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Archive for the ‘Young Adult’ Category

IfYouCouldBeMineIt boggles my mind that a country could accept (and even pay for) sex change operations yet consider homosexuality a sin. Apparently there is nothing in the Bible that says a person can’t change the gender of his/her physical body, but there is something that says having sexual relations with a person of the same sex is a mortal sin.

Sara Farizan in her debut novel, If You Could Be Mine makes this abundantly clear as seventeen year old Iranians Sahar and Nasrin are in love but must keep their feelings secret. It comes as quite a shock, especially to Sahar, when it is announced that Nasrin’s parents have promised her hand in marriage to a doctor, Reza. The wedding is in three months. Sahar cannot think of living life without Nasrin and while Nasrin says they can still see each other after the wedding, Sahar knows it can never be.

Sahar contemplates all options to cancel the wedding and claim Nasrin as her own, including undergoing the long and painful sex changes operations. She is introduced to transgenders through her cousin, Ali, who is gay. None of these people say life is easy after the changes, but at least they are in the body they should have been born into.

Sahar wonders whether her father, who has been in a depression for the several years since Sahar’s mother died, would even notice if one day she came home sporting a beard. Or would he disown her?

This is certainly a new and relevant twist on teenage sexuality. Sahar and Nasrin are two distinct personalities, one serious and determined, the other flighty and always in need of attention. So, it comes as no surprise, although in my mind it was a bit far-fetched, that Sahar should consider drastic measures to keep Nasrin. Farizan also brings up the question: would someone who loves you romantically as a woman, feel the same way if you were a man? Good question!

While, if you read this blog regularly, you know my absolute favorite books on this subject, If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan is certainly up there on the list. It is an absorbing read.

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EverythingLeadsToYouThe summer time is a time for romance and Nina LaCour supplies it in Everything Leads to You. Morgan has just broken up with Emi for the sixth time but they can’t avoid each other since they work at the same movie studio, designing sets. Emi’s best friend Charlotte works there as well.

It is the summer after high school and Morgan, Emi and Charlotte are working on the same movie. While looking for pieces for a set at an estate sale at the home of a famous and reclusive cowboy actor, Clyde Jones, Charlotte buys a Patsy Cline album as a souvenier. At home she takes it out to listen and a letter drops out. Reading it, Emi and Charlotte discover it is to Clyde’s daughter, Caroline, a daughter no one knew he had. It also refers to his grand daughter, Ava. Charlotte and Emi decide they need to find Caroline and give her the letter.

From the above, you can’t tell this is a love story, but it is, trust me. Giving any more away will ruin it. Charlotte and Emi spend the summer working on a movie, searching for Caroline and Ava and staying in Emi’s brother, Toby’s, apartment while he is away in Europe scouting locations for another movie. His parting words were, “Do something epic while I’m gone.” And indeed they do.

Emi is a great character, self confident in her work, but crumbling at Morgan’s advances to get back together. I’m assuming most people can relate to that. She’s also unsure of her new love, who Ms. LaCour doesn’t hide, but I will. The trio of Emi, Charlotte and Morgan are talented and they bring to light how rooms in movies are decorated, something we rarely think about.HoldStill

There are no surprises (well maybe some surprises) in Everything Leads to You, but there doesn’t have to be to make this a fun book. It is your classic beach read.

If you’re looking for something from Nina LaCour with a little more ‘meat’ in it, try Hold Still. In my Librarything review, I likened it to 13 Reasons Why and the Hate List. No bad company, huh?

 

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BreakfastServedAnytimeAs I was reading Breakfast Served Anytime, Sarah Combs’ debut novel, I wasn’t sure what I thought of it. I liked the beginning, got a little bogged down in the middle and then had the epiphany at the end. The book is going to mean different things to different people.

Kentucky born and raised, Gloria Bishop got accepted to Geek Camp, sponsored by the University of Kentucky for four weeks after her junior year. Her course: Secrets of the Written Word. Trying to attract and retain in Kentucky its best students, those accepted get a full four year scholarship upon graduating high school. Gloria’s best friend, Caroline, is off to New York for ballet during the summer, the plan being that they both hit the Big City for college.

Gloria is, however, a shy girl and finds anticipation of exciting and extraordinary events sometimes more exciting than the events themselves. Upon checking into her dorm, she immediately forms judgments on her roommate, Jessica, (rich, confident, huggy and not Gloria’s type) and the first guy she sees from her dorm window, nicknamed the Mad Hatter, for obvious reasons (obnoxious, self-absorbed). It turns at that the Mad Hatter is one of four people in Secrets of the Written Word. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

However, in one respect I will give a spoiler. Although this takes place in high school, it reminded me of middle school and Merle J (I wonder where she is now). Somehow, we decided that Merle was my ‘best enemy’.  We used to taunt and torment each other constantly throughout middle school…yet always with an underlying smile. I wonder what that really meant. So Merle, if you’re reading…. (I’ll let you guess who I’m referring to in the book.)

I can’t remember if I’ve ever read a book taking place in Kentucky. So, while writing a book about camaraderie and friendship, Combs also manages to throw in the issue of coal mining vs. the environment in a manner many of us don’t typically think about.

I’m not going to comment on the Breakfast Served Anytime part of the book. You can find out for yourselves its significance. Neither will I comment on the blue butterflies on the cover, other than to say that, according to the book, they have a life span of 115 days.

So, my final thoughts on Breakfast Served Anytime? I liked it, primarily because it brought back memories that I hadn’t thought about in decades…and pleasant memories at that. For you ‘mature’ YA lit readers, I’d love to know what memories the book might have rekindled. And, for you YA YA lit readers (if I have any following this blog), I’d like to know the same thing. Lastly, what can be bad about a place serving breakfast any time?

Having said that, I’m off to bake Snikerdoodles. A place serving dessert any time can’t be bad either, huh?

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A child’s guilt can be overwhelming and so it is with fifteen year old Francesca (Frankie) Schnell. SummerOfLettingGoFour years ago, while at the beach with her parents, her four year old brother, Simon, drowned. She and Simon were building a sand castle. She went to the beach blanket where her parents were sleeping, looking for food. When she turned around her brother was at the water’s edge, then he was caught by a wave. Frankie was stunned into inaction. Her father, hearing her scream, runs into the water but Simon couldn’t be saved. Frankie hasn’t swam since.

It is four years later. Frankie’s guilt is still in full force. She thinks her mother, who ignores her and spends most of her time at a foundation created in Simon’s memory, blames her and hates her. She’s jealous of her girlfriend, Lisette, who is gorgeous and has the boyfriend that Frankie yearns for.

Having snuck into the local country club pool (for reasons I won’t tell you), she sees a four year old boy dive into the deep end of the pool and look like he’s going to drown. She is paralyzed into inaction and Peter, the lifeguard, jumps in. As the boy’s mother drags him away, they almost bump into Frankie and the little boy asks “Who she?” Frankie introduces herself. It seems that his name in Frankie as well.

The next day, Francesca is called into the office of the pool’s owner. Afraid she’s going to be arrested for sneaking into the pool, she’s relieved when she finds out Frankie’s mother wants her to be a mother’s helper and help with Frankie during the summer.

All of this would generate a so-so book, but there’s more that pulled me into this book, The Summer of Letting Go. Little Frankie is the same age as Simon was when he drowned. Frankie looks like Simon, likes frogs just like Simon and has that same fearlessness. There’s more that I won’t tell you about.

Polisner explores the possibility of reincarnation/transmigration. Is it possible that Simon’s soul migrated into little Frankie? An interesting possibility. She also explores how people cope with pain. Each person in the Schnell household has dealt dramatically differently with Simon’s death. And finally, Polisner deals with a young girl’s self image and self doubt. Is Frankie pretty, especially compared to Lisette? Would any boy like her, especially the one she likes…who happens to be Lisette’s boyfriend?

The characters are all clear cut. They each have distinct personalities. I think it’s hard sometimes to create a four year old character, but little Frankie is cute, exasperating, funny, sad, just like a four year old and his sidekick dog, Potato, is just as cute.

There is a lot to think about in The Summer of Letting Go but Polisner does a fine job of putting all together in a cohesive, interesting, fun read. More that just a beach read, this book will make you think….which is what a good book should do. So, don’t let this summer go by without reading The Summer of Letting Go.

 

 

 

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LiesThere is something about a Julie Anne Peters novel that makes me keep on reading.  Lies My Girlfriend Told Me is soft and sweet. It is, in some ways, innocent and in some ways not. It’s got great characters and a good plot.

Alix’s mother wakes her up with really bad news. Her girlfriend, Swanee, died of cardiac arrest in the middle of her daily run. How can that happen to a 17 year old girl? They had only been going out six weeks. It wasn’t long enough. Now it will never be long enough. Alix is devastated.

While in Swanee’s room, after her death, Alix hears Swanee’s phone ping with a text message. It’s from L.T., whoever that is. There are dozens of texts: where are you, why didn’t you meet me, i love you….. Alix forces Swanee’s sister, Joss, to tell her who L.T. is. And it turns out, she’d rather not know, because Swanee was dating her at the same time she was dating Alix.

Alix steals the phone and, for two weeks, texts L.T. back, as if she was Swanee. But then she realizes that L.T. would want to know what happened and they meet.

That’s enough of the story to get you going. Lies My Girlfriend Told Me is tender. It’s realistic. It’s romantic. So, if you’re a Julie Anne Peters fan, if you’re a romantic, if you like a good story, then read Lies My Girlfriend Told Me. I couldn’t put it down.KeepingYouASecret

And let’s not forget my all time favorite Julie Anne Peters book, Keeping You a Secret. So, pack them both in your bag as you leave for vacation or the beach.

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StrangeAndBeautifulAlmost half way through the year, my vote for the strangest book you’ll read in 2014 is The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton. Only on page 22, but… The writing is different. The plot is different. The characters are surely different. Based on my 22 pages, I’m really going to enjoy this book. I bet you will too.

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WeAreTheGoldensWow!!! If anyone has read a great 200 page YA monologue, please let me know, because I haven’t…until now. I had no idea what We Are the Goldens was about. I only knew it was Dana Reinhardt so I automatically put it on my reading list.

Nelly and Layla are as close as two sisters should and could be. Only a year and a half apart, Nelly, the younger used to think their name was Nellayla, Nelly and Layla. They told each other everything…that is until Nelly became a freshman at City Day school where Layla was a junior. Then something changed. Oh sure, relationships change as sisters get older, but this was different, more severe.

Written as Nelly’s monologue to her sister, she describes in such realistic terms her anguish at the changing relationship between her and Layla, her confusion about high school and boys, and her concern over her sisters actions. Right and wrong for a teenager is not a clear-cut thing (it may not be clear to adults either) and We Are the Goldens explores this as Nelly grapples with Layla’s secret.

I could not put this book down. I stayed up late. I read up until the last minute of my lunch hour. It’s a short, fast read so it won’t take you long.

I was introduced to Dana Reinhardt’s books through A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life ABriefChapterwhich led me to become a fan. Other Reinhardt books I’ve read and loved are (which are all of her books that I’ve read):

How to Build a House

Things a Brother Knows

The Summer I Learned to Fly

If you are in the mood for something different, then I strongly suggest We Are the Goldens.

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