A fantastic read. I loved the way Pyper believably wove three of the greatest horror stories of all time into the plot of his modern tale. Flawless. IA fantastic read. I loved the way Pyper believably wove three of the greatest horror stories of all time into the plot of his modern tale. Flawless. I will not soon forget Lily and Michael... and the way my allegiances were manipulated throughout this novel. Classic horror story......more
As with all of Hannah Moskowitz's books, I loved this one. Devoured it in three days, between a busy schedule of STUA great treat for Moskowitz fans!
As with all of Hannah Moskowitz's books, I loved this one. Devoured it in three days, between a busy schedule of STUFF. Loved the deaf culture theme and the running theme. This was classic Hannah. I'd recommend it to anyone. ...more
This is an extraordinary book. I loved the YA voice of the narrator. Remarkable. So authentic, perhaps the most authentic YA voice I have ever read. WThis is an extraordinary book. I loved the YA voice of the narrator. Remarkable. So authentic, perhaps the most authentic YA voice I have ever read. When Everything Feels Like the Movies is a beautiful tragedy filled with hope and longing. I loved this book. I know it's going to stay with me for a very long time. There were so many things I loved about this book, it's impossible to parse into a review. Jude/Judy is a tour-de-force of a character. From page one I wanted her to succeed in the movie of her life. Filled with unrivaled sarcastic wit, the whole thing was just a sheer delight to read. The grit and reality of the narrator's voice was flawless and fearless. A beautiful novel.
"Our principal, Mr. Callagher, was saying through the speaker that the school was throwing a Valentine's dance, and if anyone wanted to help organize it, they should come to the office and lunch and shove their finger up his ass."
"We'd made the back table ours ever since Angela slept with her second cousin and started keeping a list under the table. We always sat there because she always had a new name to add."
I read almost exclusively on my Kindle app on my smartphone now. I love how you can highlight passages and make notes. With this book, however, I stopped highlighting after about 1/4 of the book. Because I was highlighting everything. The two passages above, I believe, are greatly representative of the impeccable voice of the narrator. I try to read every book as a reader, but I have to admit I read this one almost exclusively as a writer. I was blown away by voice. Yes, it had a story too...a fantastic one...and I realize I haven't really touched on that yet. It's just that it's one of those books that makes me want to try harder as a writer, to cross the lines I shy away from.
When Everything Feels Like the Movies is essentially the story of a teen who is larger than the small town that could never truly contain them. What sets it aside from other stories about breaking out of the small and into the limelight is that the character who is struggling to be contained is trans. Jude (Judy) deals with bigotry at every turn...including at home. But she is still able to dream big and have such lofty glamorous goals for herself. Her almost vulgar egoism and arrogance is a delight. Where it should turn a reader off, it endears her to them. We see the raw vulnerability in her swaggering confidence and self-love. True sarcasm comes not from pride, but from the shaky ego that wants to emulate pride. Jude is such a flawlessly written flawed character. He will remain one of my favourite characters for a long time to come.
Highlights for me? The secretive relationship between Jude and his best friend's brother. And the way the reader can feel the scream of love caught in Jude's throat where his little brother is concerned. The author writes with such a subtle pen...never more so than when he paints the picture of Jude's feelings for his half-brother Keefer. Also, Jude's complicated relationship with his father. The longing in that relationship is so painful. With just a few strokes of his pen, Reid impeccably captured a struggling father/son relationship...with the perfect balance of want and need and outrage. I'm beginning to think the whole book was a highlight for me. Reid drew an amazingly accurate villain in Ray, Jude's stepfather, too. Here was a man who seemed afraid Jude's gayness might transfer to his own son simply through touch or proximity. Again, a flawless rendition of a character...and how Jude's mother repeatedly chose Ray over her own son was also amazingly captured.Yep...too many highlights to speak of.
Be careful what you read about this book. I've seen spoilers after having read it that would have ruined the ending for me. If you want to go into it blindly, try not to read up on it prior to cracking the spine. Even the author drops plot spoilers in interviews surrounding the origins of the story. Beware!
EXPECTATION:To be honest, the controversy surrounding this book was a big motivating factor in me deciding to read it. Firstly, it sounded like a wonderful story. Secondly, I have no time for writers who think it's their place to petition to have books stripped of awards they absolutely and definitively deserve. In fact, I was quite disgusted that anyone would try to rally and petition against this book. It met and exceeded my expectations. It has made me want to be a better writer. Naysayers should be ashamed of themselves. The green-eyed monster may have much to do with the bitter pills these petitioners are unable to swallow....more
This book is a game changer! Beautifully written and exacting with its topic. It braves a topic that's taboo and shouldn't be. It speaks up where otheThis book is a game changer! Beautifully written and exacting with its topic. It braves a topic that's taboo and shouldn't be. It speaks up where others do not. Such an important book. I have so much love for it.
This story is an exceptional internal dialogue with self. And yet, it does not waiver in the least from also letting the reader in on the external world of the protagonist, Joel Scrivener. What the reader can see here, more than anywhere else in literature that I know of, is the internal struggle the survivor of childhood sexual abuse faces on an ongoing relentless basis.
What Cribbs has done here is phenomenal. I knew as soon as I read the draft of this novel that it was special. It takes us down the deep dark rabbit hole of confusion faced by many sexual abuse victims. It shows how the mind plays tricks on the survivor in order to help them to move forward in the world without checking out of it. Joel Scrivener is painted as a boy in the midst of confusion. He knows that everything is not right...but the kernels of truth he needs to complete the puzzle and get to the bottom of the problem are just outside his reach.
Only a survivor of sexual abuse can know the frustration of having great swaths of their lives cordoned off from their accessible memory. Joel struggles through a failing year of high school, while dealing with his highly dysfunctional mother and the feeling that something horrible has happened to him.
As Joel ricochets through a series of blind and frustrating choices, from running away from home to breaking into a school for shelter to recalling a botched experimental sexual encounter with a male friend, he struggles to piece together the story of his life. With parts missing even from his own view, he has no idea how to do this. On his journey, he recounts tender moments with his first love, Amber, whom he has since moved away from. We see him struggling with the side effects of his dark secret in the way he falls asleep in class and the way he cannot concentrate enough to settle into his schoolwork. There are many telltale moments in his reasoning that suggests he is a fragile egg about to crack. The ache that builds throughout this story is real. The reader will feel frustrated and sympathetic while getting an inside look at Joel's roller-coaster of emotional turmoil. And they will wonder at his strength as he chooses to take the rabbit hole he sees before him and tries to reconstruct his shattered life.
Some captured moments in THE PACKING HOUSE:
At the onset of the story, Joel admits to his way of dealing with things when he says, 'Running is my go-to response'.
When Joel speaks of how deflated and defeated he is, he says, 'I might as well be a week-old balloon, trailing limply, trying to keep from touching the ground. The fight is gone out of me. I don't even want to try anymore.' The reader feels the power of his defeat so deeply.
Perhaps my favourite passage from The Packing House is the following one:
The stuck place I'm in is too familiar, like the final box unpacked after a move; sometimes it's not ready to be unpacked, or we're not ready to face everything that's inside, so it sits there until we have to face it, one way or another.
That, dear readers, is the perfect analogy for the victim of childhood sexual trauma. And one never knows when that box will unpack. It is the threat in the heart of the shattered life...the threat of the last box's unpacking. Cribbs has written of an incredible journey here. A journey that moved me to tears and wonder.
Though a fictional one, this is a true documentation of what happens to the victim of this horrific crime. One look into the snowballing careening fall of Joel Scrivener, and the reader will get an idea of what it is to struggle with this terrible secret...one they often don't even know they carry. Sometimes the brain knows that the only way to survive is to send the terrible secret into a deep dark cellar somewhere inside its buried chambers until it's ready to be accessed. Or until it just cannot be contained any longer. Cribbs has perfectly captured this journey in telling Joel's story. And he keeps the reader at Joel's side through every step of the journey, expertly revealing the kernels at just the right moments of Joel's struggle.
I suggest everyone read this story. It's one of the most important ones I have ever read, and moreover, it is beautifully told. Cribbs is an exceptional writer...I look forward to more from him and I'm excited to see where he goes from here. After telling the story he needed to tell, there's no limit to what he can do with the stories he wants to tell!
My hopes with THE PACKING HOUSE? That it begins (or continues) the much needed conversation that some are unwilling to partake in. Childhood Sexual Abuse is an epidemic. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys prior to the age of 18 will experience an unwanted sexual act, either including touch or not. That's unacceptable. Dialogue helps prevent future occurrences. G. Donald Cribbs's THE PACKING HOUSE is a perfect jumping off point. READ IT NOW! Don't be afraid to take this sometimes hard, but always beautiful, journey....more
This book sucker-punched me in the throat. It took every thought on homosexuality I ever had and made it a what-if. What if we could have that part of ourselves wiped out of our memory for good? What if we could remove it from who we are, what we are? What if we could escape that life? If we could, would we? I understood immediately the main character's desire to alter his memories and to wipe the existence of his sexuality from his mind. I understood it in a very real and heartbreaking way.
This book messed with my head. I wanted to simultaneously slap the main character across the head, root for him, and watch with anticipation to see if he is ultimately able to escape the imagined death sentence he finds himself in. I was all over the charts on this one...mostly because I think this is something a hell of a lot of LGBTQ teens struggle with. This is a must read. And not only for LGBTQ persons. If you want to see their internal struggle and turmoil, to understand them better--to walk a mile in their shoes--read this book!
The whole premise of More Happy Than Not is essentially about the main character, Aaron Soto, attempting to flee his homosexuality. But where we begin is not really the beginning. Because of the nature of this rollercoaster of a story, we are originally led to believe this is about Aaron coming to terms with the suicide of his father and then his own failed suicide attempt. But that's simply the surface of this amazingly executed tale of homophobia, depression, loss, poverty, friendship, and the awkward and horrific inner turmoil of not being comfortable in one's own skin...with the essence of one's selfness.
One of the first questions I formed as the story unraveled from the original suicide and loss thread, and we began to see the unfolding of Aaron's sexuality questioning while in the throes of a new friendship with a boy named Thomas, was HOW MANY PEOPLE NEED TO ACCEPT YOU BEFORE IT'S OKAY TO ACCEPT YOURSELF? Aaron knew, even as his feelings for Thomas grew, that his friends would not be okay with him liking boys. And there was already a growing strain between him and his friends, possibly as a result of his father's suicide and his own failed attempt...or possibly because of other circumstances not yet revealed to the reader. The reader may have a sense that there is more than meets the eye on this issue. Aaron struggles to come clean about his sexuality even to his mother and brother...even though his mother pointedly tells him she would love him no matter what.
In an effort to forego the struggle of dealing with his burgeoning sexuality, Aaron considers the Leteo Institute's memory altering procedure...maybe he can simply erase the fact that he is gay from his mind. It would answer all his prayers in one fell swoop. He could keep his girlfriend and be straight with her and carry on in a normal heterosexual existence.
Oh yeah, Aaron also has a girlfriend. Genevieve is a visual artist who is very much in love with him...to a point where it is dangerous. She wants him. Even when things start to unravel she still wants to hold on to him. As Thomas comes into his life, Genevieve is temporarily leaving it for a getaway at an art camp. His struggles over not wanting to hurt her upon her return by revealing his secret sexual desires are palpable. But his unnamed secret becomes even more complicated when an incredibly HUGE plot-twist interrupts the forward motion of this story with the expertise and precision of a sword. We, the reader, find that we have been kept in the dark about a few things.
The plot twist works well. At first, I felt a bit violated by the deception...but I almost immediately got over it. It turned out to be an extremely heartrending twist. I did not see it coming, and it served to show the sheer depths of Aaron's sexuality struggles. His struggle is so true and so real and so similar...it cut deep. I can't even begin to count the number of times I wished I could start over...erase everything and simply start over in a more friendly accepting environment. Somewhere, anywhere that accepts you for who you are. But in real life...you're always going to find haters. You will never escape judgement. This is why Aaron considers NOT to alter the opinion of those around him but to alter his own mind instead. But some things come at a price. Sometimes there are even more tragic things than accepting who you are even at the price of losing everything around you.
I found this story to be completely and utterly heartbreaking. But I also found it to be an oasis of hope. Perhaps the LGBTQ youth who read it will find a perverse comfort in it...if only in discovering they are not alone in their struggle at self-acceptance while simultaneously discovering who ultimately will not accept them. Sadly, many of them will far too easily imagine a world where they would erase their sexuality from their memory in order to have a more comfortable existence.
At one point, Aaron states, "I can't believe I was once that guy who carved a smile into his wrist because he couldn't find happiness, that guy who thought he would find it in death." But I can. I can believe it wholeheartedly. It's not easy. And Adam Silvera painted a perfect picture of the struggle. One can only hope that books like this one change people, make them more tolerant. But it's not the LGBTQ people who need to change. It's those who oppose them for simply being who they are...who they unalterably emphatically are.
"I'm more happy than not. Don't forget me." ~ Aaron Soto, More Happy Than Not (Adam Silvera)...more
Right at the onset of George, I recognized something in the secrecy of the main character, George. In the opening sentences, there’s a passage that reads, ‘George needed to be certain the house was empty’. After elaborately casing the house for others, George fishes beneath the pile of teddy bears and fluffy bunnies in her closet for a flat denim bag that contained a treasure…her fashion magazines. George loved to get lost in the glossy pages of these magazines, dreaming about the day she could one day be a woman like the ones on its pages, dreaming of the glamour and the beauty products and the outfits and the everything.
One thing you need to know about George is that George is Melissa. You see, the world still sees her as a boy named George. But George is Melissa and Melissa is a girl.
Keeping her glamour magazines a secret are the least of George’s problems. This year’s featured book at school is Charlotte’s Web. Different grades do different things with the book. George’s grade is charged with putting on a play. And George knows she would be the best Charlotte ever. Her best friend Kelly sees nothing wrong with this…so the two go about rehearsing their lines together. But come audition day, George’s teacher, Ms. Udell, is slightly less than amused by George’s audition. But can she stop the girl who would shine the most as the beloved spider?
Alex Gino’s George is raw, honest, and perfectly rendered for the age group of the target Middle Grade audience. It’s a heart-warming story of a girl coming to terms with herself. And it is beautiful. For me, some of the noteworthy moments in this lovely tale include George’s comeuppance of the bully, Jeff. It was so delicious and perfect, and so George. As well, the preparation for the trip to the zoo was stellar…beautiful scene where two best girlfriends, Melissa and Kelly, get dressed up for a day trip. Possibly one of my favourite scenes was the interaction George had with her older brother when she revealed her 'secret' to him. You will love so many scenes in this book. As it's a quick read, I don't really want to give too much more away.
I’d recommend this quick read to anyone…it certainly transcends the Middle Grade market, even as it fits perfectly within it.
I look forward to more from Alex Gino. They have an excellent way of opening eyes without being preachy or lesson-y while doing so. Their ability to tackle the important transgender issue, while telling a wonderful and engaging story was flawless. I can’t wait to see what Alex does next!
EXPECTATION MET?: I waited quite a while for this one. Couldn't wait to read it, actually. It exceeded my expectations nicely. Such a satisfying read. And I'm so glad it exists in the lower reading category of Middle Grade. It will find its audience...books like this always do. Books like this are salvation to those who need them. ...more