So, I know I just posted a review of another book last night, but this book was so AH-MAZING that I just couldn’t stand to think of waiting to review it. Let’s just look at this as preparation for Thanksgiving, since you’re getting an “extra helping” of YA awesomeness this morning. I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge how insane I was for waiting so long to read this book. I was among the first people on the request list, but I ended up sending it back and re-adding my name to the list because it showed up when I was in the middle of another book and didn’t think I would have time to read it then. Well… Even though this book was rather large (599 pages), I ended up reading it in ONE WEEK! Considering the fact that I didn’t have any days off from work and/or caring for my kids, that’s crazy! But, this book is crazy good, so I went to extremes to stay up late reading. I’m talking, get up and walk around when I feel my eyelids start to droop or purposely playing Candy Crush before sitting down to read because I know the glow from electronics makes it harder for me to fall asleep. Yeah. I’m dedicated like that! ;-) Continue reading
I don’t typically like books that aren’t plot-driven. Most of the time, I find that books without a plot just drag along. Well, I can’t truly say this book “doesn’t have a plot”… I mean, it has a sequence of events and the characters do things over a period of time. But there’s not a big build up to a climax followed by a tidy resolution as there would be in so many books. (Which I tend to prefer.) It’s hard to explain, but I think you probably know what I mean. Rather than some huge event that the book centers around, it’s just a description of what happens to these two characters over a length of time. A snapshot of their lives, if you will. An absolutely beautiful snapshot! Continue reading
Leila was just a random girl in a red car who was driving across the country (from Louisiana to Alaska) to see the Northern Lights. But, to the people who she met along the way, Leila was also a huge help. Well… Her interaction with Hudson could actually be construed as less than helpful, but she definitely helped the rest of the people she met along the way! I like how the story was broken down into five distinct sections, like short stories, since the other characters that Leila interacted with didn’t cross over at all. These adventures were five different episodes in her life, if you will. I also appreciated the fact that, though the interactions were life-changing for the people she met, Leila often left feeling just as lost and confused as when she first arrived. I mean, it just felt so much more genuine to me that Leila *didn’t* have all the answers. Because, who does?
I first thought about reading this book when I helped a student request it for her summer reading assignment about ten and a half years ago. Since there was a wait list of students who needed it for their assignment, I decided not to add a hold for myself. (I thought it would be unfair to the kids who really needed it.) Every summer I thought to myself, “I need to remember to read that when summer is over.” And, every year, I’ve had such a long “to be read” pile when summer reading ended that this book was added to my “I’ll read this book someday” list. At the end of the summer this year, though, the planets finally aligned. I only had one week left before I was on vacation with my family, so I wanted an audiobook short enough that I could finish it before the week was up. Even though it was still summer reading season, this audiobook was available on OverDrive, and I went for it! Continue reading
YALSA’s Teens’ Top Ten list was announced, and I CANNOT believe Panic wasn’t on it! I mean, I had a heck of a time even getting my hands on this one because it seems like everyone else who loved Delirium and Before I Fall managed to get on the list before me. I sometimes take the full four weeks to read my library books because I have so much else going on — like reading to my kids at night. I mean, I know it’s important. But that’s time I could totally use to read my *own* books! ;-) At the end of the day, I often only read to myself for about 15 minutes before I pass out. It’s so common for me to fall asleep reading, in fact, that my husband has learned to check his side of the bed for my book or Kindle before simply laying down. (He clunked his head quite a few times before he learned that lesson!) This book, though, was so intense that it had me reading long past my standard bedtime. So long, in fact, that my husband found me still awake and reading when he came to bed for something like four nights in a row! Continue reading
People sometimes make the mistake of asking my what my favorite book is. As in, “What’s your favorite book of all time?” Seriously? I don’t think I could pick a single favorite book from the books I have read so far this year, let alone all of the books I have read in my lifetime! Maybe there are some people out there who could name their favorite book. Some could probably do it without any hesitation, but I am most definitely not one of those people! I can’t even pick one favorite book from a single author. Case in point — a teen asked me the other day which of Ellen Hopkins’ books was “the best,” and I just stared back at her with a tilted head and squinty look of confusion. As a matter of fact, I probably looked a lot like this dog:
Chris Crutcher is most definitely one of my all-time favorite YA authors. Not only is he not afraid to tell it like it is in his books, but he also tells it like it is in the “real world” via Facebook, Twitter, and his blog, Stotan Unplugged. No matter how controversial a topic may be, he doesn’t feel the need to censor himself. He believes (and I fervently agree) that teens should not be sheltered from the harsh realities of the world. If teens have the potential to *live* something, who are we to tell them they shouldn’t *read* about it? Sadly, I don’t have a review for the first Chris Crutcher book I read – Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes — because I read it before I started this blog. But, I have reviews for several other books that I’ve read since then [Angry Management, Deadline, King of the Mild Frontier, Period 8] if you are not familiar with his books and would like a little primer. I have no idea how I managed to work nearly 10 years as a Tween & Teen librarian before reading Ironman (and without yet reading Whale Talk and Stotan!), but I suppose I just need to pace myself and I will get there.
Ironman is the story of a seventeen-year-old guy named Beauregard Brewster (a.k.a. Bo) who is training for a triathlon. Balancing home life, school work, and training would be challenging enough for most teens, but Bo also has to deal with a father who constantly belittles him and even schemes to try and make him lose that race. Many times, teens who experience problems at home find that school is a safe haven, but Bo has issues with his English teacher and former football coach, Coach Redmond, as well. Fortunately, he has a couple of adults in his life who actually have his best interests in mind — Mr. Serbousek, who teaches Bo’s journalism class and also coaches him in swimming, and Mr. Nakatani (aka Mr. Nak), who runs the anger management group Bo has to attend in order to avoid a suspension over an argument with Coach Redmond. While it can be depressing to read about the [based-on-reality] terrible parents that some kids have to deal with, books like this also serve as a beacon of hope for teens who are living through similarly terrible situations. Whether it’s just realizing that their situation is not unique or finding hope that the situation can actually get better, albeit with lots of time and plenty of work, books like this definitely matter to teens. Here’s to hoping you only need this book to make you aware of other people’s problems…
Happy Teen Read Week!