This book is an excellent meditation on how to be at peace with one's self and let go of the concept of one's self at the same time. Our ego, our desi...moreThis book is an excellent meditation on how to be at peace with one's self and let go of the concept of one's self at the same time. Our ego, our desires, our cravings create a world of endless suffering. This is a difficult concept to understand, let alone practice, but it makes a lot of sense. If we learn to let go, we can be open. If we learn to acknowledge and then extinguish our cravings, we are open to every possiblity.
A book not just for Buddhists, but for everyday people interested in the human mind and spirit. (less)
As a survivor of bullying, I am grateful for today’s YA literature that confronts the topic head on and isn’t afraid to look create a “worst case scen...moreAs a survivor of bullying, I am grateful for today’s YA literature that confronts the topic head on and isn’t afraid to look create a “worst case scenario” of the after effects of bullying. Hannah has committed suicide and Clay Jensen is about to find out how he, and several other classmates are culpable. He listens to tape after tape of Hannah’s life since arriving to her new town and new high school and how seemingly normal or expected teenage behavior can push one student, who is already on the edge, over. From parentless parties, to reckless teen driving, to drinking and hanging out at the local “make out diner” all of which Clay had a part in, Hannah is almost invisible and powerless as events that rule her life are considered part of the everyday interaction of teens.
This book tackles rape, bullying through rumor mills and sexual harassment, underage drinking and ally behavior. What most struck me is how other teens often overlook their peers who are hurting because of their own issues. There are a few allies in the story, of which Clay was one, but he even expresses his impotence to help Hannah as he knows that he would have been there for her, but didn’t say enough- he didn’t know what to say and when to say it. Teaching kids to be allies is as important as preventing bullying and harassment.
Adults play a huge role in the self esteem and protection of young people and I was surprised that there wasn’t more adult intervention in this book. As a teacher, I would hope that more adults who are in charge of working with students are more tuned in to the frailties of adolescence. This aspect of the book troubled me. As an example, when Hannah’s question is read in class, the demand by the students is for the author to reveal him/herself, not the substance of the work which should have been the focus for the teacher.
It might also be a cautionary tale for teachers and other adults who work with teens to be more alert, and yes, even more suspicious of students for the sake of intervening in potentially harmful behavior. I did feel as I mentioned in the beginning of my review, that Jay Asher seems to present the “worst case scenario” of what happens when the emotions of a teen go unchecked and unobserved by those around him/her. (less)
I had many problems with this book: for one, Katie's parents and the town of New Canaan seem hopelessly stuck in some sort of Stepford Wives type (non...moreI had many problems with this book: for one, Katie's parents and the town of New Canaan seem hopelessly stuck in some sort of Stepford Wives type (non) reality. It is no wonder Katie eventually needs a mood stabilizer when the trial is over and she transfers to a boarding school: HER PARENTS!!!! The fact that she was not seen as a victim of a sex offender until near the end of the trial (almost two years later) seemed really shameful. Katie was naive and to equate being a good student and star athlete with being aware of the predatory ways of men at the age of 13, is not realistic or fair. Even more poignant, Katie actually blamed herself and was very confused about her feelings toward "Mark" (real name Frank). This is a classic example of the emotional damage sex offenders inflict on their victims and often shame them into silence. Again, Katie's parents played right into that with their judmental attitude and hostile behavior.
This book ultimately feels like it was written by a young woman still coming to terms with an event that altered- at least for a few years- her perception of herself and those around her. Katie.com is a cautionary tale even with today's media-savvy teenager who are all too often bullied, lured and tricked on the Internet. (less)
Hmmm... so you are thinking that that the hot, popular senior in your school is over the moon about you and can't get enough of your wit and charm mix...moreHmmm... so you are thinking that that the hot, popular senior in your school is over the moon about you and can't get enough of your wit and charm mixed with a bit of sexiness? Well join the club! Because chances are if he is romancing you, he has romanced others and you won't be the first or last! Join the "broken hearts club" ladies because some guys just want you as a trophy- and the game they are playing is you.
A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl is the terrific story of three high school girls who don't have anything in common except for the betrayal and embarrassment they feel when they are used and dumped by a guy known only as, T.L. Each girl has her reasons for being attracted to him and each girl will discover why other girls have been left confused, broken-hearted and angry thanks to, Josie who tries to save the others from going through what she went through by leaving a note in her favorite book in the library, Forever, By Judy Blume.
I connected with the characters in this funny, and yet at times, pathetic story about girls who when it is all said and done, just want to be liked intensely by a “cute guy.” Each girl is naive in her own way (Josie is a Freshman who is wooed by T.L’s smooth talk; Nicollette sees herself as a “guy magnet” and is somewhat invincible when it comes to getting hurt; Aviva is a “granola/hippie” who finds herself inexplicably attracted to T.L., though she professes to know how bad boys operate) but what they all have in common is the belief that they are special- special enough to win the heart and full-time attention of a guy who has a reputation of not sticking around, especially if he has sex with you. It just goes to show what happens when we let our hormones dictate what we do instead of our brains!
What’s particularly familiar for me as a reader is that even adult women tend to have this idea that we can “save” a man or that we are somehow able to turn a bad boy into a good one. Ladies, this doesn’t happen anywhere on the planet except on TV or in a book. What I enjoyed about this misadventure is that eventually the girls get it- they know that they were used by T.L and yes they are hurt, embarrassed and feel rather foolish, but in the end, they don’t turn on each other, they turn toward each other and make him the outcast. Indeed they learn the most valuable lesson about how good girls can actually be helped by a bad boy.
Have you ever wondered why “jerks” get all of the girls? Have you ever wondered why girls always go out with them? Double Date by R.L. Stine is a book...more Have you ever wondered why “jerks” get all of the girls? Have you ever wondered why girls always go out with them? Double Date by R.L. Stine is a book about jerk Bobby Newkirk and his conquest of the girls at Shady High School and what happens when he tries his tricks on the wrong girl. Other than himself, there’s nothing more Bobby likes than breaking girls’ hearts. He dates them and then dumps them without a care in the world. There is no girl Bobby can’t convince to go out with him and that includes new girls, Samantha and Bree. What’s more challenging for Bobby is that not only are these two girls beautiful, they’re sisters! And what’s better than sisters, twins! Bobby can’t believe his good luck. He immediately sets out to “conquer” both of these shy new girls who have no idea Bobby is a heartbreaker. Bobby succeeds in dating both girls who believe that they are exclusive to him. In fact, they haven’t told each other that they are both dating him! But like all secrets, they don’t last forever and eventually Samantha, the daring, adventurous sister, tells Bobby that Bree is shy, insecure and maybe even dangerous. She doesn’t take rejection well. Bobby is pretty confident that he can escape any danger that Bree might pose, but can he? Soon, Bobby is wrapped up in some sisterly drama that he might not live to tell about. This is my first R.L. Stine Fear Street Book and I enjoyed it! At first I was turned off by Bobby’s character and the girls around him, but soon, I realized that they were much smarter and stronger than I thought. I also like the way Bobby met his match with Samantha. Bobby was reckless and careless with the girls he went to school with and Samantha was reckless and careless with Bobby’s time and life! The book is well written with a good balance of humor and suspense. I will return to the Fear Street series.
Love and other Four Letter Words- Review Written by Carolyn Mackler
Life for HS student Sammie Davis couldn’t get any worse: her best friend Kitty has...moreLove and other Four Letter Words- Review Written by Carolyn Mackler
Life for HS student Sammie Davis couldn’t get any worse: her best friend Kitty has a boyfriend and is a magnet for all of the local boys, Sammie is developing physically in ways she would just assume ignore, and to make matters worse, her parents are separating temporarily (or so they say) with her dad moving to Palo Alto, California and Sammie and her mom moving to New York City! Sammie’s life in a matter of weeks is turned upside down with all of the contents shaken out. Love and Other four-Letter Words is the story of Sammie Davis’ life as she adjusts to her parents’ separation, a new city, a new school and most importantly, a new understanding of who she is as a teenager. She narrates her story in first person, which gives us, the reader, an emotional connection to the joys and mostly frustrations of growing up. Sammie is frustrated by her mom’s inability to shake off her depression and her loss of close connection with her dad. Sammie’s best friend, Kitty, seems more and more self-absorbed in a way that Sammie can no longer tolerate. All is not lost though, as Sammie meets Phoebe who walks her dog at the local dog park. Sammie and Phoebe immediately hit it off as both are awkward teenagers with their own problems (Phoebe has a runaway case of acne) and have never had boyfriends or a lot of experience kissing or anything else for the matter! They begin to forge a friendship based on mutual understanding and non-judgment. Sammie also finds herself involved in her first relationship with her childhood friend, Eli. It had been years since Sammie and and Eli had seen each other, but they are reunited as their mothers reconnect and Sammie discovers that she and Eli will attend the same high school at the end of the summer. Eli’s behavior seems aloof and at times awkward, but as we discover, there is actually a bit of chemistry brewing between them that neither sees coming. Over the summer Sammie begins to see herself as an individual, separate herself from Kitty, speak up for herself in spite of her parents’ dysfunction, and accept the budding and unexpected romance between her and Eli. She also discovers what it means to have a true friend. Love and Other Four Letter Words is an enjoyable book for its honesty, complexity of emotions, and interesting characters. It starts off rather slow in terms of its pacing, but once Sammie and her mom move to New York, about 50 pages in, the book becomes more interesting. I did feel that the character of Kitty was a bit over-written, as she was so self-absorbed and at times cruel, that I had a hard time believing her as a character. I also thought the relationship between Sammie and Eli was a bit too coincidental and neatly packaged to be completely believable as well but I did appreciate the lesson of “being yourself” and meeting the right person who complements you. The message of Love… seems to be clear as Sammy heals her own heart with her parents’ trial separation and the ending of her friendship (or at least on hold) with Kitty, her new friendship with Phoebe and budding romance with Eli. It is a lot for one summer, to be sure, but as Sammie in her own words tells us, “Along with love comes other four-letter words. Like hate, obviously. And loss. And gain. And most important, grow.”