A funny, slice-of-life story of a Korean girl who becomes an accidental columnist for her school's newspaper. It's diverse without diversity become an...moreA funny, slice-of-life story of a Korean girl who becomes an accidental columnist for her school's newspaper. It's diverse without diversity become an issue (that's just how it is!) and is a perfect read for younger, as well as older, YA readers. Those who liked the humor in Amy Spalding's books will appreciate this one. (less)
This poetry collection is AWESOME. But what makes it even more excellent, aside from the content (these are feminist fairy tales), is that this is a m...moreThis poetry collection is AWESOME. But what makes it even more excellent, aside from the content (these are feminist fairy tales), is that this is a mixed media work. There are really intriguing photos to accompany the poems.
I read an advanced copy and need to pick this up in final form to see the photos at their best.
I liked, but did not love, this one. I liked the exploration of the magic, alluring family which falls apart. I love the way Abbott looks at girls and...moreI liked, but did not love, this one. I liked the exploration of the magic, alluring family which falls apart. I love the way Abbott looks at girls and budding sexuality and knowledge of girlhood, of false promises associated with girlhood, with knowledge of one's budding sexuality wrapped with the naivety of what it can do. The holdbacks for me were that it was a little slow and the reveals a little too spare for my tastes. I dug how they were done, how careful Lizzie was in sharing what she had, but I thought especially at the end, Dusty's explanations could have been woven a little better within the story.
Gorgeous art. I dug the story but I think it's one that adult readers will like and "get" more than teens. Not that teens won't get it. . . but this i...moreGorgeous art. I dug the story but I think it's one that adult readers will like and "get" more than teens. Not that teens won't get it. . . but this is much more nostalgic about the illusion-shattering that comes when you grow up than it is about the events happening in-the-moment. It's overly conscious of what it's doing, rather than allowing the girls in the story to do the doing.
Sib begins the wilderness term with her classmates, best friends still with Holly and on the brink of a relationship with Ben, who she kissed at a par...moreSib begins the wilderness term with her classmates, best friends still with Holly and on the brink of a relationship with Ben, who she kissed at a party. Sib's gotten a lot of attention lately, thanks to her face being plastered on a billboard. It was a modeling gig she did for a little cash, on the suggestion of her aunt. This stint with "fame" changed how her classmates -- and her best friend -- she and interact with her, even if it doesn't change her in the least.
Lou is the new girl, tossed into this wilderness term without any immersion with these peers prior. She's grieving, deeply grieving, and she's private about what she's going through. She's not ready to open up, and even when pushed to the brink, she won't.
Until she does with Michael.
And it's through her relationship and opening up with Michael that she begins to forge a relationship with Sib and helps Sib realize that people like Holly are energy saps. . . not best friend material. That people like Holly are the reason that Sib may become hurtful herself.
Wildlife is an excellent little book about friendships and peer relationships, as well as about sexuality. Wood USES THE WORDS to describe what goes on in sexual experiences, through the voices of Sib and Lou, and it never comes off clinical nor does it come off as being too technical for how a teen girl might think. Even though Sib may not be happy with the choices she makes, she empowers herself with the ability to make those choices. (view spoiler)[ And the scene where Sib talks about how sex DID NOT HURT with Ben because she'd educated herself with how her body works and feels was so nice to read and see because it's such a rarity in YA. Usually, the girl is scared, worried, and fearful of what her body can and does do. I think this is the kind of scene many teen girls NEED to read because it offers an alternative to the all-too-common narratives of fear and shame. (hide spoiler)]
This is a story about coming into yourself and acting and reacting for yourself, rather than putting on a face or a performance for those around you.
I read the Australian edition, but I've been assured that, aside from some language that may be unfamiliar (and there was quite a bit), the story won't change in the US edition when it comes out this fall. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This is a perfect mystery/thriller for those who like unlikable girl leads, as well as those who like their characters unreliable, biting, tough,...more4.5.
This is a perfect mystery/thriller for those who like unlikable girl leads, as well as those who like their characters unreliable, biting, tough, and unrelenting. This is the perfect book for readers looking for a bisexual main character and struggles with not accepting this for herself but being open about it -- though it's not the thrust of the story. Also this is such a fantastic story for those who are eager to see a girl struggling with her addiction and who finds a way to keep herself working through it. Also? This girl doesn't follow the traditional high school then on the college path.
But there's so much more here. It's a story about how people will go to the ends of the Earth to hide the truth from those who seek it. It's a story about one girl who died because of someone's choice to protect reputation than own poor (illegal) choices. It's a story fraught with desperation, rapidly paced, and well-developed with multiple time lines that all come together in a way that's not expected -- and yet, not surprising.
More books like this please. It's complex, layered, and completely satisfying.
Longer review to come. This would be a fascinating book to pair with Brandy Colbert's POINTE and it's impossible not to see how fans of Veronica Mars would eat this up.
The story of two crass, abrasive best girl friends? Sign me up.
Alex's dad died in a car wreck, and her best friend Becca slept with Alex's boyfriend....moreThe story of two crass, abrasive best girl friends? Sign me up.
Alex's dad died in a car wreck, and her best friend Becca slept with Alex's boyfriend. Alex needs a break from her friend to process all of the collisions going on in her life simultaneously, and she takes that break over the summer.
But when she returns to school, she gets the memo Becca's been diagnosed with cancer. Immediately horrified, Alex turns back to Becca, hoping they can continue the friendship they one had.
And they can.
Becca opens up about being diagnosed and what the course of treatment looks like, but more than that, she's eager to have Alex fulfill a bucket list (which they lovingly rename a fuck it list) that she's been building over the course of her life. If Becca can't indulge in those things because her life might be in jeopardy, than Alex should do it. This is darkly humorous, of course. Becca's sick, but she's not under the belief she's really going to die, and Alex isn't clouding her thoughts with it too. It comes up, and she grieves as she needs to to protect herself and work through the already massive loss she's experienced, but Alex agrees to the f-it list because she loves Becca and can do this list of things for her.
Through the course of completing the f-it list, she strengthens her friendship with Becca, finds an incredibly thoughtful, supportive, and real boyfriend, and connects to the things inside her she's forgotten about.
Alex is CRASS. Alex is ABRASIVE. And Alex and Becca are both hilarious. They're unashamed of themselves, of their lives, of their bodies, and of their interest in talking about and experiencing a variety levels of sexual interaction. Becca's f-it list includes items like masturbating, having sex with someone you love, making out, and more. Neither girl shies away from talking about these things nor enjoying them. And it's not that their careless jerks; it's that for Alex, it's a way to learn about herself and to "do something" for Becca. For Becca, it's about living and giving life to her best friend who, despite not being the one enduring chemo, has been there through thick and thin and who herself has been dealt an unfair hand of cards.
The story is never about fulfilling the list. It's about what that list is to the two girls as individuals and to them as best friends.
Alex is compelling and tough. She's got an exterior that's razor sharp, but as she works through the list and as she begins a relationship with Leo, we as readers see she's a softy inside. There's an excellent interaction near the end of the book where Alex allows herself to see this too -- thanks to her mother, who reminds her that even if she's not the one going through cancer, even if she's not the one who has been in a car wreck, that she's allowed to feel and experience the things she needs to to heal and deal. That's when her soft parts meet her hard parts and it's clear she's not one or the other. She's complex and dynamic.
This book is funny. There are times it is laugh-out-loud funny. I appreciated how the idea of the cancer victim being a character who is there to teach lessons and there to change perspectives is really CALLED OUT here, and we see that that idea is spun as darkly humorous. It's not belittling the disease in the least; instead, it's a perspective so rare to see in these kinds of books. (view spoiler)[ Becca's not going to die, and while she's sick -- and that's NOT avoided here -- Becca is still Becca and Alex is still Alex, and that's what they keep reminding themselves and one another. Being yourself and living your life matters, however you choose to do it. This is a bump in the road you deal with and work through. (hide spoiler)]
As mentioned, sex is a big topic here, and Halpern does not go lightly. Alex loves sex. Alex engages in sex -- both by herself and with Leo. She's open and upfront about what's going on and there's not fade-to-black here. But further, it's clear their sex is on both of their terms, and that when either of them says no, that's when things stop. Consent goes both ways here. Likewise, I read a trade review of this book that says there's never discussion of protection here (and it's worded in such a way that it suggests the GIRLS are to blame about it -- again, professional trade review, not a reader review). Actually, it comes up in two distinct places. I think from there it's clear that protection is in mind and that any further dwelling on the issue would take the sex scenes away from Alex and her experiences (which are So Rare to see spelled out in YA as openly as they are here anyway) and instead turn them into Messages About The Importance Of Using Condoms Or Other Forms Of Birth Control. You know she's taking care of that business. It doesn't need to be spelled out.
Also, Leo isn't a TOOL for Alex. He pushes back when it's necessary.
I loved Alex's whole arc in the story, and I loved her relationship with Becca. This is a refreshing look at the hows and wheres of friendship between two girls who, as it appears in the reviews, aren't particularly "likable."
Maybe not likable, but it's raw and honest and FUNNY. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This really didn't work for me, and I think it's because the verse didn't lend itself to the story needing to be told here. Daisy's voice is inconsist...moreThis really didn't work for me, and I think it's because the verse didn't lend itself to the story needing to be told here. Daisy's voice is inconsistent and her desires and drive are unclear until half way through, and then they flop over again. It primarily relates to the relationship she does(n't) have with her brother.
I didn't find the relationships interesting or fully-fleshed, and I felt like some characters here were stock and frustratingly so (Ashleigh, for example, is just the mean girl but...why?). Daisy's voice reads very young for being 17, and her interactions read very young, too, until she learns a lesson that she shares and she suddenly sounds much, much older than 17.
The Cal storyline baffled me quite a bit, and I think the verse is to blame for his accent coming across as cheesy, rather than authentic. (less)
Althea is a fighter and Oliver is not. Except, when Althea fights it's for her feelings and Oliver can't requite them. They've been best friends...more3.5.
Althea is a fighter and Oliver is not. Except, when Althea fights it's for her feelings and Oliver can't requite them. They've been best friends for years -- for a decade and some change -- but Oliver doesn't want more and Althea does. For all she pushes, the more he pulls away.
Which is convenient when he begins suffering with a sleeping disorder and is out for weeks at a time. In one of his more lucid moments, Althea (view spoiler)[ and Oliver sleep together, and whether or not it's sleeping together by choice or by force is up for question and . . . it's not (hide spoiler)]. Another period when Oliver awakes, the same thing happens but it's still not becoming what Althea wants it to become, so she goes and tries to make something become what it is she wants with Oliver.
But she can't. She just can't.
When Oliver chooses to participate in a lengthy study for his illness in New York City, he leaves without telling Althea. Because he's angry at her for what happened and he just can't see her. He needs to cut the cord clean. Of course, this won't work for Althea, who finds a way to head to New York City herself and seek him out. But the closer she gets the further away from him she falls. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, they tear further apart.
And Althea has to find a way to make it on her own now, especially as she's been expelled from school and is, presumably, not on her father's best side.
Althea & Oliver is a gritty, grungy novel about best friends who are in a moment of flux in their relationship. Oliver wants more, and Althea wants more, but their wantings of more are different -- Althea wants Oliver all to herself. She wants him wholly and romantically. Oliver wants to break free, to experiment, to get out and about and see the world. He (view spoiler)[ does not reciprocate Althea's feelings and watching the unrequited love is painful, hard, and honest -- not just to the characters, not just to their relationship, but to adolescence more broadly. It is refreshing to read a story where one character can want and want and want and simply NOT GET. (hide spoiler)]
The arcs of both characters are fascinating. Both Althea and Oliver have to make personal decisions about their futures, but their trajectories are so different, so divergent, it's obvious to readers, even if not to them, that something is amiss in their own relationship. Oliver has to make decisions about his physical health while Althea has to make hers about her emotional well-being. Both need to find their "places," and despite how much they've grown to love and cherish what they are to one another as friends, it might be that friendship which keeps them in a place where they can't make such decisions for themselves.
In the end, things work out exactly as they should. (view spoiler)[ Althea and Oliver do not end up together and Althea comes to discover taking a leap, rather than back sliding, is a rush and worthwhile, even if it's scary or sometimes breaks the rules. (hide spoiler)]
Set in the late 1990s gritty New York City/Brooklyn world, this will appeal to teen readers who often don't see themselves in fiction. These characters have a lot of freedom, but they're also broke and dirty and raw and rough around the edges. They party -- and that's a big part of the story and a big part of HOW these characters figure themselves out. This is literary YA about two friends who want and desire but those driving forces aren't pushing them towards one another; they're pushing them apart. In many ways, I think this is the kind of book adults will cherish more than adults, as they can look back and identify the choices that they made when they were in Oliver or in Althea's place.
There's an excellent set of lines Althea has that I think cover what's at the heart of the story: there's a moment when she's Althea now and a moment when she thinks she'll wake up outside this box and everything will make perfect sense. What she misses in this is the GETTING THERE part of getting outside the box. It's not about the destination but about the journey to getting there. It's the "coming" part of "coming of age."
This is a smart little book.
Longer review to come. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I gave this 50 solid pages before giving up. I didn't realize how much it was steeped in religious story and metaphor, and while the small town southe...moreI gave this 50 solid pages before giving up. I didn't realize how much it was steeped in religious story and metaphor, and while the small town southern setting was itself haunting, the story didn't do anything for those first fifty pages. It's a short book -- just over 200 pages -- and since I had no investment in the characters and the plot wasn't capturing me, it was time to move on.
An enjoyable enough realistic thriller -- not dystopian -- novel about a cult and that cult's destructive leader. It's fast paced and sucks you in...more2.5.
An enjoyable enough realistic thriller -- not dystopian -- novel about a cult and that cult's destructive leader. It's fast paced and sucks you in immediately. However, the holes are giant, the world building less-than-impressive, and once you begin to think about some of the ways the cult works (or doesn't), the book itself falls apart. Lyla is pretty unmemorable herself, and I didn't for a second buy the romance and budding relationship with Cody that emerges simply after they met for the first time. If the brain washing, cult mentality had once been plausibly rendered, it would have shown itself here on some level.
All that said, teen readers who want a story about a cult will eat this up. I think teens would be way more forgiving of the problems than me, simply because they haven't read as many books of this ilk or seen as many of the news stories as I have.
Longer review to come. This is a stand alone novel that does have a sequel coming out, but the sequel certainly isn't a requirement to enjoy the story here. (less)
Enjoyable enough -- this is lighter fare, "chick lit," if that's a term that doesn't make you bristle. Think Rom Com in print.
I found Georgie pretty...moreEnjoyable enough -- this is lighter fare, "chick lit," if that's a term that doesn't make you bristle. Think Rom Com in print.
I found Georgie pretty unbearable, actually, and found myself wanting to hear Neal's story far more than her's. Since this is a story about a marriage on the brink, I had a hard time connecting or relating, and I found the insights and "ah ha" moments Georgie had not as impacting as they could have been were I able to relate in some capacity.
I wouldn't say there's a lot of crossover appeal here. Some teens who like Rowell's YA will enjoy this, but it's not going to be a huge audience. I think a lot of it has to do with life experience -- not so much that teen readers won't get it, but more than maybe it's not as easy to appreciate.
The magic phone though. (view spoiler)[ Georgie is hallucinating, right? This is all her having flashbacks as she sinks into whatever it is she's sinking into...anxiety or anxiety-fueled depression. I mean I GET that the phone is ~magical~ and that the ~magic~ in the story is meant to be just that, ~magic~ (I mean along with that whole magical snow globe reuniting scene at the end) but there's definitely something much more troubling going in with Georgie mentally. (hide spoiler)] Also I'm surprised Seth hadn't dropped her because what a terrible coworker she is, too. (view spoiler)[ I mean she skips going to her in-laws with her family for Christmas to work on this show and then she doesn't even work on the show. The men in Rowell's stories have a hell of a lot of patience. Seth is kinda like Levi in Fangirl, much like Georgie is kinda like the grownup version of Cath. (hide spoiler)]