Friday, November 23, 2007

Jay Asher. THIRTEEN REASONS WHY

Imagine if someone special in your life commits suicide and then proceeds to communicate with you about why she did it. And I’m not talking about ghosts. Clay Jenson gets a mysterious package of cassette tapes in the mail. The note explains that he’s one of the thirteen people who played the biggest part in Hannah Baker’s decision to take her own life and therefore gets to listen to her explaining it all. Clay puts in the first tape, hears Hannah’s voice again, and simply cannot stop listening to her story. He listens to all thirteen tapes in one night. He keeps waiting to see what part he may have played in her decision. The story is gut wrenching, moving and sad. The voice from both the female and male points of view is so truthful and real. This is an incredible first novel by this author. This is one you seriously will not be able to forget.
Here's some more info on the author, Jay Asher:
http://classof2k7.com/interviews/authors/jay_asher/

Monday, November 19, 2007

Francine Prose. BULLYVILLE

I think this is the first book I’ve read where the characters are dealing with a loss from 9/11. Bart’s father worked in the Twin Towers building and went down with them on that tragic day. The odd part is that his mom also worked there. However, that morning Bart had the flu and his mother couldn’t find anyone to watch him, so she stayed home with him. So basically, he saved her life. From then on, he’s called the miracle boy. When the local community hears about Bart, one thing leads to another & he gets a scholarship to the local private school. The adults think this is the greatest thing. But the kids know the truth about Baileywell Prep. They call it Bullyville. The stories say kids have been bullied to the point of insanity or suicide. Bart doesn’t want to go to the school. He’s perfectly fine at his public middle school with his friends. But after everything that has happened, he agrees because he thinks it will make his mom happy. Then the trouble begins. This was a moving book about what it’s like to suffer an amazing public tragedy and then have to endure a private one shortly thereafter. You wonder where the justice is. You also wonder how many other kids are dealing with this type of bullying. My guess is too many.
Her previous book was just as intriguing. It's also about a timely topic, school shootings:

AFTER by Francine Prose

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Yvonne Collins and Sandy Rideout. THE BLACK SHEEP

In a moment of despair, Kendra Bishop fills out an application for a reality show where two teenagers switch places. She figures anybody else's life must be better than hers. After several months go by, she’s forgotten all about it, until a TV crew shows up at her house. Kendra ends up agreeing to do the show. She thinks it will be a nice break from her strict, banker parents. Her parents have her living under so many rules that they have an actual book of rules. She goes to an all girl school, so she never gets to meet guys, let alone date them. She dreams of more freedom and independence. But, when she meets her temporary “new” family in California, she is in shock. The parents are hippies with lots of children and since Kendra's an only child herself, this will be a big adustment. Also, the whole family is obsessed with the declining sea otter population. She begins to wonder exactly what she has gotten herself into. I was attracted to this book because of the intriguing premise. I’m sure most of us have thought about what it would be like to trade places with someone. I enjoyed this look at behind the scenes of a reality show, but mostly I enjoyed the lively characters. From the family members in California to the comical producer, they were all truly wonderful. Plus, there’s a little action and a little romance. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pseudonymous Bosch. THE NAME OF THIS BOOK IS SECRET

This is probably the first book I’ve read where the first few pages are dedicated to the author trying to persuade you away from reading the book for “your own good.”
But when/if you do brave ahead and read the book, you’ll meet Cass and Max-Ernest. Cass is a survivalist, who carries a backpack filled with items she might need in an emergency: flashlight, maps, ropes, etc. Max-Ernest has 2 names because his parents literally could not agree on which name to give him, so they gave him both. He is good at breaking codes, but not so good at making friends, because he’s weird and talks too much. They end up collaborating together to investigate the disappearance of a magician in town. They sneak in his house and find a secret room with an unusual box called the symphony of smells. Then they find a trail of codes and clues about some mysterious things going on at a nearby “spa” that are linked with a missing boy at school. And that’s about all I can tell you, since the book is “secret” and all! But, I will recommend you check out the author’s website just to tempt you into reading this really cool book.
The website for the book: TheNameOfThisWebsiteIsSecret.com
Author's site:
http://www.pseudonymousbosch.com/

Friday, November 2, 2007

Wendy Mass. HEAVEN LOOKS A LOT LIKE THE MALL


This is one of those books where I jump on it, without reading anything about it, just by the cover & title. How could I not like a book that has “mall” on the cover? Well, it is really an unusual book. After Tessa gets hit by a dodgeball and smashes into the floor of the gym, she wakes up in what appears to be her neighborhood mall or Heaven or both. She knows this mall really well, since both of her parents work there. The mall is empty until she runs into a boy with a nail sticking out of his head. He takes her to lost and found and gives her a bag with an unusual array of items in it. All of the items are from her childhood. Then she begins to remember how each item fits into her life, while simultaneously learning about who she is. She had recently been asked to write a college essay that asked that very question. Tessa now wonders (a) if she likes who she is and (b) if the answer is no, can she change? Nail boy continues to guide and encourage her along the way. One of my favorite parts is when he tells her, “Our lives are shaped by the future, not by the past. Once you decide how you want your life to be, all you need to do is live into that future.” Words to live by?