While most teenagers are worried about whether a boy likes them, if their hair is perfect, if they have latest fashionable clothing, Aura has other th...moreWhile most teenagers are worried about whether a boy likes them, if their hair is perfect, if they have latest fashionable clothing, Aura has other things to worry about - a mother who is showing signs of having a a Schizophrenic episode. To make it worse, she has no one to help her, her father having moved out and remarried a few years ago. Her father's absence and complete lack of concern leaves Aura to take care of her mother all by herself, even watching her through a window outside while her mother teaches art classes, just to make sure she can 'save' her mother if she has an episode. Aura is afraid to tell anyone, afraid that she will be locked up along with her mother in a hospital. At first Aura denies these possibilities, delving into her art. After connecting famous artists who were also Schizophrenic, and now dead, Aura fears art, that indulging in any type of art will make her sink into the darkness of Schizophrenia.
Aura's character is very unique. I have read many characters that are artistic in some way, but I especially enjoyed Aura's creative skills. Not only does she draw but her poetic skills are pretty impressive as well, of which Holly Schindler gives you tastes. While Aura's situation is also unique in a way, Holly Schindler has done a great job in making it so every reader can relate to - I don't mean that we all have a Schizophrenic parent that we take care of alone; I am talking about how we all have 'secrets' that we don't want to share with others. Even little secrets that we try to hide, knowing that we should share them with at least one person.
I felt that the love interest, Jeremy, could have been left out in a way. I honestly felt at times he was a bit pushy, only speaking with Aura to get her to paint his skateboard. Also, the last thing Aura needed in her life was a romantic relationship. But at the same time Jeremy gave Aura the very much human emotions that she was lacking. Even something as simple as freedom while riding on a skateboard.
Also, I love beautiful writing, and don't get me wrong, Holly Schindler has done just that. The only problem I have with her writing in A Blue So Dark is the number of times she uses Imagery. I felt like I was being smothered by imagery. Individually, each one is amazing, but when you are given at least a small handful on every page it can become a bit too much. HOWEVER, this does not make the novel or Aura's story any less relevant and impacting. After reading this novel, you will be moved and affected in ways that you might not know. For me, I had to sit with this novel for a few days before even coming to terms with it. This novel is definitely in a class all its own - in a good way. I recommend this one for those interested in reading about something new yet serious. (less)
Devon is a star soccer player, with hopes and even a chance to make it to the Olympics. Devon has over a 4.0 GPA. She follows the rules and never brea...moreDevon is a star soccer player, with hopes and even a chance to make it to the Olympics. Devon has over a 4.0 GPA. She follows the rules and never breaks them. She is known to be the perfect student and teenager. That is until one morning her world is shattered and turned upside down when two cops knock on her door. They have found a newborn baby dying in a trash can behind her apartment complex. She has no idea why they are knocking on her door... Why would she have any knowledge about a dying baby? Even though Devon has no knowledge about this, she is arrested and sent to a Juvenile Detention Center. There she waits until the courts can decide whether to charge her as an adult or a child for Attempted Murder, Child Abandonment, and Assault.
While this story is about the epidemic of mothers dumping their babies in the trash, Amy Efaw's book is more about a girl's journey in finding out the truth of what she really did, and thus who she really is. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that Devon committed this crime. The question is, did she know what she was doing while doing it... Even more so, why; understanding the reasons behind her actions.
Most of the story takes place within the Juvenile Detention Center, where Devon meets many different teenage girls, there for many different reasons. By learning a bit more about these girls, Devon finds a little bit more about herself. During her time, you are also given glimpses into Devon's past to find the events of what really happened: the father of the baby, when she started to feel the symptoms of pregnancy, how she alienated her friends, how she was in denial, and most importantly the morning of the event. Amy Efaw bluntly pushes the question of whether Devon is a good character or a bad character, and what will happen to her, in your face. This book is raw in detail and by focusing on a real issue that occurs today, you are left affected in many different ways.
I personally enjoyed this book - it had all the right qualities and aspects of a Teen-Social-Issue book (as I call them). I felt for Devon throughout the entire book, while at the same time, knowing she committed such a atrocious crime. I also felt uncomfortable as Amy Efaw describes details of gruesome but real events. I loved how Amy Efaw pushed this issue into my face and never backed down. A must read!! (less)
Where to begin... I am always eager to read a new YA book that deals with 'real tough issues' in a 'paranormal' way. And while this book was not reall...moreWhere to begin... I am always eager to read a new YA book that deals with 'real tough issues' in a 'paranormal' way. And while this book was not really 'paranormal' by definition, it did share some some of it's elements. Let's just say that I was not left dissapointed in any way!
'Hearts are like stones on an ocean beach...And people are like the tides that leave permanent marks on them.'
Egan has spent her entire life with one goal: to make it big in figure-skating. Amelia has spent the greater part of her life sick, in dire need of a new heart. When Egan's life suddenly ended Amelia's begins. After receiving Egan's heart Amelia starts to notice herself change in little ways. Without explanation, Amelia feels a connection the owner of her new heart, knowing things about her and her life while not really understanding why. At the same time, Egan struggles with coming to turns that she is actually dead, taking a journey on memory lane to moments in her life that have defined who she is while giving her a greater understanding of her life and those in it.
This is a book you really must take your time reading. I wanted to keep turning those pages like I was running out of time, it was that good. But I had to stop myself numerous times. I found myself needing to take a step back and digest what I had just read. It was that moving, at least for me. If you decide to read straight through you won't be disappointed in that it is a very quick read, not just because of the writing style (which is amazing!) but also because of how wonderful this story is.
Besides the brilliance of how Ellsworth brought in some paranormal aspects, I was blown away by the way she developed her characters, and not just Egan and Amelia but some of the secondary characters as well (Egan's mother for example). To do this she takes you through Egan's memories and for Amelia she uses her present. In focusing on the past and the present, Ellsworth created a middle ground for these two girls to come together in a way I have never read before. Again, you won't be disappointed in this book at all. Your heart strings and emotions will be tugged at while warmed all the same time.
Julie Anne Peters' book is very raw and moving. In this 'compilation', Peters shares many fictional stories from girls and their experiences as Lesbia...moreJulie Anne Peters' book is very raw and moving. In this 'compilation', Peters shares many fictional stories from girls and their experiences as Lesbians, Bisexual, and Curious. While these stories are fictional they feel real, each overflowing with emotion. Character development in this book was done through their emotions and experiences. Its hard to develop a character fully in short stories, and Julie Anne Peters does an amazing job in giving her characters their chance to speak, showing who they really are.
I would recommend this book to everyone and anyone. While the subject throughout all the short stories is sexual orientation, Peters takes you beyond that and makes the real subject "being human" and having thoughts, feelings, and emotions that transcend one's sexual orientation.
There were times I felt proud of some of the girls, others where I was furious and others where I felt sympathy and sadness for them. This book really opened my eyes, no just into the GLBT's, but into human beings and women as they are. (less)
Wow! I am stunned at how amazing this book is. It actually took me a while to read, not because it was boring or horrible, but because how great and h...moreWow! I am stunned at how amazing this book is. It actually took me a while to read, not because it was boring or horrible, but because how great and heavy it was.
Scars opens up new emotional levels you did not know you had!
Kendra is one of the strongest characters I have had the pleasure to read, and I am taking into account her own struggle with cutting. As a survivor of sexual abuse, Kendra is haunted by memories and fears that she is only able to deal with by cutting and painting. Not only is adding art a beautiful way of coping, Cheryl Rainfield perfectly describes Kendra's emotions through her descriptions of her art. You can literally imagine yourself standing in front of her work and looking up on it.
Kendra's life is like walking on glass, in which she finds solace through a therapist, a friend, and through a knife. It is no wonder that this book is banned, as it does beat around the bush of real issues. At the same time Cheryl Rainfield doesn't shove these issues in your face but gradually makes you aware of their truths as Kendra becomes aware. In doing so you feel closer to Kendra, feeling everything she feels as she feels it.
You will be left speechless after reading Scars as well as a new found understanding on the affects of sexual abuse. Scars is a book you will never forget, let alone want to. (less)
Russel Middlebrook has officially been "out" for some time, and while it is great he is out it really is suffocating him in a way. His solution: to be...moreRussel Middlebrook has officially been "out" for some time, and while it is great he is out it really is suffocating him in a way. His solution: to become a camp counselor and tell no one he is gay. The moment he meets the kids at camp he starts to wonder if becoming a counselor was a good idea - they are unruly! How can Russel make sure he gets these kids to respect and like him at the same time? By creating The Order of the Poison Oak. And even though Russel's hope for the summer is some freedom from his 'gay' role back home, he finds an attractive fellow counselor... who is sending him mixed signals.
I thought this book was much better than the first installment, The Geography Club. Maybe this is the camp setting. Camp settings offer a completely different world where events and friends are made that wouldn't happen anywhere else. Brent Hartinger gives us Russel's point of view, with much commentary from him directly - I was surprised at how much I liked this! I found Russel to be more witty, keen, emotional through this technique than I did in The Geography Club.
I also really enjoyed how Brent Hartinger added another 'issue' that is hardly ever discussed.... Russel's campers are just 'normal' campers, they are burn victims. I felt that Russel's real character came out - while he fumbles a bit in the beginning he really grows as a human being in working with these kids.
Of course Russel's sexuality is still part of the story. Web is a fellow counselor who Russel has eyes for from day one. However, Russel is getting mixed signals from him, and he is even sending Min (Russel's bi-sexual best friend) mixed signals as well. But Russel is not the only love story in this book - some of the minor characters get to have their opportunity in 'love'.
Overall, this was a wonderful read. I loved how it flowed with ease, and as I've already stated, I loved loved loved how Hartinger created a connection between Russel and the readers through his commentaries. Furthermore, I was thoroughly impressed by Hartinger's genius to include other 'issues' while maintaining a connection to GLBT. (less)
Crank is a very unique and different book. Ellen Hopkins shows us the journey that so many, unfortunately, take when they start doing drugs, and the c...moreCrank is a very unique and different book. Ellen Hopkins shows us the journey that so many, unfortunately, take when they start doing drugs, and the consequences it has not just on their life but on the lives surrounding them.
"Life is full of choices. We don't always make good ones. It seems to Kristina you gotta be crazy to open your windows, invite the demons in. Bree throws rocks at the feeble glass, laughs (p.83)"
Kristina's journey with Meth and drugs starts during a visit at her Dad's house (who also has had his own personal problems with drugs). There she is introduced into the Meth world through a boy. We are then introduced to Bree, Kristina's "other-half" - the part of Kristina that is Meth, also known as The Monster. Upon the first introduction, Kristina struggles with Bree for control, but quickly finds herself loosing.
As Bree becomes more and more prominent and her addiction to the Monster grows by leaps and bounds, Kristina's journey takes dark and unusual turns. No longer is school important, her long time friends become irrelevant, and her dreams and hopes are no longer long term but impulsive and at the moment.
"Crank, You See isn't any ordinary monster. It's like a giant octopus, weaving its tentacles not just around you, but through you, squeezing not hard enough to kill you, but enough to keep you from reeling until you try to get away. Try, and you hunger for it grasping clutch, the way its tendrils prop you up, your need intensifying exponentially every minute you refuse to admit its being (p.469)"
The first installment in Ellen Hopkins' Crank series is a harsh and raw introduction into the world of drugs. Kristina's and Bree's inner thoughts are anything bet held back, pushing the harsh realities of dug use into your face. You will want to scream at Kristina/Bree, demanding her reasons for starting to flirt with The Monster, and at the same time feel sympathy and a level of understanding for her. Told in Free-Verse, and even formated in unique ways, you will become "hooked" to Kristina's and Bree's story and struggle with "The Monster". (less)
I will first admit that it was the cover that first caught my attention... I mean seriously! If you don't want to know more about this book just by lo...moreI will first admit that it was the cover that first caught my attention... I mean seriously! If you don't want to know more about this book just by looking at the cover then I don't know what you are thinking! But let's be serious folks. Sticky Fingers was a wonderful novel! Jenna is straight laced, both in school and in life. She has just received early admissions into Harvard, has an amazing boyfriend who is popular, hot and faithful, and an amazing best friend - overall Jenna has a pretty good life. Sticky Fingers is about Jenna finding her own path without worry or doubt of other people's actions and opinions. In particular, Niki Burnham explores the one decision many teens face: to have sex or not. Jenna feels the pressure to finally sleep with her amazing boyfriend after over a year of dating. All he wants to do is relax, and he wants Jenna to relax... with him.
I have read many reviews that say this novel had a very slow pace for more than half of the book. While this is true, I actually enjoyed it. The novel's slow paced movement worked in it's favor - you really get to know Jenna. While the novel's synopsis tells you that Jenna is a hard worker, you come to understand why and just how much throughout most of the novel. I loved Jenna's character completely. While being pressured to have sex, you also find Jenna's character to be honest, wholesome (in a non-annoying way), and just overall a good person. But of course she is far from perfect (even though she is a smarty-pants going to Harvard). She struggles with herself, her actions and her decisions. What does she do when she find her best friend is having trouble, while lying to her? Does she look beyond the lie to find the truth, standing by her side, or does she wash her hands completely?
Honestly, the only thing I can say that did not do this novel justice is the amount of time (or lack there of in this case) spent on exploring the issue of Date Rape & Date Rape Drugs. While this novel is about so much more than this, I feel it is such an important issue that needs to be examined more. The book just ended a little happy given this. HOWEVER, you must read this! If you pick up books solely because of their cover (which I sometimes do), you will not be disappointed if you do so with this novel!!(less)