This is one of those rare sequels that's even better than the original. Logan, Miles, Philip, and Daisy are back, along with a few other characters frThis is one of those rare sequels that's even better than the original. Logan, Miles, Philip, and Daisy are back, along with a few other characters from book 1 and some important new ones. This book has so much heart! There was nothing particularly wrong in my life as I read it, and yet the experience of reading it felt...healing, somehow. I love all four of these kids, even though they're pretty unrealistic.
There's a bit of fantasy in here, plus a number of coincidences and complicated plot details. Usually, I'm not wild about coincidences and large casts of characters and intricate plots, but in this book, they somehow work for me. There are so few books that I read with multiple main characters where I'm rooting for all the characters, where all the characters are developed and at least somewhat flawed, yet relatable. There's something magical about the relationships here, and it gives me so much hope for humanity. I know that sounds really sappy, but it's true. Even though the adults in their lives have let these kids down in various ways, you know that with each other, they'll all be OK. And as a reader, I felt like deep sense of OKness, too.
I couldn't quit reading, but I didn't want it to end. And I wanted to crawl right into the book and be part of these magical friendships. What more could I ask from a book?...more
I am going to have to rethink my "historical fiction is not really my thing" stance. I think I'm finally realizing that epic historical sagas are notI am going to have to rethink my "historical fiction is not really my thing" stance. I think I'm finally realizing that epic historical sagas are not my thing. But when I read a middle grade novel (this is designated for teens, but I think it's upper middle grade) centered around one character I care about, and the hardships that character faces, I am hooked. And when the setting is so finely drawn that I learn a lot without even realizing it along the way (Gypsies in Minnesota? Who knew?), that's even better. Kirby Larson and Gennifer Choldenko are two writers of historical fiction whose work I love. This book gripped me just as much. And as a bonus, it made me appreciate my own life SO much:>) My only small complaint was that I wished for one more chapter. I'm OK with not everything being totally tied up, sealed off, etc., and there was no ambiguity...it's clear what happens. But the ending did feel just a bit abrupt. Other than that minor detail, I really loved this book....more
I wish for every Melissa to have friends like Kelly, a brother like Scott, and a principal like Principal Maldonado. I know it's not going to happen,I wish for every Melissa to have friends like Kelly, a brother like Scott, and a principal like Principal Maldonado. I know it's not going to happen, and it feels a bit like a fairy tale...That's not to say Melissa isn't going to have to deal with a lot of misunderstanding and bullying, but she's definitely got some good support going. May every kid like Melissa have the same....more
What an excellent and engrossing novel from the author of the Alcatraz series. Set in San Francisco in 1900, this book brings Lizzie to life: smart, dWhat an excellent and engrossing novel from the author of the Alcatraz series. Set in San Francisco in 1900, this book brings Lizzie to life: smart, defiant, sometimes insecure Lizzie. She loves science and medicine--totally unsuitable! And she hates the private finishing school she attends. Over the course of the book, as she battles her aunt and uncle, prejudice (mostly in others, but even a little bit in herself), the plague, dishonest doctors and journalists, street performers, thugs, her own brother and beloved father, Lizzie learns more about the world and the way things work. She discovers unexpected allies and friends, and she opens her eyes to see the grey in the world, even though black and white is simpler. Lizzie is the kind of friend I'd like to have. She goes through terrible things, but she comes out stronger and smarter and better. I'm not a big reader of historical fiction, but I can always count on Choldenko's books for gripping reads that drop me into fascinating places and times and make me care about the people there....more
What a wonderful novel in verse! Each student has a distinct voice, and we get to know all of them throughout the year. I love how this made me thinkWhat a wonderful novel in verse! Each student has a distinct voice, and we get to know all of them throughout the year. I love how this made me think about big changes (like a community shutting down a school) and how complex that is. Some of the students want the school to close, although most don't. There are mixed emotions and big feelings around the topic. And there are also laughs, student elections, illness, death, crushes, rivals, friendships, religious/cultural dilemmas, and more. Everything that makes up the life of a fifth-grader is pretty much in here. A few of the lines or bits that I especially loved are:
School is the only place I can count on to never change.
I wish fifth grade wasn't such a tornado, whirling and spinning...
When I put the hijab on I float inside my scarf's blue cloth, the golden threads shimmer like sunshine...
When I sing with my friends, I like the sound of my voice.
But there were so many more. I didn't want it to end:>) This is a book full of reality, hope, and heart!...more
What a fabulous novel--the perfect mix of reality and heartbreak and hope and love. There are no easy answers here, and Jackson's story will both breaWhat a fabulous novel--the perfect mix of reality and heartbreak and hope and love. There are no easy answers here, and Jackson's story will both break your heart and begin to stitch it up again. That's how I feel when I read a book I know will stay with me a long time.
I moved out of my parents' house as a teenager, and I think I could've used a Crenshaw to help me through it!...more
When I first started this book, I was a little disoriented. I haven't read the other Mr. Terupt books, and I found the seven viewpoint characters tougWhen I first started this book, I was a little disoriented. I haven't read the other Mr. Terupt books, and I found the seven viewpoint characters tough to keep straight. And they reference past events so often that I felt very left out of the loop. AND they speak with such reverence about Mr. Terupt (who is offstage for the first 1/3 or 1/2 of the book) that it seems overdone and almost comical.
But. But...then I slowly fell in love with the book, the kids, and Mr. Terupt. Do I wish I had read the other titles first? Yes! (If you haven't read them, read them before reading this one.) But this book is about kids facing totally real, contemporary problems that involve their families, their friends, their school. And it's about the bonds that a great teacher forges with his students, and the impact that can have for years to come.
By the end of the book, I felt like it was a bit of magic, and I'd have been right in there baking brownies for Mr. Terupt, too....more
Hmm. This was an okay read. But if you've read HOLES and loved it, approach this book with caution. It's an all right story, but for a writer of SachaHmm. This was an okay read. But if you've read HOLES and loved it, approach this book with caution. It's an all right story, but for a writer of Sachar's talent, that's clearly not what you expect. It seems almost like a sketch for a novel--maybe some prewriting or a first draft--rather than a completed work....more
Lovely novel in verse! I learned a lot about a period/time I was really ignorant of. Wonderful details and characters--I especially enjoyed the poemsLovely novel in verse! I learned a lot about a period/time I was really ignorant of. Wonderful details and characters--I especially enjoyed the poems from the forest's/creatures' points of view....more
I really enjoyed the main storyline here. I cared about the characters, and the plot really gets into touchy choices that teens face today (sharing inI really enjoyed the main storyline here. I cared about the characters, and the plot really gets into touchy choices that teens face today (sharing inappropriate photos, disapproving of family members' actions, etc.). It felt contemporary but never gritty, and I don't like gritty, so I liked that!
I like the story alternating between Bridge and Sherman, and the big issues they're both dealing with. The people of this school, the friendships with each other, the way things evolve...it all just feels so natural, so real. Really lovely.
What I didn't care for was the structure of the chapters woven in that were told in second person from a secondary character's point of view, and that character is not identified until the very end. This felt false and engineered to accomplish something, but whatever it was, it didn't, for me. It was just a distraction.
Still, overall, it's a 4 out of 5 for me. Wonderful main story.
A few quotes I love:
Bridge knew why she was here. It's why we're all here, she thought.
There was no black line between friendship and whatever might come next.
[E]very time a decision is made, the universe splits into two.
Because if she truly remembered, she'd know that everything is exactly as terrible as it feels....more
I enjoyed this novel--wow, what an eye-opening immersion into rural life in Norway in the 1800s! I'm not a huge folktale lover, so the weaving in of tI enjoyed this novel--wow, what an eye-opening immersion into rural life in Norway in the 1800s! I'm not a huge folktale lover, so the weaving in of those didn't really do a lot for me. But a young girl sold as a goatgirl who stands up for herself, rescues her little sister, and finagles her way toward America? I'm in. Astri is not always that likeable, because she doesn't think she's a good person. But as the novel goes on, I like her more and more. The way Spinning Girl works into the story, and the adventures on board the ship, and the danger (of rape, of death, of discovery) that's ever-present in her life all make for a rollicking good adventure.
I didn't like being left hanging about various plot elements--(view spoiler)[whether she finds her father in America, how things work out for her and Greta, and whether she is ever reunited with Spinning Girl (also her sister, though she doesn't find that out until she's left her behind) (hide spoiler)]--I did feel a sense of completion with Astri herself, and the way her feelings about herself have changed.
This is a dark and dramatic tale, and don't miss the excellent author's note at the end!
(One note on the audio download version: The narrator doesn't pronounce the author's name correctly! That's pretty sad.)["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
What a lovely book! It's always a bit scary reading a book a friend has written. I always want to like it, but...you just never know. I know Liz is aWhat a lovely book! It's always a bit scary reading a book a friend has written. I always want to like it, but...you just never know. I know Liz is a wonderful poet and picture book writer, but this is her first novel, and to top it all off, it's a southern road-trip novel--two genres I'm NOT immediately drawn to. And it's a beautiful book, so there you go.
I am not completely wild about the title, cover illustration, or back jacket copy, to be perfectly honest. So when I started this book, I worried that it might be too full of abstract ideas, ruminations on life, and overall sweetness. Luckily, I was wrong. Liz has built a world that feels as concrete as the dying geraniums on my deck right now, as close as the Coke Zero by my mousepad. Ivy is kind and full of faith, yes, but she's also a bit short-tempered and tired of being patient. I love that about her! She tells people off, gets her feelings hurt, and judges what her mother has done--as well she should!
I fell in love with Ivy and Paul, and I wanted so badly for things to work out perfectly for Ivy. And they do work out, not in a perfect, unrealistic, could only happen in a novel kind of way, but in a real life, dying geraniums and Coke Zero and life is still pretty good kind of way.
To top it all off, I was a Spacecoast baby, and my dad was an engineer at NASA most of his adult life, so the Space Shuttle subplot was a sweet spot for me.
So, even if the elements of a religious girl, a southern setting, and a mother who's run off with Hallelujah Dave don't hook you immediately, as they don't me, give this book a try. I'm betting you'll be so drawn in to Ivy and her humor and honesty that you won't be able to put it down after the first chapter....more
Really enjoyed this suspense/science novel by Kate. The setting was spooky, the plotting was tight, and the main character was relatable. Read this inReally enjoyed this suspense/science novel by Kate. The setting was spooky, the plotting was tight, and the main character was relatable. Read this in bed while I was sick, and I was so glad to have the distraction of a good book!...more