YA author Stephanie Morrill (author of Me, Just Different) captured the true voice of the American teenage girl again in The Revised Life of Ellie Swe...moreYA author Stephanie Morrill (author of Me, Just Different) captured the true voice of the American teenage girl again in The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet. From the first line, I knew Ellie was a girl I wanted to know yesterday. She's made of stubborn, sprinkled with wryness, and wrapped with heart.
Using the classic literary device of a story within a story, Morrill keeps readers turning pages. We get to live in the contemporary lives of Morrill's high school characters while also traveling back in time to medieval Italy where Ellie's friends have become players in a courtly scene. The story within the story reveals so much about how Ellie's mind works and how she has absorbed and interpreted the drama in her life. Plus there's the "can't look away from the train wreck" aspect because we know that if Ellie's friends get hold of her manuscript, they'll be furious about how she has depicted them.
I loved so much about this book--the solid advice it gives for writers of any age who dream of publication, the presentation of a teenage girl who isn't afraid to be an intellectual, and the characters (male and female) who sound real enough to be in any high school hall.
But what tugged at me most was the lesson Ellie learns (one I learned over and over) about how to balance speaking truth with protecting the feelings of others, and why it's not always the best decision to keep secrets from everyone.
Morrill understands the delicate social lives of teen girls better than most writers these days. I highly recommend this book for girls looking for honesty about the awkward situations we find ourselves in so often in high school. Morrill doesn't pull punches about things like deceiving parents and friends or keeping secrets, but she's also gentle with Ellie and allows her to come to an awareness that's uncommonly mature by the book's end.
I can't wait for the sequel to find out how Ellie's writing life takes off and what happens to the characters she plucked from real life!(less)
In It's Over, Laura L. Smith (author of Hot, Skinny, and Angry) continues the contemporary university stories of the four girls from It's Complicated....moreIn It's Over, Laura L. Smith (author of Hot, Skinny, and Angry) continues the contemporary university stories of the four girls from It's Complicated. The girls, who have solidified their solid relationships on campus, must travel between home and school dealing with the worst parts of life--the death of a sibling, the aging of a grandparent, disloyal boyfriends, and the loss of a home. Through their trials, they continue to lean on one another and God, and find ways to be thankful even in the lean times. Smith crafts a story that will appeal to all girls.
Smith tackles incredibly difficult issues in this book--death, aging, depression, drug use, and jealousy and confusion. She folds story lines together so elegantly that readers will relate. It's a great reminder to all of us that all people have difficulties, no one is immune, and it is our job as caring individuals to sympathize and reach out.
My favorite part of this book, and this series, is that Smith writes about a time of life during which we have a tendency to be self-absorbed and turns that on its head. She shows the strain that comes from self-absorption and the beauty that comes from reaching out to others and to God. As in It's Complicated, Smith again teaches her characters to look away from mirrors and toward the people God has placed in their paths.
This is a fantastic read, one that will resonate with teens and college-aged girls and their mothers! I also recommend it for youth group use and situational studies. Fans of authors like Nicole O'Dell, Stephanie Morrill, Nancy Rue, and Melody Carlson will love Smith's style, voice, and subject matter.(less)
First, this won't be a book for everyone. It's a slow-burn kind of book that you have to hang in there with like you're getting to know a new friend o...moreFirst, this won't be a book for everyone. It's a slow-burn kind of book that you have to hang in there with like you're getting to know a new friend or family member. If you're not in love with character-driven stories, you might not give this one the chance it deserves.
But it does . . . deserve a chance.
I'm a huge fan of Zarr from the beginning. She's smart, real, and has a heart roughly the size of Texas. Her characters are incredibly layered and none of them can be summed up neatly. Same way with Lucy and her family. They're incredibly complicated, by design. Zarr did a brilliant job with building the interplay between family members who, because they're all whip smart and talented, have demons they fight and will always fight. The demons get in the way, often, but they also cause readers to notice their own issues.
We're all alike - whether you're from a privileged family like the Beck-Moreaus or a large family living in a rural community. We are all different versions of ourselves depending upon who we're interacting with, and our goal is to find people with whom we can be the best versions of ourselves.
There were these soaring moments in Lucy that stopped my heart - like the first time Lucy returns to the keyboard and her father can hardly take the emotion. He tells her she has broken his heart. Guys, that moment is so gorgeous. That's only one of many, many moments that have to be read more than once.
I've been recommending Lucy far and wide to all ages, but I really, really want high school kids who know or ARE the one who has lived a life marked by high expectations to read this book. It will resonate. It will change your mind about kids who are pushed to perform, and it will soften your heart toward families who are trying to make the best use of gifts.
I loved this book. I could live in Rowell's world for a long, long time. Funny, intelligent, sweet, and well-crafted. There's been mention of the e-co...moreI loved this book. I could live in Rowell's world for a long, long time. Funny, intelligent, sweet, and well-crafted. There's been mention of the e-correspondence style not being effective. I disagree completely. It worked incredibly well because Rowell kept things consistent. I can't get enough of her books. And her character development ranks with the best. She's John Green-like in her brilliant characterization. Looking forward to Fangirl. Eleanor and Park is a favorite of mine, too. Her dialogue makes me want to be a better writer....(less)
This is a love story played out within a cruel game. Murgia pulls her readers into the minds of Chase and Evie slowly, making both narrators irresisti...moreThis is a love story played out within a cruel game. Murgia pulls her readers into the minds of Chase and Evie slowly, making both narrators irresistible and highly relatable. Chase—the tortured, reserved boy, and Evie—the new girl who was quickly claimed by the “in” crowd, have watched each other from afar for months. Chase longs for Evie’s sincerity and kindness to heal places in him that no one can touch, and Evie is hungry for Chase’s honesty, intelligence and character. What may seem like a simple story taking place in the halls of a prep school, is actually a high-stakes, dangerous game where a few kids control the boards. These are smart, wealthy, entitled teens whose greatest joy comes from watching others suffer, and Murgia’s masterful storytelling will grip you from page one when your loyalty to the underdogs is set.
Readers will be impressed with Evie and Chase. He’s not the typical dark and dangerous brooder—he’s got the soul of a poet. He’s my kind of hero. And Evie never apologizes for being intelligent, a quality I admire in female main characters. She’s smart, talented, and beautiful, but also flawed and hurt by her messed-up family. All is not as it seems with Miss Evie, and readers will learn a lot about handling tough issues from her.
I’d recommend this book for teens who enjoy suspense with their love stories. Fans of Simone Elkeles and Tammara Webber will adore Murgia, who understands that first love is heady and complicated and full of surprises. (less)
This is a story for every girl—in fact, Smith ensures that by using four highly relatable narrators. Claire, Palmer, Kat and Hannah begin the story wi...moreThis is a story for every girl—in fact, Smith ensures that by using four highly relatable narrators. Claire, Palmer, Kat and Hannah begin the story with one thing in common—their choice of college. All four recent high school graduates meet on their new campus and decide to live together in a suite, a decision that forges strong bonds and forms the heart of the story. If you’ve ever wondered how important female friendships are, this book settles it. They are monumentally important—especially to four girls who’ve left home for the first time and are dealing with above average crises.
Smith depicts female friendships masterfully. I became so absorbed with the details of the lives exposed in this book, that I felt like I was back in my dorm room, talking to my own roommates. She brings a level of comfort and honesty to the story that is rare in YA fiction these days. There’s no biting sarcasm or irony here—just good, clear-eyed discussion of the parts of life that are most meaningful.
High school girls will adore these characters and find themselves in one or more of them. College girls will appreciate knowing there are fictional examples of what they’re living through right now. Life is tough—even on carefree university campuses—and Smith seems to get that better than most. (less)