Synopsis: After a bad break-up and an ugly sexting incident, Dylan Mahoney is an instant pariah. She findsSchool was the same sort of hell every day.
Synopsis: After a bad break-up and an ugly sexting incident, Dylan Mahoney is an instant pariah. She finds refuge in surfing the Internet, stumbling on the blogs of homeschooled fundamentalist Christian girls, quickly becoming obsessed with their clean, wholesome lives free of the kind of confusion and regret she feels. She makes herself a part of their world, blogging as "Faith", sharing invented stories of her fictional life. Dylan even manages to get herself invited to visit Abigail - one of the most popular bloggers - at home. Abigail's life is clearly more complicated than her blog suggests, and Dylan has to quickly decide whether to keep hiding behind "Faith" or to come clean about who she really is.
Review: Worlds collide in this YA novel. In Dylan's hyperconnected but emotionally distant home, both Mom and Dad are focused on their careers, hardly aware of anything going on in their children's lives, trusting them to make good choices and somehow shocked when Dylan makes a bad decision. On Abigail's family homestead, Mama is never far from the kitchen, while Daddy makes decisions for all the family members.
These are extremes, of course, but hardly outside the realm of possibility. Quiverfull families pop up in the news from time to time (usually when Michelle Duggar announces another pregnancy), and the Dean family is pretty clearly in that mold. (A quick web search will also net you a handful of blogs remarkably similar in tone to Abigail's.) Meanwhile, Dylan's workaholic parents' dependence on overscheduling and/or nanny-care for their kids reflects a pretty common modern suburban set-up.
Despite their initial characterization as polar opposites, though, Dylan and Abigail are, of course, more alike than either would have thought. A striking example comes in their respective reactions to certain events. After topless pictures of Dylan and a video of her tirade against her ex-boyfriend go viral, the entire school body heaps daily abuse on her, she blames herself, saying, "The thing is, I deserved it. Even though I still couldn't admit it out loud, I knew for certain that I deserved everything that came to me. I had been so stupid."
Abigail's echoes the self-blame when talking about an older man putting his hands on her, insisting that maybe she did something to make him do it. That incident, too, tells a lot about the safe and sheltered life Dylan believes Abigail leads.
Interestingly, the one thing Dylan never seems to quite realize is that when she hopped on a bus to meet her Internet friend, she could very well have found someone entirely different waiting for her at the station. (Kids: don't try this at home.) Of course, that would have been a very different sort of book, too.
This is an engaging story about friendship and loyalty, belief and confusion, and figuring out which path to take. You know, the things teens are thinking about every day. Bloss uses a light touch in this girl-centered contemporary realistic fiction all the way through the hopeful conclusion. Recommended for 9th grade and up (due to language and references to sexual situations).
Final Word: Friendship, loyalty, and honesty are the heart of this girl-centered light contemporary realistic novel.
Source: Checked out from my public library ...more
Everybody knows about the Macy's parade and its fantastic character balloons. But hardly anyone knows about the man behind the very first "upside-downEverybody knows about the Macy's parade and its fantastic character balloons. But hardly anyone knows about the man behind the very first "upside-down marionettes". With bright and cheerful images and just the right amount of text for one-to-one sharing, this is how you do a picture book biography....more
I have wished that Bull Mastrick would die almost every single day.
Synopsis: Victor Konig and William "Bull" Mastrick have been in school together sinI have wished that Bull Mastrick would die almost every single day.
Synopsis: Victor Konig and William "Bull" Mastrick have been in school together since kindergarten, but they have never been friends. When Victor looks at Bull, he sees the bully who has tortured him for over a decade. When Bull looks at Victor, he sees a wimpy rich kid. Of course, neither of them would dare share their real lives: Bull's physically abusive home and Victor's emotionally negligent parents are their secrets. That is, until they end up roommates in the mental health ward at the hospital, where the only way out is to start telling the truth.
Review: Walton takes a hot topic - school bullying - and examines it from both sides in this debut novel. Alternating first-person chapters reveal both characters' lives from both inside and out. They each have almost unbelievably terrible parents, and their individual methods of coping with their lousy home lives could hardly help but bring them into conflict. Walton creates sympathy for both characters and gives them opportunities to grow by the end of the book. The pace is relatively quick, although it occasionally gets bogged down by a feeling of repetition as each narrator gives his perspective on the same incident. Fine contemporary realistic fiction with a hopeful ending, this book nudges readers to look at one another just a little bit differently.
But Lucky was considering how, when you're eleven, you're interested in love and murder, blood and glory and kissing, things that are precious and fraBut Lucky was considering how, when you're eleven, you're interested in love and murder, blood and glory and kissing, things that are precious and fragile, things that are abandoned or condemned. Because eleven is much more intrepid than only ten.
Lucky Trimble is back, just on the verge of turning eleven years old. She's starting to think that, while Lincoln is a good guy and a good friend, it might be nice to be able to spend time with a girl her age for a change. And she would really like to do something, well, intrepid.
As in The Higher Power of Lucky, Patron's writing is stellar. The Old Desert Rat Characters of Hard Pan are in good hands, and it's great fun to see them again.
Problem: Am I a nerd who only has nerdy adventures? Hypothesis: No.
Ten-year-old Gabe is finally getting what he always wanted: a brother. His soon-to-bProblem: Am I a nerd who only has nerdy adventures? Hypothesis: No.
Ten-year-old Gabe is finally getting what he always wanted: a brother. His soon-to-be-stepmother has a son, Zack, who is his age. Gabe is sure that he and Zack will be best friends, but their first meeting is less than promising. Gabe quickly realizes that all the things he likes - math team, reading, museums and libraries - Zack sees as "nerdy". The only thing about Gabe that seems to impress Zack is that Gabe is about to go to sleep-away camp for the summer. What Zack doesn't know is that the camp is the Summer Center for Gifted Enrichment, a gathering of nerdy kids from across the country. Over the course of the summer, in between kayak trips and Color War, logic proofs and poetry writing, Gabe keeps a list of his adventures as evidence for whether or not he really is just a nerd, or if he might be something more.
With an eye for quirky detail, Weissman develops Gabe as a sensitive, hyperintelligent 10-year-old boy. In the first chapter, Gabe recalls staying up on New Year's Eve with his math team friends, when they calculated the number of seconds from 8:00 p.m. to midnight. He then thinks about calculating the number of seconds until his train in the morning, but he decides that it will just make him too excited to sleep. From his love of math to his cluelessness about girls, we hear Gabe's perspective on everything. It's a slyly funny narrative, with humor that even clever Gabe probably won't pick on until he's a little older. This is a fabulous contemporary realistic middle grade novel filled with humor and adventure, a great combination. A kid doesn't have to think he might be a nerd to enjoy this book, although he might finish it thinking that such a thing might not be so bad....more