Saturday, November 28, 2009

Suzanne Crowlwy. THE VERY ORDERED EXISTENCE OF MERILEE MARVELOUS


The best way to begin this review is a quote from Merilee:

One thing’s for sure in Jumbo, Texas, population 1,258: if you are dumb as an old shoe or super, super smart, you get driven up to El Paso to see a specialist who can confirm what everyone already knows. I’ve been taken there twice, once because I’m smart and once because I’m dumb. After only a few years of life in Jumbo, I’ve come to a conclusion. There’s a thin line between genius and bottom-barrel stupidness. I hover delicately on a tightrope between the two, wondering where I’ll land if I ever fall.

People think Merilee is missing a marble or two – that there isn’t much in her heard. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Merilee has a lot going on in her head, but she has trouble articulating it out loud. She’s fascinated by dragons so much that people call her the dragon girl. She writes in her journal all the interesting things going on around her. She also has a very scheduled, very ordered existence. She calls it her VOE. It’s not mentioned outright in the novel, but she has Asperger’s, which explains her need for order. It also explains how she has no close friends, but is totally okay with that. She likes her life the way it is.

Then two people enter her life and shake things up. The first one is a new kid named Biswick. He likes Merilee a lot and begins following her around asking her lots of questions. Biswick’s father is a drunk poet who doesn’t pay much attention to Biswick, except for being mean to him. The second one is a lady named Veraleen, who came back to town after being gone a while. She takes care of Biswick and helps Merilee too. Despite her desire to keep her life exactly the way it is, Merilee begins to see how friendship may not be so bad after all.

There is so much more going on in this story- much more than I can succinctly describe here. I love the setting (I’m a sucker for my home state, as you know). I love the way the Marfa Lights were incorporated. I love the authentic and full of life, quirky characters. It’s a rich, beautiful novel that I’m glad to have spent time with. Suzanne Crowley is a gifted storyteller, for sure!

Check out her website here. I can't wait to read her latest book. Doesn't it look intriguing!


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Wendy Mass. 11 BIRTHDAYS.


I love it when I refrain from reading a book’s description before reading it. I like going in with no spoilers. With this book, I knew I loved the author and the cover looked cute, so I just jumped right in. Yay, I’m glad I did that because I got to be surprised at the plot. Now, how do I write the review so that you too will be surprised….I’m not really sure. So, if you don’t want spoilers, stop reading now.
Amanda and Leo were born on the same day. Since their parents met through unusual circumstances at the hospital on the day of their birth, they’ve celebrate every single birthday together. However, at last year’s birthday, when they turned 10, they had a fight. They haven’t spoken since then. Amanda wakes up on their 11th birthday a little worried about having separate parities. Will anyone show up to hers? Leo has a band, a hypnotist, a football star and all kinds of fun stuff planned for his party. She’s just having a lame costume party. She wants the day to be over quickly.
She falls asleep after suffering through her birthday party, where people actually leave to go join Leo’s party, and the strangest thing happens.
She wakes up and it’s her birthday again. She must live through the entire day again. And again. And then again. She decides to try to figure things out and hopefully stop the madness.
I really enjoyed this twist on the Groundhog Day theme. I enjoyed putting the clues together with Amanda and Leo. It was an intriguing story that all ages will enjoy!


Wendy Mass always writes original stories with realistic characters. Here are a few more reviews of her books:
EVERY SOUL A STAR
A MANGO-SHAPED SPACE
HEAVEN LOOKS A LOT LIKE THE MALL

Check out her website here.