Rachele Alpine’s debut came to my attention when I joined the Great Lakes, Great Books Award committee and waFlash Review originally posted on YA Love
Rachele Alpine’s debut came to my attention when I joined the Great Lakes, Great Books Award committee and was looking for titles to read. I’m happy I read Canary and see it being enjoyed by many of my students, but it left me with mixed feelings. The summary tells us that Kate is assaulted at a party and needs to do something about it despite the consequences for her father, but that doesn’t take place until nearly the end of the book. I understand the placement of this in the story because we need to understand who Kate is before she goes to Beacon Prep and who she becomes once she makes new friends, but it fell flat. I was starting to get bored with Kate’s obsession over her brother’s actions and how she felt about her friends. Once the assault happened, I was ready for more of that part of the story but instead it was rushed. This is a fast read despite the length, but it needs a little more revision. I did, however, love Kate’s blog posts. This is where the verse is tied in and it really works. I plan on using some of her blog posts in my writing lessons....more
:/ This is a first for me because I usually LOVE Ellen's books. I just didn't feel connected to the characters in this one. I miss her books with one:/ This is a first for me because I usually LOVE Ellen's books. I just didn't feel connected to the characters in this one. I miss her books with one major character, like Kristina in Crank and Pattyn in Burned. Oh well. I know my students will love it....more
I'm angry with myself for forgetting to post this full review after I posted it here on my blog last summer.
I need to say this first: If you’re like mI'm angry with myself for forgetting to post this full review after I posted it here on my blog last summer.
I need to say this first: If you’re like me and you’ve had Split sitting in your TBR pile for a while now, or you’ve been meaning to buy it and haven’t, do yourself a favor and read it now. This book is powerful. I didn’t really follow the 2010 Cybils awards that closely because I didn’t know much about it (I’ve since corrected that!). I found out this summer that Split won the fiction award, which piqued my interest that much more. I really wish I would have read this sooner.
Swati Avasthi has written a really eye-opening novel. I think many of us have an idea of what an abusive household is like, but reading about it from Jace’s perspective is a completely different experience. The book begins with him driving from Chicago to his brother Christian’s place in New Mexico. Jace is really beat up and nervous about going to his brother’s because his brother left years ago. From the way Jace describes himself, it’s obvious that he suffered a major beating. Besides this, Christian’s question at the end of chapter one gives us a very clear picture of how abusive their father is: “Did he kill her?” I can’t imagine that being part of my conversation with my brother, but fortunately I didn’t grow up in a household like that. Through Jace’s eyes, we know how he feels and how he’s trying to cope with the violence. His relationship with Christian is strained, especially because Jace feels so different from him. Christian always has the appearance of being calm and composed when Jace is struggling with the urge for violent outbursts. Nothing about Jace, or this story, is simple, which is part of why I loved it so much.
Split is written so well that I experienced a variety of emotions while reading. Many times while Jace was recounting memories of his father beating Christian and/or his mother, I was completely horrified. And I wasn’t feeling this way just because of the details. I was horrified by how matter of fact Jace was when he remembered it. This way of living has made him numb and it broke my heart. When he was finally making some progress and getting his feet on the ground, I couldn’t help but cheer for him. Jace is haunted by a secret for most of the book, and even though I had a pretty good idea of what his secret was, when he finally opened up about it I was stunned/upset. But the roller coaster of emotions doesn’t stop there. Yes, I was shocked, but Avasthi has us learn this at a pivotal point in the novel. By this time, I’m so concerned about Jace, I can overlook that. I simply want him to heal and become the person he wants to be. Let me tell you, Swati Avasthi knows what she’s doing.
As a teacher, sometimes it’s obvious when a student is being abused and I know I need to take action. Unfortunately, some abusers know how to hide what they’re doing. I hope that by having this book in my classroom, I’ll be able to help those students open up and find the help they need. I also hope it will help those students who are suffering with becoming abusers themselves. This is an excellent novel that deserves more attention. I hope I was able to do it enough justice in my review, even though I’ve been struggling with how to accurately describe how wonderful it is....more
Don’t Breathe a Word starts off strong with an attention grabbing scene. Joy is in the process of staging her kidnapping because she needs to get awayDon’t Breathe a Word starts off strong with an attention grabbing scene. Joy is in the process of staging her kidnapping because she needs to get away in order to save her family, but we don’t know why she feels compelled to do this. We don’t know why she needs to save her family. This had me hooked and needing to read more.
Joy’s story is one that isn’t told very often in young adult literature. She’s in a relationship with Asher, which we discover isn’t a healthy one. Holly Cupula does an excellent job of slowly revealing the truth behind Joy’s scars and suffering. Most YA novels about abusive relationships deal with physical abuse, so I appreciate that Holly Cupula focuses more on emotional abuse because I know it’s unfortunately a common occurrence. Don’t Breathe a Word has the potential to help teens realize that emotional abuse exists, and like physical abuse, it shouldn’t be ignored.
As much as I enjoyed Don’t Breathe a Word, I’m also a little torn. Joy runs away from home to live on the streets of Seattle. While doing this, she meets a group of teen runaways that take her in. These characters are well-developed and believable. My issue is that I felt more connected to these characters than I did to Joy. Part of this is because Joy purposely keeps her past hidden because she doesn’t want any of the runaways to take her less seriously. I can appreciate this about Joy, but I would have felt more connected to her, which I very much wanted to experience, if she would have opened up sooner. It became distracting from the story because I found myself thinking more about these characters as opposed to Joy. I wasn’t as impressed with the ending, which makes me wonder if the reason for this is because I wasn’t as invested in Joy’s character.
Despite some misgivings I have with Holly Cupula’s second novel, I wanted to keep reading and enjoyed Don’t Breathe a Word. It’s a compelling story, but it’s compelling for reasons I didn’t expect upon reading it. The writing is superb, but I craved a stronger connection with Joy....more
This book has left me with conflicting emotions, and I mean that in the best way possible. It left me heartbroken, angry, empathetic, and more. Usually when I read a novel about an abusive relationship told from the girl’s perspective, I feel horrible for her and want to help her. I felt that way when I was reading Ann’s story, but I also felt all of those other emotions. Let me break it down…
Amanda Grace tells Ann’s story in reverse chronological order. We start the book a year into Ann’s relationship with Connor and something horrible has happened to Ann. From there, we start moving backwards sometimes by days and sometimes by weeks. We also move back to where we started, in the present, when Ann starts unraveling what just happened to her. Telling the story in this way made it easier for me, as a person who has never been in an abusive relationship, to see how difficult it is for Ann to leave Connor. There would be a day that seemed wonderful for the two of them, and then we’d move back a couple days and see a moment between them that’s absolutely frightening or unnerving. Their relationship is a roller coaster of emotions, and a dangerous one at that. Ann’s isolated and feels like she doesn’t have anyone to help her. As a reader, I felt so helpless. I wanted to reach out to her and be there for her.
We also get to know Connor a little better than we do in other books like But I Love Him. I’m usually despising and hating the abuser to the extreme. That wasn’t the case with Connor. At times I felt like Ann and wanted to help him and be there for him. He’s truly haunted and broken, and it breaks my heart to think that there may not be a chance for him. I can’t condone how he treats Ann, I want that understood, but Amanda Grace did an excellent job of truly fleshing out these two characters. Maybe it’s because I’m a teacher and I want the best for everyone, but I still felt sympathetic for Connor because of his situation. He doesn’t have the important family support he needs to make himself better.
I wish we could know more about Ann in the present. I felt a sense of closure at the end of the book, but probably because I was so invested in her and Connor, I’m left wanting more information. I’d like to know more about Ann’s mother and her friends. I’d love to read a second book to see how Ann’s doing, or maybe even one from Connor’s point of view. Regardless, this is an excellent novel that opens up many discussion options.
My students read Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn in my Young Adult Literature class, and I think But I Love Him would compliment that book very well. I’d love to have my students read both books and discuss their feelings and thoughts about the characters and points of view in both novels. This is a book I loved and can’t wait to share with my students....more
Johanna has been living her life always aiming for perfection: perfect grades, perfect daughter, perfect student. Her parents are extremely strict, an Johanna has been living her life always aiming for perfection: perfect grades, perfect daughter, perfect student. Her parents are extremely strict, and in Johanna’s eyes, cold and never understanding. For some time she’s had a crush on Paul, the boy in class who never fails to make people laugh. She’s determined to grab his attention and once she does things change. Unlike Johanna, Paul doesn’t care what others think. He does whatever makes him happy, even at the cost of others. For Johanna, keeping Paul in a good mood is a never-ending struggle. If he isn’t happy, Johanna receives the blunt of his anger. How far will Johanna let this go on before she loses herself and those closest to her?
I wanted to read this book for a couple of reasons. One of the biggest reasons is because Patrick Jones is from Michigan and most of his stories take place in Genesee County. My students have shown an interest in his books as well. In one of my YA Lit classes, a student book-talked Things Change because it’s similar in plot to Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn.
The story is told from two perspectives; most of it’s from Johanna’s perspective. We see Paul’s side of the story when he is drinking and writing to his dad. It took me a while to get into this book. Johanna is written as insecure, which works for the story, but her insercurities grew tiresome. After about 100 pages I was more interested in the book because Paul and Johanna’s relationship became more complicated and intense. I definitely recommend reading it, because the message Jones delivers is an important one. If you like Breathing Underwater and/or Dreamland by Sarah Dessen, then you’ll enjoy Things Change by Patrick Jones. ...more