This? Was a definite emotional roller coaster. I really have to applaud Tabitha Suzuma for choosing such a controversial subject to write about, stick...moreThis? Was a definite emotional roller coaster. I really have to applaud Tabitha Suzuma for choosing such a controversial subject to write about, sticking with it, and finally for writing about it incredibly well. All the way through Forbidden, I still had that lingering icky feeling that I have when I think about incest, even consensual incest, AND at the very same time I am rooting whole-heartedly for Maya and Lochlan to just together, damnit. How did that happen?
The justification for this odd-pairing seemed quite believeable when placing the two lovebirds in the awful home scenario presented in the book. Their youngish mother, keen to live out some of her fading youth very close to abandons these five children to their own devices, while their father has emigrated to Australia to start a new family. This leaves the two oldest, Lochan and Maya to juggle high school and their three younger brothers and sisters.
I'm really glad there was a dual-narrative, the reader can definitely see that this relationship definitely is consensual. For Maya, she's never seen Lochan as her brother, but more a partner in life. Much the same for Lochan, but his social anxiety is at such a level that he feels increasingly alone and can only really interact with family members. Both are under enormous pressure. To do well in school, to keep their brothers and sisters fed and clean, clothed and doing their homework. Even doing the bills and worrying about things far beyond what they should be worrying at their ages. Add that to these feelings that they know nobody else will understand or tolerate? It was Maya's perspective that I found the most engaging, but I did feel as though both voices felt a little similar.
It was very difficult reading this book. It would have been bad enough, just reading about the level of neglect and poor parenting of their mother, but added to this the guilt and confusion of Maya and Lochan as they realise their feelings for each other and try to supress their emotions. All the jealousy and the build-up to that final explosive conclusion. Phew. I was absolutely frazzled by the end. There's such a feeling of foreboding to this book, that it can't possibly end well, can it?
Has anyone else read anything besides by Tabitha Suzuma besides Forbidden? Because I'm a little excited to find a new author that I love with a backlist! My only minor complaint with Forbidden is that I sort of hated all the kids' names apart from Maya. Still, one not to miss, if you can handle the subject matter! (less)
I was so, so excited to read this story. I had an inkling that Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson would fit in with the theme, Death and Ber...moreI was so, so excited to read this story. I had an inkling that Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson would fit in with the theme, Death and Bereavement in Teen Literature (now postponed/cancelled sadly!), but more than that it sounded like a lot of fun. I love books involving road trips and even though I'm not muscially inclined at all, I do also love books that include music, which this one does. And this one IS a lot of fun.
It's the stories of Amy and Roger as they travel cross country together. Amy's mom has already moved the family far away from their home in California and left Amy behind until things are sorted out. She recruits the son of a family friend, Roger to drive Amy to the new place. Virtual strangers beforehand, Amy and Roger really get to know each other over the course of a week as they swap music playlists, share memories of their childhood and learn what snacks and sodas the other picks up at the convenience stores. And they are both going through a lot. Amy Curry is 17 and is afraid to drive again after her father recently died in a car accident. She's still grieving his loss terribly and at the same time is leaving behind all the people and places she's known forever. It was really sad and beautiful, some of Amy's memories of her father before he died. Their shared love of Elvis and her memories from the day her father died. And Roger has his own issues to deal with as their road trip spans Yosemite National Park to Graceland.
I love the characters that we meet on this road trip, and how it seems that each person comes into Amy's life just as she needs something, whether it be someone to listen, a new wardrobe or to boost her self-confidence in some way. We can see a huge transformation from the beginning to end, starting with Amy being at a very low point, grieving and depressed into someone who is more able to face her demons and her fears and doesn't need to hide so much. The addition of the road-trip mementoes into the text - photos, reciepts, music play-lists really made me smile and feel like there was an extra layer to the story.
And of course, there's Amy and Roger together. They are so SWEET. Immediately attracted to Roger, Amy is very self-conscious at first, unsure of herself in relation to Roger. And they're put into some deliciously awkward moments. Sharing beds, spending long, tense hours in the car together, overhearing personal conversations, the pangs of jealousy as they stop at different places and are hit on by other people. Road trips can be so intimate, and Matson does a great job with throwing these two some interesting situations on their trip together. The highlight for me is meeting the Southern gentleman with a passion for topiary. Fantastic.
Amy and Roger's Epic Detour is a really sweet and romantic road trip between two teenagers, but it isn't all sugar and light-heartedness as it touches on some serious topics, from death of a loved one to drug addiction. It does come highly recommended by me! :) (less)
First, let me tell you that I LOVE reading dystopic books. There's usually something a little creepy or sinister lurking about. And Matched is no exce...moreFirst, let me tell you that I LOVE reading dystopic books. There's usually something a little creepy or sinister lurking about. And Matched is no exception.
At first, all seems well. With Cassia happily preparing for her Matching ceremony. She has her supportive parents there with her, her best friend Xander, her little brother is at home. Her grandfather has given her a beautiful and treasured gift. And yet...
Slowly we're introduced to the world that she lives in where everything is controlled. Who gets married to whom, the portions of food consumed, which clothes are to be worn, jobs, locations, even each person's time of death. This amount of control didn't seem like it was much of a problem at first, everything seems geared to giving people happy, long and stable lives. And then more and more is revealed and suddenly, for Cassia, it feels a little suffocating. Is there any point in struggling against the system? Will one person make a difference?
Other things are controlled as well. The officials decided long ago to limit the number of songs and paintings and poems to a hundred of each. It broke my heart to hear of such a thing. How would you pick out only one hundred songs or poems or pieces of art to keep and which to destroy forever? Poetry plays a big part in Matched, and though I don't read a lot of poetry, I've been inspired to read Dylan Thomas. But even though poetry and paintings and songs are limited, that doesn't stop people from remembering. Nobody can take that away.
But of course, aside from this new Society that Condie has created, she also gives us some wonderful characters. Characters to fall in love with. There's Cassia, a little naive to the world that she's living in, a little easy to believe everything she's told and a bit resistant to see how much of her life is controlled and manipulated by The Officials. Her parents, who are supportive of both of their children in very different ways. Cassia's grandfather, who she's able to talk to the most about all of the changes occurring in her life, the one who tries to steer her into being more curious and wonder about her world.
Steady, loyal Xander. Her best friend and her Match in every way. But is he? When Cassia sees another face as her Match, she does begin to wonder... is she meant to be with Xander, her closest friend? Or Ky Markham, a mysterious boy from the Outer Provinces? The boy who opens up to her, tells her his story and teaches her to create new things.
There's such a high amount of romantic scenes in Matched. It had my heart absolutely ACHING. I loved Xander and Ky! I want them all to be happy. There's so many different types of love portrayed in this book, with all of Cassia's different relationships. And I also really adored the psychology aspect of the novel. With the Matching, the mind games, the levels of control, the pills. Ky even brings up a psychological theory - the Prisoner's Dilemma, which I studied last year on a psychology course.
It makes for very interesting reading, this combination of a controlling society, psychology and a heart-wrenching love story. Matched is one not to miss!(less)
I got about 120 pages into this book before I decided not to go any further. It's *okay* I'm just not excited to read it whenever I out it down. I lik...moreI got about 120 pages into this book before I decided not to go any further. It's *okay* I'm just not excited to read it whenever I out it down. I like the idea of it and I liked the characters well enough but there's just something missing, some emotional connection that isn't happening.(less)
Oh dear, where to begin with this book? Love, Aubrey wrenched out my heart and stomped on it. But in a good way. I started it in the late afternoon/ea...moreOh dear, where to begin with this book? Love, Aubrey wrenched out my heart and stomped on it. But in a good way. I started it in the late afternoon/early evening and I couldn't bear to put it down. By 1am the following morning, I had finished it and was bawling like a baby in my bed. Actually sobbing big fat tears. So be warned! This one is a weep-inducing book.
Before I started reading this book, I knew it was going to be sad. But I thought that 11 year old Aubrey would be on her own throughout the novel, and that isn't the case, thank god. She is eventually rescued by her grandmother and taken somewhere safe and stable. But that time spent on her own? Using her birthday money to buy Spaghetti-Os and a pet fish for company? Broke my heart. The whole thing did.
As the reader, you aren't told straightaway all the details of how Aubrey is left on her own, instead the story is drawn out a bit and you can piece it together through some of Aubrey's flashbacks of life before and through her letters. When she goes to live with her grandmother, things are a bit difficult for everyone. Aubrey struggles to adjust with her new life, the different relationship with her grandmother. She's feeling angry at her mother, grief at the loss of her father and little sister. You can see how hard it is for her to trust again and the deep depression she Aubrey is in, as she doesn't want to get out of bed or just sits and watches television and avoiding any conversations where she might have to feel or remember.
Eventually though, with the help of a new best friend, a guidance counsellor and her grandmother, Aubrey is able to fight her way to back to some semblance of a normal 11 year old girl who goes sledding in the snow and has pizza parties on her birthday instead of worrying about her loved ones abandoning her and how she'll cope.
Love, Aubrey could have been more heavy-handed with the emotional issues, but despite how it sounds, it really isn't. In some parts, mostly at the beginning, it's like we're really seeing things from Aubrey's perspective as she tries to detach herself from feeling so much so that it all doesn't overwhelm her. But gradually, Aubrey is able to let out a little of what she's feeling and when that happens? Be ready to get walloped by the strong emotions. Keep tissues handy. (less)
Life as We Knew It is a post-apocalyptic YA novel and is entirely journal entries of 16 year old Miranda. At the beginning, we are introduced to Miran...moreLife as We Knew It is a post-apocalyptic YA novel and is entirely journal entries of 16 year old Miranda. At the beginning, we are introduced to Miranda's rather normal-sounding life. Her older brother is away at university. Her parents are divorced and her father and new step-mother are expecting a child. Her little brother is mad about baseball. Miranda is heavily interested in keeping up with the gossip of a particular male ice-skater and is keen to get back into ice skating herself. But soon, everything begins to change, as the news reports that an asteroid is on a collision course for the moon.
When this happens, everything slowly begins to change. Luckily, Miranda's mother has the foresight to see how things might be different and stocks up on the neccesitites. Tsunamis and earthquakes and volcanoes begin to destroy things that most people take for granted. Food and water is scarce. Electricity and heating. It's the start of a very different world as Miranda and her family must change in order to survive. It's a very chilling thing to think about. I couldn't help but wonder as I was reading it, 'how would I survive? What if it happened to me and my family?'
I loved seeing the transformation of Miranda and her family and friends as they dealt with this situation in very different ways. From the immature 'why has this happened to me' whining, to the sacrifices in terms of food, to the different ways in which each character held on to their hope. Miranda and her family don't have it easy, but they were able to really come together as a family and that always makes me a little sad. I finished this novel on the train, as I couldn't bear to stop reading it, and luckily the person next to me was kind enough to ignore my steady flow of tears.
I cannot wait to find out how everything turns out in the next two books in the series, The Dead and the Gone and This World We Live In! I need to know what happens to Miranda and her family!(less)
I really can't remember how or why I decided that this is a book I should read? Perhaps I read reviews of it recently? I don't remember. On a whim, I...moreI really can't remember how or why I decided that this is a book I should read? Perhaps I read reviews of it recently? I don't remember. On a whim, I decided to choose a random book off my shelves to read and my hand landed on this one. I knew from the outset that it was a book with a very inappropriate relationship between a 14 year old girl and a 27 year old man and that I would struggle with reading about such a thing, but I found that I struggled with a lot more than that as well. This isn't a book that I enjoyed very much and I'd have a hard time recommending it. Perhaps it's saying something about society? I'm really not sure. If it is, I'm not smart enough to pick up on it.
The main character of this book is 14, she isn't treated very well in school. In fact, as a way of fitting into a crowd of kids that don't really accept her, she allows herself to be felt up and kissed by some of the boys. This leads to an abusive and controlling relationship with another boy. Which in turns leads to the relationship with the older man. At the same time, she's dealing with an embarassing friendship with a very needy girl and how to balance that out with her 'cool group of friends.'
You can also see how that her relationship with her parents is very central to the story. Her parents argue a lot, she gets stuck in the middle. Her father seems very domineering and controlling as well as belittling to both our main character and to his wife. It isn't pleasant reading at all. Everything about the book sort of drips with unpleasantness from her sexual partners, her friendships, her parents.
The part where I nearly gave up the book is when she tells both parents about her new boyfriend. And that's he's 27. The way in which her parents are accepting of this and seem to have little concern over this fact is very troubling. Perhaps that's the point of the novel? To shock readers with all of the issues in the book? I don't know. It didn't quite work for me.(less)
Ellen Hopkins is one of those authors who I hear nothing but good things. But Impulse really intimidated me before I picked it up. I really love verse...more Ellen Hopkins is one of those authors who I hear nothing but good things. But Impulse really intimidated me before I picked it up. I really love verse novels, but a 600+ verse novel? With three different perspectives? About teen suicide? I'll be honest and say that Impulse stayed on my shelf for many a month before I decided to give it a chance. And now that I've read it, I don't know what I was worrying about. The three voices are strong and different enough to be identifiable from each other and their stories made my heart break and I sympathised with each of the characters.
Impulse is the story of three teenagers who have attempted suicide and live. They are sent to a psychiatric hospital, where they struggle through recovery, forming a bond between the three of them. They each deal with their own reasons for being there, with different levels of therapy and the system. They are constantly monitored and medicated. They come to rely on and depend on each other as their stories slowly unravel and secrets are revealed...
I find each of the three main characters to be utterly relateable. They're very flawed obviously, but you can see the vulnerability of each of them, as they all want a stable environment to live in and to have stable healthy relationships with other people as well with those who care for them. They have such horrific life experiences and truly awful relationships with parental figures, that I constantly wondered, 'if I was put in their shoes, would I have ended up any differently?'
Conner struggles with the neverending pressure of being perfect. Getting the best grades, getting into the best universities, making the varsity football team, looking the part. All to please his superficial parents who can never find Conner 'good enough'.
Tony has been through the juvenile delinquent centre after committing a terrible crime, and was homeless when he swallowed the pills. His mother never quite around to help him as he suffered abuse after abuse.
And Vanessa's story hit home the most for me. Her need to self-harm, especially as it coincided with hidden mental health issues felt all too familiar. Her father away in Afghanistan, her mother teetering on the edge of something very serious. And to make it through, Vanessa turns to the blade, only that last cut went a little too deep...
It's been really difficult writing this review without using the word 'powerful' but it definitely applies to Impulse. It feels gritty and real and doesn't shy away from really awful topics. Suicide. Sexual abuse. Self harm. Depression. Aspen Springs is no picnic and a lot of really strong emotions and issues are dredged up.
It's not for the faint of heart, but Impulse is a verse novel worth reading. (less)
Phew. What a ride this book is! Almost True is the sequel to When I Was Joe by Keren David which was one of my favourite books that I've read all year...morePhew. What a ride this book is! Almost True is the sequel to When I Was Joe by Keren David which was one of my favourite books that I've read all year. I was absolutely beside myself with excitement to recieve a copy and I started it right away - abandoning the other book I had been reading. It was worth it.
Almost True continues with Ty's story. His mum and him have been living in another town under different names and still hiding from the people who are trying to kill Ty because of what he witnessed. ..Only instead of Ty, someone else is shot. So now, Ty is sent somewhere very different and is able to explore another aspect of his identity, one that has life-changing results.
In When I Was Joe I found that was able to be quite funny and charming at times, and in Almost True it feels as though so much has been weighing on him, with his separation from Claire, the guilt for the things that he's done and the knowledge that other people in his life are getting hurt because of what he's put them through has changed him. The tone of this novel is very different. It feels more serious and grown-up. But there is a dog and a new friend for Ty who do lighten up the mood some.
There's a real importance in Almost True to being honest and of the truth. The seriousness and the consequences of knife crime. And lots and lots of making mistakes. Ty messes up pretty badly with the choices that he makes and what's great is that Keren David shows us, too, that everyone important in Ty's life has made some really terrible mistakes as well. And that's OK. Because even though it's a tough road to go down, they've each taken responsibility and were able to move on and have decent enough lives. It's a wonderful message to give to readers and one that isn't said in a heavy-handed way at all.
It's a really exciting read, this one. The story is constantly moving forward and so many new things are learned about Ty and the things that have happened in his past. I did sometimes want to reach into my book and shake Ty for making some of the choices that he does, but his voice and personality are just so likeable that I can't help caring for him as well. So much so that towards the end I had to put my book down and take a little break because my heart absolutely ached for Ty. Everything feels so authentic that it's hard to believe that these characters are fictional.
What are you waiting for? You really must read When I Was Joe and Almost True! Highly recommended. (less)