Category Archives: you think you’ve got problems?

Leverage by Joshua Cohen

LEVERAGEI read this book because the Upper Hudson Library System has a yearly “tough reads” book discussion during our June Youth Services Advisory Council meeting.  We talk about why the book was a tough read, why it’s so important not to censor our collections, and how to get these books into the hands of the tweens and teens who would benefit from reading them.  Whenever we have these discussions, it makes me particularly grateful that I ended up in a public library instead of a school library, since it would be so much harder to stand up for the students’ freedom to read if I was up against a school board that was eager to placate an upset parent.  I think it would be very tough to “practice what I preach” if I was worried that my job was on the line.  Sadly, I was unable to attend the book discussion this year, so I don’t know what everyone else thought about this book… but I figured I could at least share my thoughts on this blog.

This story is a sports rivalry like no other; the rivals aren’t even from different schools.  The members of the football team and the gymnastics team keep pranking one another, and the stakes just seem to get higher and higher every time.  It’s pretty clear to the guys on the gymnastics team that the guys on the football team are getting out of control, but they just can’t seem to help themselves.  When something completely terrible happens to Ronnie, no one wants to talk about it.  Even his own teammates try to get him to pretend it never happened.  But life doesn’t work like that.  And, sooner or later, someone is going to have to put a stop to this prank war before it claims another victim.

Happy Reading!

The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi

wasnt-meDespite the fact that the American Psychiatric Association put forth a resolution in 2009 stating that “there is insufficient evidence that sexual orientation change efforts work,” there are still numerous facilities and therapists that claim they can “cure” homosexuality.  It breaks my heart and makes me angry, in equal measure, when I hear about teens being sent off to so-called conversion therapy camps.  To put it plainly, I find the notion that GLBTQ people can/need to be “fixed” is simply horrifying.  I recognize that some people’s religious views are the reason they don’t condone homosexuality, but I reject the implication that one’s religious beliefs can or should be forced upon anyone else.  Though some some places [California, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington D.C.] have passed laws banning conversion therapy for minors, I am appalled that so many states haven’t stepped up.  Hopefully, books like The Summer I Wasn’t Me and The Miseducation of Cameron Post can help to open people’s eyes and to bring about further change. Continue reading

Fault Line by C. Desir

fault-line The most obvious audience for this book is people who have been directly affected by sexual assault.  I think this book could help both victims and the people close to them with processing their feelings and seeing that they are not alone — especially friends and family members of rape victims, since there aren’t many books about the guilt, shame, and helplessness they often experience.  One of the most important audiences for this book, nevertheless, is the general population of adolescents and young adults.  Sadly, many people aren’t even sure what constitutes rape, and I think reading this book would be an excellent way to broach the subject with adolescents and young adults as a part of a comprehensive sex education program.  Fault Line provides an opportunity to explore and discuss the concept of consensual sex vs. rape and also provides some valuable insight into some common, yet widely varied, reactions of victims of sexual assault.  Though there are some people who complain that there are “too many rape books” out there, I disagree.  Each one provides a different perspective into what is still a very big problem in our society.  Perhaps if Laurie Halse Anderson‘s Speak weren’t so relevant almost 20 years after it was first published, I might think those critics had a leg to stand on. Continue reading

Monument 14 [series] by Emmy Laybourne

Monument14Sorry I never posted a review last week.  I had every intention of finding a few minutes to post a review  but… well…  I was on vacation and I was just having too much fun with my family!  ;-)  We spent the week in NYC and did a variety of cultural, educational, and just plain fun stuff.  Every day was exhausting, but my son insisted that we still make time to read at least a chapter every night before we crashed at the hotel.  As much as I enjoy reading with my kid, it was a little creepy — because we were reading the dead & the gone, which is all about post-apocalyptic NYC!  And because we were reading that book, it reminded me that I had to finish the Monument 14 series (another post-apocalyptic story) when I got home.  So, I decided that would be the subject of my first post back.
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The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan

tragedy-paperThis is another one of those books that I just cannot imagine reading from an actual book because it worked *so* well as an audiobook.  Although the plot is not even remotely the same, this audiobook actually reminded me of Thirteen Reasons Why because it had one narrator for the main character and another narrator for a person who left behind a recording.  I’m not sure what this says about me, but I really enjoy “listening in” on these recordings and the reactions they invoke from the main character!  ;-)  Continue reading

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

every-last-wordSometimes I read books because the covers look cool.  Other times, it’s because they come highly recommended by friends, colleagues, and/or reviewers.  Every now and again, though, I think fate reaches out to me.  This book was most definitely fated.  When I got an email from NetGalley that had a spotlight on this book, which included the phrase “Pure-Obsessive OCD” (aka “Pure-O OCD”) in the summary, I knew I had to request a galley.  Since I have been struggling with controlling my own Pure-O OCD recently, I decided to read this book (1) to see how accurately it portrayed Pure-O OCD (based on my own experiences), and (2) as bibliotherapy.  For those who don’t know, by the way, Pure-O OCD is a lesser-known form of OCD that “has fewer observable compulsions, compared to those commonly seen with the typical form of OCD (checking, counting, hand-washing, etc.)”  It was very obvious that Tamara Ireland Stone did a lot of research and took her time interviewing the teen who inspired her interest in this topic.  Sam’s intrusive thought spirals and panic attacks felt very real, and her therapist often sounded just like mine!   Continue reading

Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw

laughing at my nightmare I was shocked to see that this book was a YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist.  Not because I didn’t think it was deserving, though, but because I was shocked it didn’t actually win!  Shane Burcaw’s self-deprecating sense of humor and unwavering positivity in the face of adversity have already garnered tens of thousands of readers for his blog [laughingatmynightmare.tumblr.com], so it comes as no surprise that the book has also been universally well-received.    Continue reading