Rich Wallace does an excellent job of writing short novels about athletes who are more than their sport. Like One Good Punch, "Dishes" centers on a ru...moreRich Wallace does an excellent job of writing short novels about athletes who are more than their sport. Like One Good Punch, "Dishes" centers on a runner who has some job issues, girl issues, and family issues. I liked "One Good Punch" for the realism, the honesty about drug use and its consequences, the realism of the relationships between major and minor characters. There's more of the same here: this time the hero's a year past high school and washing dishes for the summer at a gay bar. Hi-jinx ensue, as Danny sorts out his feelings for his Dad who was never around growing up and his VERY friendly co-workers.
Set in Ogunquit, a beach town near Kenebunkport but worlds away, Wallace captures the confusion and energy of the first steps of adulthood. Not enough books for teens take on this important transition from school-aged to whatever-comes-next. The uneasy father-son detente reads well, if a bit simplistically. I especially enjoy that all of the characters have jobs and must work, another rare breed among YA titles.
"Dishes" handles the static and friction that occurs when different types of people must learn to co-exist, in this case gay and straight waiters and dishwashers. Well worth reading for the right audience.(less)
This book is a lot of fun and I hope readers find it. It has old-school punk rock and Scandinavian black-metal; laugh out loud moments and Hallmark-ca...moreThis book is a lot of fun and I hope readers find it. It has old-school punk rock and Scandinavian black-metal; laugh out loud moments and Hallmark-card emotionality. Real issues and absurd situations. Neilly and Dec are great characters. Vegan-ism is presented as ultimate rejection of social norms. It has pre-marital sex and its unintended consequences, a gay wedding and lesbian clergy. All in all, good times.
To be clear: there are ample references to teen sexual desire, self-love, expletives, and gay people. Readers should be fully informed going in. This captures the maelstrom that can come with a blended family. Halpin has done an honest job rendering a teenaged boy: his Declan isn't a common type, but he's real and believable in ugly and wonderful ways. I thought Neilly wasn't quite as well drawn, but she has her own depth and shows real growth.
Religion plays a central role to the plot. Those not familiar with Unitarian Universalism may find the church bits to be far-out, as compared to any variety of Christianity, but Cook and Halpin have done the research and captured it well.
As fun YA goes, this is a great read. Guys or girls will like it. Kids with queer parents will like it. Metal Heads will really like it. (less)
Read this in one marathon sitting. As YA problem novels go, this is a solid one, though not at the level of the best. Rainfield isn't a poetic writer....moreRead this in one marathon sitting. As YA problem novels go, this is a solid one, though not at the level of the best. Rainfield isn't a poetic writer. Or especially original. But, dang it, she keeps her plot moving along and her character's voice strong, and that's more than many of her contemporaries can manage. Fans of Ellen Hopkins will probably enjoy this. As molestation stories go, I prefer Such a Pretty Girl, but for cutting, this is way more engaging than Cut. The language is easy to read, even if the subject matter is difficult.
As other reviewers have mentioned, Kendra's Lesbianism is comfortably integrated without feeling preachy or sensational. And the focus really is on her abuse survival, revealing how cutting, while alarming and problematic, is a strategy that can soothe and make the intolerable tolerable.
On a side note: I've read that the image on the cover is of the author's arms and the author is thrilled with the image. I think this detail, not mentioned in the book, is another selling point. The author is a survivor.(less)
Several other reviewers appraise this book by comparing it to others by the authors - especially the lauded works of John Green. Having not read anyth...moreSeveral other reviewers appraise this book by comparing it to others by the authors - especially the lauded works of John Green. Having not read anything by either Green or David Levithan, I can only say that I'm looking forward to correcting the oversight. I do know a guy who's a ringer for Tiny, and that made this one a hoot to read, as I kept hearing and seeing him every time Tiny flounced across the page. This is a solid story built on several characters many teens will recognize. It is full of kids who are funny and sharp and wise and foolish and ultimately human.
Readers who are put off by gay characters probably won't pick this up, but these are also the readers who really should check this title out. It is about friendship and love, and not necessarily the kind that involves heavy breathing but the kind that endures and means something. And if you're a friend who lives in the shadow - literally or figuratively - of someone larger than life, this will be cathartic. All and all, an enjoyable read with some laughs and insights about big ideas.
Why do I keep reading books by Kevin Brooks when I always feel ticked off by the end? Could it be the covers, appealing as hard-Candy? Is it the promi...moreWhy do I keep reading books by Kevin Brooks when I always feel ticked off by the end? Could it be the covers, appealing as hard-Candy? Is it the promising cover-leaf descriptions? Am I Being a sucker for marketing? Every time I get done with one his titles, I feel a bit cheated and a bit muddled, as if I've taken a turn down Road Of The Dead-ends. When will it Killing God on me that I just don't like what he does? [This last sentence would work better if I could have easily inserted 'Dawn,' instead of the original, British title, "Killing God."]
There are good moments in "Dawn," and if a reader can relate to the 'lumpy-ish,' outsider - the titular Dawn Bundy - then this might be worth a read. Dawn is NOT happy with God, nor with her absent father, nor with her drunk mother, and don't even suggest that she think about the BAD THING THAT DIDN"T EVEN HAPPEN. She loves her dogs, obsessively listens to The Jesus and Mary Chain. There are passing sapphic musings. At first, the book is strange and moody and disjointed, then it shifts into almost a teen problem novel, and then it ends like a cautious Tarantino flick. Or like a Kevin Brooks book, I suppose.
The best YA is fascinating, moving, transformative. Good YA is entertaining. Yet again, Kevin Brooks has failed me on all these levels. Others have described this as deep and disturbing, but that wasn't the "Dawn" I read.(less)
As fish-out-of water stories go, this is one of the good ones. Harmon keeps Ben sympathetic as he adjusts to the Simple Life, sans money and glamor. E...moreAs fish-out-of water stories go, this is one of the good ones. Harmon keeps Ben sympathetic as he adjusts to the Simple Life, sans money and glamor. Even though the city-mouse/country-mouse story is familiar, it is done well, with plenty of side plots to stir things up. Will the country change this skate rat? Will he ever find welcome in a community as stagnant as Rough Butte? Will he get the girl and solve the mystery and topple the bully? A lot to tackle, but done with aplomb.
And the real treat is Miss Mae, a granny who does Irene Ryan proud (Bonnie "Miss Mae" Ingerson, Daisy "May" Moses? Coincidence?). Any scene with Miss Mae crackles like a hickory switch, and the book is worth reading for her alone.
The relationship between Ben and his father was the only drag on the story; it felt artificially contentious. Whenever Ben whined about his dad, or dad took on his son, the story came to a screeching halt. But otherwise, I'm glad to see Harmon working the territory - physical, emotional, and literary - staked out by Chris Crutcher.(less)
Gotta hand it to James St. James: he IS the voice of the teen drag-queen. How you feel about this book hinges on your appreciation of the narrator, Bi...moreGotta hand it to James St. James: he IS the voice of the teen drag-queen. How you feel about this book hinges on your appreciation of the narrator, Billy Bloom. If you think he's plucky, fabulous and outrageous, then the book is as well. If you, like I, eventually tire of Billy's camp, then the book suffers. Either way, it is a fascinating voice that gets enough room to reveal more than preconceived trappings.
No, there aren't any fully-fleshed out characters. Yes, everyone in high school is a convenient stereotype. The book shouldn't be seen as only a GLBTQ story, although the specifics of Billy's bashing are gut-wrenching.
James shoots for closer to the heart than simply dragging things on and out for 290 pages: he's exposes adolescent fears of standing out and of fitting in. By the time Billy announces, "We are freaks because we are teenagers! We are, by nature, oily, throbbing, mutating, misshapen space aliens. We have zits the size of matzo balls and strange patches of fur sprouting daily. Yes, yes, WE ARE ALL FREAKS! IT'S WHO WE ARE! IT'S WHAT WE DO!" the book has readers believing it.
Let's just start by saying this is a really solid book. Moore writes great action and has fun playing around with the familiar superhero tropes. He do...moreLet's just start by saying this is a really solid book. Moore writes great action and has fun playing around with the familiar superhero tropes. He does telegraph his punches, so none of the surprise twists caught me off guard, and the larger the twist, the less the surprise.
If I have a complaint, its that there are so many side issues - daddy issues, mommy issues, angry-teammate issues - that the hero world takes a back seat. I wanted more of a straight action-adventure. Then again, Moore is working against straight assumptions, so perhaps that's part of his game. Still, this is really a great coming of age book.(less)
Just your average 'girl-falls-for-girl' story. There are a few original twists: the protagonist, Hope, was raised on a commune by hippie parents, she...moreJust your average 'girl-falls-for-girl' story. There are a few original twists: the protagonist, Hope, was raised on a commune by hippie parents, she gets along well with them. As high interest, easy fiction goes, this is fine, but there's not much real tension driving the story. Books in the Orca series always look a little edgy, but this is actually a fairly conventional story. (less)