Sara Zarr’s debut novel Story of a Girl was a homerun with me. It’s definitely “unputdownable.” I enjoyed reading Once Was Lost, but it didn’t have th...moreSara Zarr’s debut novel Story of a Girl was a homerun with me. It’s definitely “unputdownable.” I enjoyed reading Once Was Lost, but it didn’t have that same “Wow!” factor. Zarr took her time developing Sam’s story and character before she threw in the twist involving the girl gone missing. I understand her reasoning, but it hindered my immediate enjoyment of the novel.
I’m still impressed, however, in Zarr’s ability to strongly develop a character. Even though I’m not a pastor’s kid, Zarr wrote Sam’s character in such a way that the reader can still relate with how she feels. Her life has been turned upside down, but Sam doesn’t feel like she can talk about any of it without being judged or misunderstood. Her dad won’t tell the congregation about her mom, and he won’t even talk about it with Sam. Who can Sam possibly talk to about doubting her faith when an outsider would expect her to be secure in her faith? Sam has these questions and fears running through her mind constantly as the book progresses, and any person who has felt lost or confused should be able to relate to this.
Overall, even though I haven’t been rating anything, I’d give Once Was Lost 3.5 stars. (less)
Jay Asher Th1rteen R3asons Why 288 pp. Penguin Young Readers Group 2007 ISBN 978-1-59514-171-2 $16.99 (High School)
“I hope you’re ready, because I’m...moreJay Asher Th1rteen R3asons Why 288 pp. Penguin Young Readers Group 2007 ISBN 978-1-59514-171-2 $16.99 (High School)
“I hope you’re ready, because I’m about to tell you the story of my life. More specifically, why my life ended. And if you’re listening to these tapes, you’re one of the reasons why.” Clay Jensen’s life is about to change forever. He returns home from school to find a package addressed to him, but it has no return address. Upon opening this package, Clay finds several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker. Normally, he’d be excited about receiving anything having to do with high school crush Hannah, but not this time; Hannah recently committed suicide. Hannah has recorded her thirteen reasons for committing suicide, and each person that played a role in her choice will receive the tapes. Clay can’t imagine how he influenced her decision, so with great difficulty, he decides to listen. Asher’s debut novel is unlike any other teen suicide novel I’ve read. The novel is split between the voice of Hannah, written in italics, and the thoughts and conversations of Clay and other characters throughout the novel. Clay takes most of one night to listen to Hannah’s tapes, and the reader goes along with him experiencing his feelings of grief, anger, remorse and even enlightenment. This is a novel that should be read by and discussed with students, parents, teachers, counselors, etc. S.A. (less)
Sonya Sones gives her characters such a true, great voice. I really liked What My Mother Doesn’t Know, but this one was much better. Robin is awkward, so funny, and such a teenage boy! I was seriously giggling the entire time I read this book. Well, maybe not during the “we’re fighting and mad at each other scenes.” Sones really knows how to make her characters come alive, which always impresses me to no end in verse writing. You might be able to read this one without having read What My Mother Doesn’t Know, but you’ll miss the full spectrum of Robin and Sophie’s relationship. These two books are definitely worth reading. (less)
I can safely say this is one of the best books I’ve read this summer. I adore both John Green and David Levithan, and together, they are a dynamic duo...moreI can safely say this is one of the best books I’ve read this summer. I adore both John Green and David Levithan, and together, they are a dynamic duo! Both authors are extremely skilled at creating characters that come alive on the page. I really felt like I knew both the Will Graysons and even Tiny. While reading I laughed out loud and even became a little teary. I even read my favorite parts out loud to my husband!
Of course, I love the characters. But surprisingly, I think I enjoyed the minor characters even more than the main characters. Both Will Graysons are great, but, for example, who can deny how wonderful and fantastic Tiny Cooper is?! He’s very large person with a very large personality. In fact, I wish there really was a Tiny Cooper because I’d want to be his friend. I know deep down he’s insecure about his appearance and being gay, but he doesn’t let that show. He oozes confidence whether it’s real or not. He’s also a loyal friend to both Will Graysons no matter what happens between them. Plus, Tiny Cooper created his very own high school musical! He really steals the spotlight, pun intended.
The story is told from both Will Graysons, switching perspectives each chapter. As I mentioned, Tiny Cooper is gay and so is one of the Will Graysons. The really nice thing about Will Grayson, Will Grayson is the overwhelming success it’s had. It’s about time that a young adult novel featuring a gay character has been an overwhelming best-seller. Even better, is that both Will Graysons, despite their sexual orientation, are dealing with similar issues (and of course they are!). They both feel isolated, misunderstood, are afraid to love, etc. This is a novel that all teenagers should read, and because of how amazing it is, many teenagers will.
I can’t wait to rave about this once school starts. Really, the title should be Will Grayson, Will Grayson (Amazing, Amazing) (less)
Gail Giles Right Behind You 282 pp. Little, Brown and Company 2007 ISBN 978-0-316-16637-9 $7.99 (High School)
Kip McFarland was only nine when he set...moreGail Giles Right Behind You 282 pp. Little, Brown and Company 2007 ISBN 978-0-316-16637-9 $7.99 (High School)
Kip McFarland was only nine when he set his neighbor on fire and killed him. He didn’t know what he was doing in that moment of passion, but he suffered the consequences in a juvenile ward. Since being released, Kip’s dad has moved them into a different state with different names; a fresh start. Little does Kip realize that he can’t move forward when he hasn’t forgiven himself. Gail Giles grabs us with her very first sentence: “On the afternoon of his seventh birthday, I set Bobby Clarke on fire.” Her amazing ability to create and tell an edgy story keeps us reading until the final word. Giles’ story of self-forgiveness and starting fresh has been especially popular with my freshmen boys. For a few of them, this is the first book they’ve read from cover to cover; one even admitted to crying at the end. Valuable lessons can be learned by reading Right Behind You. S.A. (less)
Sherman Alexie The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian Illus. Ellen Forney 230 pp. Little, Brown and Company 2007 ISBN 978-0-316-01369-7 $8.99...moreSherman Alexie The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian Illus. Ellen Forney 230 pp. Little, Brown and Company 2007 ISBN 978-0-316-01369-7 $8.99 (High School)
Junior lives on the Spokane Indian reservation, but has big dreams of someday leaving the rez to attend an all-white school. If he leaves, Junior will face animosity from his people, but he will also advance his education. Junior ultimately makes his choice and begins the life of a part-time Indian. This National Book Award winner is an absolute must-read! While reading Sherman Alexie’s novel I laughed, cried and sympathized with Junior as he faced tragedy and excellence. Junior is depicted as a budding cartoonist and “his” cartoons, displayed in the novel, give an amazing visual of what he encounters throughout the story. This is a book that will appeal to a wide range of readers- those facing difficult decisions, problems with acceptance, and those wondering where they fit in the world. S.A. (less)