I just finished this advanced reader copy from the NCTE convention, so don't look for this book until May 2017. But DO look for this book May 2017!! I would absolutely recommend this YA book for a classroom library, because if you're a teacher, you will have a student who will need to read this. OK, on with the review. Sixteen-year-old Kai is just living life, enjoying time with her best friends JT and Emily and counting on her sister Jen to convince their parents to let her take a gap year in Europe. Then, on just a normal Tuesday, everything changes. Kai gets the mail to find three letters from her sister which spirals her into a place of loss and depression so profound that she doesn't think there's any way to recover. Her desperate parents finally send her off to a grief camp for a month, and Kai agrees to "give it a try." Although resistant, she finds four other broken souls in Ben, Cass, Jack and especially Graham, and the healing process begins. While it might seem simplistic, the journaling and activities that Kai experiences at camp (along with the growing relationship with Graham) convince her that life is worth living. Students experiencing loss may find some comfort and direction here as well. A really sweet first book from Turrisi.
What serendipity that I started my 12 x 12 list this year with Amanda Palmer, and I'm including a text by her husband Neil Gaiman (and yes, I ACTUALLY read the book this time--no Audible!) I really picked this up so I could pass it along to son Ben when I was finished, and I am counting this as "a book you can finish in a day" because I JUST about did. The plot is told as a flashback by the unnamed narrator of a fantastical childhood event which he recalls when he revisits his old neighborhood. While the reading level is probably elementary, there are archetypal elements to the book (the characters of the innocent, the mother figure, and the crone, for example) which could lead to some fascinating conversations in comparison with other texts of the hero's journey. More importantly, I just LOVE Gaiman's prose--he is able to transport the reader through words. It's like a spa visit for your brain. I look forward to passing this along and having a follow-up conversation about it!
I just got done "reading" this book for the second time, and I loved it just as much the second time around. With a new take on the "zombie apocalypse" genre, Carey hits all the right notes (and I'll try not to reveal too many spoilers). Much of the story concentrates on Melanie, one of a group of special children being educated by the military at a secure camp in England. When her teacher, Miss Justineau, rescues her from being dissected by Dr. Caldwell, it throws the remaining characters into a fight to the death with the "hungries"--those who have been infected by a world-ending, zombie-creating virus.
I loved the emotions of this book and the really inventive resolution to this much-visited genre. The action and adventure will suck in the most resistant readers. This should definitely be included in any list of teen dystopian novels.
Book 2 in the 12x12 challenge, and it's not even the middle of January! I'm going to list Grasshopper Jungle as my "book recommended by a local librarian or bookseller." Technically, it was recommended by Penny Kittle (author of Book Love) at the CEL convention. Penny maintains that we need to get kids reading, so we need to recommend books they'll love. If you're an adolescent male, you'll love Grasshopper Jungle. If you don't mind listening to the musings of a sex-crazed and sexually-confused 16-year-old narrator, then you'll enjoy Grasshopper Jungle. If you're offended by a line like, "Having balls with the same name as your best friend's is a serious social blunder," then perhaps Grasshopper Jungle is not for you.
I found the book surprising in a number of ways. I spent 27 years in the classroom with 16-year-olds, so I'm not surprised by anything they think (or will talk about out loud sometimes), and Rolling Stone's review starts with "raunchy," so I wasn't put off by the many, MANY sexual references and some profanity. I WAS surprised that I really enjoyed this narrator and his best friend Bobby--they're irreverent but at times hilarious. And they're trying to save the world, so you've gotta cut them some slack. I was surprised at the plot twists--things didn't go the way I expected them to go, and I love that in a book. I love it when books portray the messy, confusing, and realistic way our lives really evolve, so I was really pleased that this book didn't end the way I thought it would. Having said that, it is a book about the end of the world by way of 6-foot praying mantis monsters with razor sharp teeth on their arms who will pull off your head and then swallow you whole, so do be prepared to suspend your "reality meter" with this one. I would put this high on a list of YA books for teen boys (with parents who realize fiction is not going to corrupt them).
I read Levithan's young adult novel Every Day this summer while on vacation in Malta (which was experiencing its worst heatwave in 28 years). In the comfort of our air-conditioned hotel room, I could not stop reading the adventures of "A." Imagine waking up in a new body every day, one that you can only occupy for 24 hours and then it's on to the next body at the stroke of midnight (like Cinderella on steriods!) Levithan does a masterful job creating one life after another for A to inhabit (always the same chronological age, but that's the only similarity). Every size, shape and gender is a possibility in A's world. Then he becomes Justin and he meets Justin's girlfriend Rhiannon. As A struggles to find a way to stay in touch (and in love) with Rhiannon, his life becomes even more complicated as he finds out that there may be others like himself, doomed to shift from one life to another.
Book 2 - Another Day - is not a sequel, but rather a companion novel from Rhiannon's point of view. It was interesting to see the same events from another perspective, although personally I think Levithan did a much better job of capturing A's voice than he did that of Rhiannon. It seems clear at the end of Another Day that this is bound to be at least a trilogy, so stay tuned!
I picked this book up at Barnes and Noble to kill some time--ended up having to buy it and stayed up all night until I was finished! So that tells you that it's low Lexile but high interest. The main character Clay Jensen receives a box of cassette tapes in the mail from his friend Hannah--who killed herself the week before. Each tape contains the story of one person who had an effect on her life and her decision to commit suicide. I'll just say it's a book that stays with you.
I literally just finished this over the weekend. A fascinating look into the mind of the anorexic/bulemic. Anderson did her homework before writing this book, and it shows in the stark honesty of the characters of Lia and Cassie. "Watching" Lia add calories in her head as she tries to eat as little as possible was absolutely heart breaking. A fast YA read, but one you won't want to put down until you get to the end.
I also learned that there are whole websites dedicated to encouraging anorexia called "pro ana" websites (shout-out to former student Savannah Rohloff who did an excellent speech for my class on this subject). I checked one out--it broke my heart. Anorexia is as much an addiction as alcoholism or drug abuse.
Wow wow wow! If you're a science fiction fan, it's a no-brainer! Katniss Everdeen is the 16-year-old protagonist, growing up in Section 12 in what was the US. Every year 24 young adults (2 from each district) are chosen by the Capitol, to be wined and dined on their way to a fight to the death! This is a trilogy that has been gathering fans quickly, especially since the release of the third novel Mockingjay. A great SSR option!
OK, I don't know that I can adequately describe in this space how much I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! I think you first need to love Pride and Prejudice. Then, you need a sense of humor. Loving fantasy fiction wouldn't hurt. Roll this all together, and you get this wild ride of a book!! I cannot tell you the number of times I quite literally laughed out loud! (Confession time again--listened to the Audible version). Having said that (and small spoiler alert here**), whenever poor afflicted Charlotte Lucas tried to communicate in her half-zombie voice, I nearly drove the car off the rode I was laughing so hard! I already love Elizabeth Bennett, but when she cuts off the coach driver's leg to save him from the zombies, and then ninja-flips over the horses to lead them to safety, well, that's just icing on the cake. And, hey, can it hurt that we will get kids to actually READ Jane Austen (a LOT of the book is still P&P, after all!)? Seth, you're a genius (actually, I guess your agent is a genius, but your name is on the book, so take the credit, baby!) I'm thinking about doing a mash-up myself--Vanity Fairies anyone?
OK, if you're a child of the 80's (I was still technically a teen for part of it!), then you will like this book. It got mixed reviews from my freshmen boys. The constant pop culture references from the 80's had me laughing out loud and trying to guess what was going to pop up next. The post-apocalyptic future with a severe division between the "haves" and the "have nots" definitely resonates today. Wil Wheaton does an exceptional job with the audiobook--especially "tongue in cheek" when he is talking about references to Star Trek. I will definitely listen to this one again--probably on my way to Toronto with my own kids this year.