I love this premise; emotionally damaged kids surviving their loss at a tucked-away Vermont boarding school. The teacher who encourages them to journaI love this premise; emotionally damaged kids surviving their loss at a tucked-away Vermont boarding school. The teacher who encourages them to journal while reading Sylvia Plath; it's like gateway reading to The Bell Jar, which is one of my favorite books.
My issue is, I read The Bell Jar at fifteen, which is quite a bit more complex than what we have here. Not to say you cannot have lighter, less complex YA--I love those too--but given the weight of what these characters were dealing with, the depth of how the story explored these issues is what I saw as missed opportunities. Even a few storytelling misses; when Jam's roommate is known to have "food issues," and one of Jam's most prized possessions is a jar of English fruit spread from her deceased boyfriend, I expected this to end in some unfortunate binging situation. It sort of goes there, but feels very glossed over.
Wolitzer is a wonderful writer, with a number of adult market books of note. I wanted to 5 star this book in the first chapter. Something about the overall execution knocked this down a bit for me, and maybe it was my own inflated expectations. I would definitely recommend this for teen readers though; it may be my more critical eye that lessened the storytelling for me. ...more
I am not huge on dystopian world YA novels. I loved The Hunger Games and Legend. Divergent was OK, and I saw The Maze Runner movie (so you can see myI am not huge on dystopian world YA novels. I loved The Hunger Games and Legend. Divergent was OK, and I saw The Maze Runner movie (so you can see my investment waning).
Not a Drop to Drink scales the focus way, way back from governments and factions to one girl and her mother, who live off the grid and spend virtually every waking moment defending their freshwater pond, as water is scarce. Sixteen-year-old Lynn has known nothing else other than her remote farm, her mother, and a nearby neighbor they are on cautiously friendly terms.
Until Lynn loses her mother (not a spoiler, it happens early), and she is on her own. When people camping nearby need medical attention, Lynn and her neighbor go to help. Only Lynn has been taught not to trust anyone. Even leaving her pond for an hour sets the tension high. Distant smoke sets off alarm bells, and stories of men traveling in packs to steal and destroy cause Lynn to further distrust. Every page there is survival, fear, and determination, and Lynn's struggle between her new found compassion for others and the strict teachings of her mother provide a boatload of tension.
Warning here: there are some intense scenes in this book, and I will state right out that while there is a romantic thread, this is not a romance. While there is a hopeful ending, this is not a happy shiny rainbows type of book. If you're cool with that, I wholly recommend this book for showing the emotional impact of a post-apocalyptic world-gone-wrong, and one where you don't need to roll your eyes at forced world building. The fears built up in this world are human nature at its core, and that's compelling enough when it's written this well....more
This resource includes some great plotting exercises for those of us who need a more creative approach to outlining and plot mapping. Lots of practicaThis resource includes some great plotting exercises for those of us who need a more creative approach to outlining and plot mapping. Lots of practical advice with specifics geared toward kidlit spanning from picture books to YA.
The one fault I think is noteworthy is repetition of ideas and concepts. This is a collection of lectures, speeches, and blog posts, and some of the points are repeated, sometimes even three times. This leads to skimming, which is never a good thing for an author. Overall, the good outweighs the odd organization. ...more
This book has everything: Hollywood, teen TV dramas, prom, and deeper family issues. Ally's childhood best friend Vanessa is in the Hollywood spotlighThis book has everything: Hollywood, teen TV dramas, prom, and deeper family issues. Ally's childhood best friend Vanessa is in the Hollywood spotlight, having just been recruited as the lead for a hot new teen soap (think The Vampire Diaries or The O.C. ). Ally, a top student, may need to sacrifice her Ivy League college dreams after her dad's melanoma diagnosis turns fatal. She picks up a job as her friend's personal assistant where she meets and falls for Vanessa's costar, Liam.
The balance of Hollywood vs. real life felt so realistic here. Seeing, literally, behind the scenes of a TV production with the publicists and paparazzi and the press who skews the truth, makes that whole side of life seem far less glamorous. Ally is a great character because she's loyal to Vanessa, not a TV show. Liam has a great backstory, and his relationship with Ally, with his costars, and his own family are explored and played off of Ally's experience. Lots of conflict that felt realistic despite being set among celebrities and the TV/movie scene.
I recommend this for fans Sarah Dessen and Morgan Matson. A great summer read with that touch of depth to provide a really engaging read. ...more
More summery YA contemporaries! Cricket vows to have a great summer with her best friend Jules on Nantucket island, a place she's yet to go herself thMore summery YA contemporaries! Cricket vows to have a great summer with her best friend Jules on Nantucket island, a place she's yet to go herself though Jules spends every summer there. But when Jules' family befalls tragedy, plans change. Jules' family decides to spend a quiet summer on the island without her. Cricket is deeply affected given spending time with Jules' family beats solving her own family's issues--a lonely mom and dad who's moved on to a new family. Cricket knows Jules needs her, so she finds summer work on the island, and shows up to surprise Jules.
The flavor of elite vacationers in Nantucket serves as a theme for Cricket's experience. Class issues are explored, as well as family loyalties, and self preservation. Cricket finds her family's hurts follow her to the island, as does Jules'. Cricket's other motivation for a Nantucket summer relates to a boy she knows back home who is also there for summer. But, love has other plans for her....
This is a solid summer contemporary, and a second book Nantucket Red is also available. ...more
If you like the New Adult genre, this is a good read; maybe more like a 3.5 or 4 if you're really into this genre. The book is short, though that mighIf you like the New Adult genre, this is a good read; maybe more like a 3.5 or 4 if you're really into this genre. The book is short, though that might also go with the NA territory. ...more