The Misfits by James Howe

misfitsI listened to this audiobook a few months ago, but I decided to wait and review it during LGBT Pride Month.  It’s not because the entire story was about one particular LGBT character or centered around a specific LGBT problem, though, because it wasn’t.  The story actually revolved around a group of self-proclaimed misfits and their attempt to stop bullying in their school.  Joe, nevertheless, was identified as being gay and other characters recalled that Joe used to wear dresses sometimes.  I really appreciated the way Joe’s sexual identification and history of cross-dressing were treated as more of a side note to explain why some people bullied him and but that his story didn’t overshadow or make light of the other forms of bullying at their school.  This was a story in which a variety of students were bullied for a variety of reasons, all of which were wrong.

Everything started back when Addie refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance; she was adamant about the fact that there wasn’t “liberty and justice for all” and, on principle, refused to say the pledge anymore.  Even though her teacher didn’t quite seem to understand where she was coming from, her friends, the misfits, thought she was on to something.  They were tired of being made fun of and mistreated, and they were fairly certain that nothing would improve unless they did something about it — so they decided to go about affecting that change by creating a third party in the student council elections.  The book did get a little didactic at times, but I think many tween and teen readers will appreciate Addie’s brand of idealism and the fact that working together actually made a difference in their school.  Fortunately, many schools are making an effort to teach character education and to promote an environment free from hatred and bullying… but it’s still out there.  Sadly, I’m all too certain there will always be kids who can relate to this story.

Happy Reading!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

all-the-boysAlthough I enjoyed the Burn for Burn series, it wasn’t what I would typically expect from Jenny Han.  I first fell in love with her writing when I read Shug.  [Sidebar: I cannot believe that was NINE YEARS ago!]  I went on to adore the Summer I Turned Pretty series and frequently recommend it to readers who are looking for an author similar to Sarah Dessen.  Even though Jenny Han’s stories fall on the lighter side of YA, I can’t help but use words like “honest” and “raw” when I describe her characters.  I love the fact that Han’s characters face problems that a majority of tweens and teens can relate to — and the mom/librarian in me especially appreciates her multidimensional female characters.   When this book showed up on the library hold shelf on the same day that I finished Ashes to Ashes (Burn for Burn, book 3), I took it as a sign and bumped it to the top of my book pile!

Lara Jean has fallen in love many times, but that doesn’t exactly mean she has had much dating experience.  Instead of dating those boys, though, she skipped straight from falling in love to letting them go.  And, in order to let them go, she wrote a love letter of sorts.  Whenever she wrote to one of the boys she loved, Lara Jean always wrote honestly and held nothing back [because she knew that the boys would never really read the letters].  She’d planned to simply keep all of the letters in the hat box her mom gave her to hold her special and/or secret items.  The fact that she chose to include the name and address of each boy on the front of the envelope, nevertheless, proved to be rather unfortunate.  After the hat box mysteriously disappeared from her closet and the letters were all “accidentally” mailed out, Lara Jean ended up agreeing to be in a fake relationship to avoid her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh — to whom she had written one of the most recent letters.  But how is a girl supposed to know whether her fake boyfriend is actually flirting or just putting on a good show?  And what should she do if she starts to think she might have feelings for him?  The book ended a little too abruptly for my liking, so it’s a good thing there is a sequel — P.S. I Still Love You — that came out at the end of May.  ;-)

Happy Reading!

So… I updated my “about Librarina” page…

because I’m super excited to share some crazy news with y’all:

For more than a decade, Chrissie has been as a Youth Services [Tween & Teen] Librarian @ the East Greenbush Community Library (in East Greenbush, NY).  She is about to “retire” from full-time librarianship to become a mostly-stay-at-home-mom but will never stop reading YA fiction and encouraging other people to read.  She is also addicted to video games [especially the Legend of Zelda series], baking, and crafting — hence her addiction to Pinterest.  Chrissie still doesn’t know what she wants to do when she grows up… but she’s pretty certain she will never stop loving YA books!

Happy Reading!

Burn for Burn [trilogy] by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

burn-for-burnLet me just start off my review by stating that I refuse to read any further books if this trilogy suddenly becomes a series with four or more books, like The Selection.  As far as I am concerned, this trilogy is complete, there is no more story, and Jenny Hand and Siobhan Vivian should leave it alone!  ;-)  (Who am I kidding?  I’m sure I would eat it up if they published anything else because I tore through these books!)  Oh… And there is one other thing I would like to clarify before starting my actual review.  Some people might start reading the first book and think the “sci-fi/fantasy” classification is unjustified.  Even at the end of the first book, I was a little unsure if the supernatural element was quite enough to justify being in the “sci-fi/fantasy” section of the Teen Area.  But, trust me when I say that it will make sense if you keep reading. Continue 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

Acceleration by Graham McNamee

accelerationSome people are confused by the fact that I can’t handle “scary movies” but am so intrigued by novels and biographies about serial killers.  During my freshman year of college, I actually scared the student assistant at my college library.  He asked which class required me to watch so many A&E Biography specials about serial killers and I answered, “It’s not for a class.  I just think they’re interesting.” He shoved the movie across the counter and practically ran into the back office.  When I returned the next week, he was nowhere to be found.  Fortunately, we met through a mutual friend a few months later and figured out that we recognized each other because he was the AV guy at the library and I was the “creepy serial killer girl.”  I was able to elaborate about how my interest was piqued during a high school psychology class and that viewing habits were based purely on curiosity.  (Up until that point, apparently, he had been worried that I was a serial killer in training or something like that… Oops!)
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