the end of the chapter, so I’ll sometimes spot them flipping through a book before they read it to see how long the chapters are.
The beginning of Tracy Bilen’s debut is gripping as Sara remembers threats her father made towards her mother; it’s obvious right away that this is a violent home. I was tense through the beginning and Sara and her mother plan their escape and when Sara suddenly finds herself without her mother. The fact that Sara’s dad won’t recognize her brother’s death is even worse and adds more tension to the story.
My one issue with this story is that I needed a little more action or build up in the middle of the book. The beginning caught my attention right away and the ending is even more intense, but the middle dragged a bit. I’m not sure what would make it better, to be honest. Maybe the relationship between Sara and Alex could be stronger. Even though the middle was a bit slow for me, I think my students will really like this.
Since I know many of the people reading my blog are teachers and librarians, you’ll be happy to know that What She Left Behind is in paperback. I know I always appreciate being able to buy a new release in paperback; my bank account appreciates it, too :) ...more
What a fantastic book and audiobook! I loved this even though there were plenty of times that Brie upset me. The characters are well-developed and layWhat a fantastic book and audiobook! I loved this even though there were plenty of times that Brie upset me. The characters are well-developed and layered. I loved the narrator and am looking forward to listening to more books narrated by her....more
I don't know how many stars to give Where Things Come Back because I don't know how I feel about it completely. More than anything, I really didn't liI don't know how many stars to give Where Things Come Back because I don't know how I feel about it completely. More than anything, I really didn't like it. But then part of me thinks maybe I'm not giving it enough thought. I see how the two parts are tied together, but there are so many other things happening that simply muddle the story. And I'm not a big fan of the writing. It really bothered me when Cullen would say "Imagine one blah, blah, blah" and then we'd get some weird fantasy/daydream of his. So maybe I really didn't like it and there isn't any confusion. I don't know, but I'm not giving it any stars.
Did anyone else feel like this? I never would have chosen it as a Printz contender, let alone winner....more