We all have our reasons to be happy, things that make us smile or brighten our days, but Hannah Carlisle has a4.5 - A must for middle school libraries
We all have our reasons to be happy, things that make us smile or brighten our days, but Hannah Carlisle has a notebook full of them. A notebook that is supposed to help her when times get rough. Only her reasons aren’t enough. Her pain is deep, her loss monumental, her emotions raw. Hannah Carlisle will wander into the hearts of readers, burrow herself there, and force us to confront every unsettling, upsetting, and beautiful thing about this eighth grader and her journey to find herself again.
Katrina Kittle implicitly understands the young adult mind. Hannah is an insecure eight grader who questions everything about herself. She doesn’t want to be scared, she doesn’t want to be bulimic, but she doesn’t know how to change it. Kittle’s take on bulimia, the way she calls it a disgusting monster and handles Hannah’s situation more than realistically, is the perfect way to express such a prevalent issue with teens, with anyone.
Hannah is superbly fleshed out, with a family, hopes, dreams, and upsets. Each of her ‘reasons to be happy’ help to see just a little more into the girl that she was and the girl that she’s trying to find again. Not only can any young girl relate to Hannah, but anyone will like her, care about her, and hope with every fiber of their being that she’s strong enough, that she has the right support system, to get through everything.
Reasons To Be Happy isn’t lighthearted and bubbly. It isn’t a glimpse into the picture perfect life of a child born of two actors. It’s a devastating portrayal of a delightful girl who loses herself, but is strong enough and stubborn enough to not stay lost. It’s heartbreaking and will affect its middle grade audience, but also any person who has ever felt lost, alone, or confused.
My most favorite thing about the book isn’t even Hannah’s reasons – though they are superb – or her family – who I couldn’t help but love – it’s that her struggle is just that, a struggle. One doesn’t just get rid of an eating disorder, just as one doesn’t simply kick a bad habit or get over an addiction. You have to fight for it. And Katrina Kittle made me feel like I fought for it with Hannah. We fought, we cried, we hurt, but we’re still here. And that’s what matters most....more
Past Perfect is a contemporary novel in the broadest sense, considering it takes place in the present day, but much of it is in 1774 and then a centurPast Perfect is a contemporary novel in the broadest sense, considering it takes place in the present day, but much of it is in 1774 and then a century later during the Civil War. Chelsea’s job as a historical reenactor is hilarious, especially because of the War her coworkers have with the Civil War reenactors across the street. War strategy, planting of historically inaccurate objects (phones!), and a little romance make Leila Sales sophomore novel a winner.
Sales has a talent with humor and Chelsea – historical name: Elizabeth Connelly – is funny. Her interactions with her parents, particularly with her talker of a father, had me giggling. The drama within Essex is unbelievable (in a good way) because these teens get so into their jobs. The War and the historical reenactment bring about some new words too; my favorite being ‘farbs,’ which is an insult towards the reenactors. I just want to run around giving dirty looks and calling people farbs now.
The story focuses mostly on Chelsea and, surprisingly, not too much on her love life. It’s more about her; growing up and moving on. Sure, Chelsea has an ex-boyfriend and things are complicated and painful between them, and now there’s Dan and all the complications of liking a Civil Warrior, but really, it’s more about Chelsea learning from the past and living in the present. Sales’ writing of Chelsea and her situation is witty and intelligent. Everything with the War and all the historical information is absorbing. On top of that is a cast of supporting characters that are endlessly entertaining with their one liners and dedication to the War.
Past Perfect is another wondrously amusing and charming book from Leila Sales, and even though I was sold on it before, now I know there won’t be a book by Sales that I won’t love. She gives us delightful characters, witty dialogue, comical situations, and romance that is both sweet and alluring. It would be incredibly difficult to not love this book and I can’t recommend it enough. Leila Sales is contemporary force to be reckoned with. ...more
Andrew Smith has a knack for creating unforgettable characters in astounding situations. He refuses to hold back with his storytelling and gives the rAndrew Smith has a knack for creating unforgettable characters in astounding situations. He refuses to hold back with his storytelling and gives the reader characters that go through gritty, raw, and oftentimes, difficult and traumatic happenings. Stick is no exception to that.
Stark McClellan, known as Stick to most because of his incredible height, is a fourteen year old living in hell. He was born with one ear into an abusive family and has a self-loathing that’s heartbreaking and an innocence reminiscent of Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Stick’s only salvation comes in the form of his brother, Bosten, and his best friend Emily. He has this undeniable love for both of them, despite his constant hatred for himself.
The plot advances slowly, but with such precision and in such unnervingly painful ways that it’s impossible to put down. Stick and Bosten suffer and suffer and then suffer some more. They aren’t loved by their parents; they aren’t protected by the other adults around them. They have each other, and Emily and Bosten’s maybe boyfriend Buck, but that isn’t enough – not when Stick isn’t even whole and Bosten can barely manage to get by; not when they walk through their front door and fear the worst.
Instantly, I was captivated by these two boys and their harsh circumstances. I was taken by their struggles and wanted to protect them both. Stick’s matter of fact thinking and childlike wonderment invoke this undeniable need to shield him – from his father, from his mother, from all the bad things in the world that could hurt him. I loved him, dearly. I loved Bosten. I cared about Buck. I wished Dahlia could have been there from the beginning. And I adored Emily.
This book, these characters – they aren’t just mere words on paper – they come to life. The occasional change in formatting highlights the way Stick hears the world around him and helps the reader feel the story even more. Andrew Smith is a master at creating vivid stories with as much hope as there is heartbreak and I will continue to look forward to each and every novel he writes....more