The format of writing a novel in verse is no longer novel, but it is used to great effect in this book. Penny tells her story in more than her words,The format of writing a novel in verse is no longer novel, but it is used to great effect in this book. Penny tells her story in more than her words, in her thoughts and feelings. These same feelings that are hard for a teenage girl to express in narrative, come alive in unstructured verse.
Penny's older sister Tara, is who Penny both yearns to be, and is afraid of becoming - because her mother was seemingly as wild as Tara, and left when Penny was four. Her father gets remarried to a vegan with a young son, and trying to create a new blended family when for so long it was just the three of them, finally pushes Penny into trying out some of her own wildness - only to discover that this 'small town, small town' is right where she wants to be....more
My favorite part about this book is that 90 percent is simply a love story between two teenagers. Liza and Annie are both very different people, fromMy favorite part about this book is that 90 percent is simply a love story between two teenagers. Liza and Annie are both very different people, from Annie’s love of plants and music to Liza’s passion for architecture. But they find they have lots of things in common, such as cats, and their interests contrast nicely, drawing them closer to together. They are friends who gradually realize there is more between them than friendship, and fairly soon their only problem is finding a place where they can ‘be alone together’. Well, not their only problem. Their other worry is hiding their relationship form their parents, because they are both girls. That and the ending – when they get found out – makes up the other 10 percent of the book. I did think Mrs. Poindexter was too much a caricature of the bigoted bad guy, but the fact that she started so many balls rolling against Liza and Annie, and Ms. Stevenson and Ms. Widmer, is a good example of how ‘mob mentality’ can quickly throw things out of proportion and cause people to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily. She did seem to want to rule Foster with an iron fist, and that at least was believable, since she used a subtle ‘velvet glove’ to enforce her edicts. I also liked how Liza, even though she ran scared at first when she went off to college, quickly realized what she’d be giving up by letting Annie go. Not all painful lessons have to end unhappily, and I love that she finally got the courage to call. ...more
Though this book is meant for juvenile audiences, I believe many adults could enjoy it as much as I did. Well, almost - I *adore* this book. The storyThough this book is meant for juvenile audiences, I believe many adults could enjoy it as much as I did. Well, almost - I *adore* this book. The storyline works perfectly with the format, which is not quite a graphic novel, but far more than a picture book. Each section of narrative is interspersed with a series of pictures that work as mini-movies, in flipbook style. This ties in directly with Georges Melies former movie-making career, and helps bring the secret of the automaton full circle.
I believe children or adults of any age could enjoy this book for what it is: wonderful, engaging, magically and mysterious. Don't be put off by the large page count; at least 2/3s of this book is in pictures. But don't rush past the pictures, either, because they tell a story all their own....more
The Canning Season is a wonderfully understated book. With quick, sharp humor, and a near-absence of intrusive modern technology, Horvath tells a storThe Canning Season is a wonderfully understated book. With quick, sharp humor, and a near-absence of intrusive modern technology, Horvath tells a story of two girls' coming of age, intertwined with life, death, and the making a family that hinges less on biology and more on love. It may be difficult at first to comprehend Tilly and Penpen's at times off-the-wall behavior, but anyone with elderly relatives should be familiar with how things said don't always quite make sense.
When Rachet comes to stay with her great-aunts in Maine, she has no idea what to expect - but what she finds is the family she has been unknowingly yearning for her whole life. Despite bears in the woods, a near-complete lack of electricity, and several weeks of non-stop blueberry canning, Rachet finds time to consider her life and what she wants from it. And when she makes her decision regarding her future, she has taken her first step into adulthood....more
This book is about life changes. Liam becomes Luna; accepts that this is the time and place to start ‘her’ transformation and build her chrysalis. RegThis book is about life changes. Liam becomes Luna; accepts that this is the time and place to start ‘her’ transformation and build her chrysalis. Regan also comes to terms with losing her brother, yet gaining a sister, and living her life free from the lies that both she and Liam have had to tell to keep Luna secret from their parents and friends.
Luna’s gradual coming out is akin to a butterfly or moth emerging from its cocoon; it is a process that is important in and of itself, and cannot be rushed. The amount of time each day Luna spends dressed as a woman can also be seen as an allegory for night turning into day – midnight, dawn, and full noon – or as a full cycle of the phases of the moon. When Luna finally takes the day back from Liam, even as Regan is trying to build a life for herself apart from keeping Luna’s secrets, you will cheer. When Luna sets off for the airport at the end fully dressed (though she has to change into male clothes in order to be let on the plane; but she does not let that deter her, showing her commitment and dedication to her decision), on her way to start living as a woman for a year to fulfill Benjamin SOC (Standards of Care), you will cry.
But this story is not just about Luna. It is about Regan too, showing a side of transgender people not often discussed in fiction – their families. Regan is only able to build a life of her once Luna is not there, but despite all the problems she encounters in her life because of keeping Luna’s secrets, she still finds it hard to say goodbye to her sister. Anyone who has a close bond with a sibling who leaves for any reason will find themselves identifying with Regan. And anyone who has every had any questions about their own gender, sex, sexual orientation, or just teenage life in general, will find matching confusion in Luna’s ‘unusual’ struggles, or in Regan’s ‘ordinary’ life. ...more
This story suffered from a few faults: too much show, not enough tell; too much dialogue, not enough narrative; all the talk about religion was a bitThis story suffered from a few faults: too much show, not enough tell; too much dialogue, not enough narrative; all the talk about religion was a bit heavy-handed; the characters definitely fell into stereotypical teenager girl behavior a bit too much; a lot of name-dropping of various TV shows and magazines.
BUT, there were quite a few things to like about it too. There are some Arabic words, but not too many, and they are understandable from context. Amal’s choice to wear the hjiab and how she deals with people’s reactions was well done. I love how she stuck to her beliefs – especially about her choice to refrain from romantic relationships. Her relationship with her parents rings true. Her animosity towards, and subsequent resolving thereof, with Mrs. Vaselli, and the conversations they have, is my favorite part of the book – that and what happens with Amal’s friend Leila and how it finally gets resolved. ...more
What does it mean to be human? How much of ourselves can we lose before we are not ourselves anymore?
These questions are what Jenna must ask herself wWhat does it mean to be human? How much of ourselves can we lose before we are not ourselves anymore?
These questions are what Jenna must ask herself when she discovers she is not who she thought she was. They are questions people ask even now, when they have multiple organ transplants, often from different people. They are questions the political climate is concerned with in Jenna’s future, now that Bio Gel can replace so much of a body’s functions – and now that medicine has gone far beyond cloning bodies.
Jenna is the same as any teenager in that she is trying to discover who she is. But unlike many teenagers, her family has a template for who she used to be, and is constantly trying to make her fit that mold once more. Fighting to be who you are against your parents’ expectations is nothing new, but adding in that illegal means were used to save Jenna’s lives, and that those very means themselves are the center of Jenna’s conflict of identity, and it is understandable that Jenna feels lost.
Jenna struggles not only with questions of who she is, but does who she used be affect who she is now? She remembers things about her former life she never did before, such as her baptism, but do these memories make her a new person, a new version of her old self (Jenna 2.0), or just as much her old self as she was before? And which one does she want to be?
The Adoration of Jenna Fox is not written entirely in verse, though there are many poems interspersed through the text. As Jenna ‘recovers’ from the accident that claimed her original life, these poems reveal the raw emotions she has not yet remembered the words to express.
Jenna is not who she was. But that does not mean who she is, is not human, or a real person. ...more
Street Love is exactly what it proclaims to be - a novel in poems, about love 'on the street'. But that is not all it is: it is a love story, a life sStreet Love is exactly what it proclaims to be - a novel in poems, about love 'on the street'. But that is not all it is: it is a love story, a life story, and above all, a *good* story.
The use of street slang in the dialogue poems can be off-putting at first. It makes for cumbersome conversations, and if read out loud doesn’t sound anything like how someone would talk. But if you look beyond those awkward poems, the narrative verses are rich with veiled meaning. Damian and Junice are from different walks of life, though they go to the same school. Damien’s fascination with and confusion caused by Junice’s aloof persona comes through clearly in his stilted verses. Junice’s anger at her mother’s imprisonment, leaving her in charge of their household, hiding her grandmother’s senility from Family services, the stress of a life lived from welfare payment to welfare payment, is equally loud in her choppy, yet lyrical words. “I am Street. / My needs are fierce. I am hungry / and my teeth are sharp.”
While some might deem the ending unrealistic or too prosaic, the hope is very true to the story – and the uncertainty is true to reality. Damian has the best of intentions, and so does Junice. We the readers are left to puzzle whether or not those intentions will see through the trials to come – because, while the book ends, their story certainly does not. Maybe they’ll make it, and maybe they won’t. But their story is a story of taking chances. ...more