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Archive for the ‘Jennifer E. Smith’ Category

Alice bought Teddy a lottery ticket for his 18th birthday. It was a lark, a gag gift. But of course, as you can guess, it was a winning ticket–$141 million, $50+ million if taken in a lump sum.  Both Alice and Teddy have had their share of trouble. Alice’s parents died when she was young, within 13 months of each other. At the age of nine, she was uprooted from her California home and relocated to Chicago, to live with her Uncle Jake (her dad’s brother), Aunt Sophia and cousin Leo. Teddy’s gambler father walked out on him and his mother, draining their bank accounts, forcing them to move into a small one bedroom apartment, pinching pennies to get by. So, they deserve something good to happen.

Alice, in unrequited love with Teddy for ages, hopes that the Teddy she knows and loves is unchanged with his new found wealth, but of course, that isn’t the case. Suddenly he’s on a buying spree, buying everything he doesn’t need.

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith (author of The Comeback Season,  Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between, The Geography of You and Me, and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, among others)  is a ‘self discovery’ book. Alice, having a idealized memory of her parents, is trying to please them by doing volunteer work and applying to Stanford where her mother got accepted but could not attend. Is this what she really wants?

Her cousin Leo’s boyfriend is attending college in Michigan, where Leo is applying. But is that what he really wants?

And Teddy is spending money like he’s got millions, with no particular goal. Is that what he really wants?

The three teenagers all learn who they are and what family is in Windfall. As you read, I doubt you’ll be surprised by the end. It’s what you’d expect. It’s what I expected, but not what I wanted. I’m a big Jennifer E. Smith fan, beginning with her first book The Comeback Season, and you’re guaranteed a fun, readable story. But, in this instance, I wanted a surprise ending. I wanted her to go out on a limb. I wanted her to give us the unexpected, but I didn’t get it and that disappointed me. While the cliche is “it’s the journey, not the destination”,  in this instance I wanted the destination to warrant the journey and I didn’t quite get it. But still, I did have fun along the way.

SPOILER (maybe)

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I was rooting for the underdog!

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Sawyer!!!!!

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The Sun is Also a Star, a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Michael L. Printz Award, by Nicola Yoon is a new spin on love at first sight, love in a day, etc. Natasha Kingsley is trying to save her family from deportation back to Jamaica. Daniel Jae Won Bae is on his way to get his haircut before his Yale admissions interview when fate intervenes. Seeing her from afar, he is intrigued by her, her huge afro, her absorption in the music she’s listening to through her big headphones.

TheSunIsAlsoAStar

Shy, he can’t go up to her and introduce himself, but fate steps in again when he saves her from being hit by a car as she crosses the street. Daniel, the poet, has fallen in love. Natasha, the pragmatist and scientist, hasn’t come close.

But, events work themselves out and they spend the day together. Yoon not only tells their story, but also ancillary stories: the security guard at USCIS (U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service), the secretary for Natasha’s immigration lawyer, their parents and siblings. Chapters alternate between Daniel and Natasha, with asides about various people, theories, etc.

Yoon also explores the complicated Korean American family dynamics and Jamaican American family dynamics–the thought of greener pastures in America and the wish of immigrants that their children have a better life than they had.

Will Daniel go to Yale? Will Natasha stay in the United States? Will it require a parallel universe to keep these lovebirds together? The only way you’ll know is by reading The Sun is Also a Star.

For a similar, totally enjoyable book about love in a day, try Jennifer E. Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight.

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OK, so I have to put my two cents in. Is The Sun is Also a Star award worthy or finalist worthy? I don’t know. It certainly was an enjoyable read. The characters suck you in and never let go. It does deal with complicated issues such as family dynamics, parents forcing careers on their children, deportation, love. Yet, despite this, I found the book to be light and fluffy. Since both the National Book Award and the Michael L. Printz Award are “literary” awards, I’m not sure The Sun is Also a Star fits the categories. If this was a popularity contest, by all means. So, you decide for yourself. Let me know your thought.

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Clare and Aiden have 12 hours before she departs for Dartmouth in HelloGoodbyeNew Hampshire and he jets to Los Angeles to attend UCLA. The question that so many teens face but hasn’t been written much about in YA literature is what do they do. Having been dating for 2 years Aiden is of the impression that long distance romances can work and there are so many folks who have married their high school sweethearts. Clare, on the other hand, thinks that they should break up now, while on an up streak, rather than wait until it fizzles out over time and seeing each other on college breaks becomes awkward. However, Aiden, always the joker, hasn’t been keen on discussing this subject.

So, on their last night together in the suburbs of Chicago, Clare the anal one and list maker in the relationship, has created a list of places of importance to their relationship that they must visit before leaving for separate coasts. Aiden, the unromantic one of the duo, isn’t quite sure what occurred at some of these spots but he’s going along with Clare.

In the 12 hours from 6 PM to 6 AM the next day, Clare and Aiden come to a decision. Along with this, readers get a glimpse of both Aiden’s and Clare’s parents, who play a major role in how the teens react to their situation. Additionally, they get to know their best friends, Scottie and Stella, who also impact their decision.

ComebackSeaspmHello, Goodbye and Everything in Between is a great title because the book is a 12 hour roller coaster of emotions. Should they? Shouldn’t they? Saying goodbye to friends and family is tough even if it isn’t permanent.

I’ve been a fan of Jennifer E. Smith from The Comeback Season, to StatisticalProbabilityThe Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight to Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between. While at the beginning of the book, it wasn’t my favorite, by the time I got to the end, it was high on the list (I think The Comeback Season will always be my favorite since it was my first (and her first) Smith book). You know what to expect with Smith. A great story. Great characters. A great ending. And possibly a teary eye at the end.

I’d put Jennifer E. Smith up there with Sarah Dessen, and new favorites Emery Lord and Morgan Matson.

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For those of you who haven’t become jaded regarding Valentine’s Day or those of you who want vicarious romance, here are a few good teen romance authors.

There are the old standbys like Sarah Dessen, Julie Anne Peters and Jennifer E. Smith. But there are a few new authors on the horizon. Morgan Matson, Sara Farizan, Emory Lord and Nina LaCour. Here are some books from the newer authors for you..books you might not have heard of

TellMeAgainTell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan – Leila, an Iranian American teen, attends a private high school, where her parents have high expectations for her future. She has made it to her junior year without romance complicating her life, and that’s just fine with her. Leila would just as soon not have everyone find out that she likes girls. But when beautiful, confident, worldly Saskia breezes into the narrator’s life, everything turns upside down.

LastForeverThe Last Forever by Deb Caletti – After a trying bout with cancer, Tess’s mother has died, but she’s left behind a one-of-a-kind pixiebell plant. When her impulsive, pot-smoking, less-than-dependable father takes her on an extended road trip to the Grand Canyon, Tess brings the plant with her, but keeping it alive during their journey through the desert is a struggle. Unexpectedly, Tess’s father brings her to the home of his mother, an artist Tess barely remembers. Tess is in for some life-changing lessons about old family grudges and secrets held by new acquaintances, including a boy who makes it his mission to help Tess save the withering pixiebell, and wins her heart in the process.

SecondChanceSummerSecond Chance Summer by Morgan Matson – Seventeen-year-old Taylor and her family-her mother, father, older brother, and younger sister-are off to the Poconos for the summer, whether everyone wants to or not. Taylor falls in the latter category. Returning to their lake house after a five-year absence fills her with dread: she’ll have to face her estranged best friend as well as the boy she left without saying goodbye.

 

EverythingLeadsToYouEverything Leads to You by Nina LaCour – Eighteen-year-old production design intern Emi is getting over her first love and trying to establish her place in the Los Angeles film industry. Set during the summer before her freshman year of college, Emi spends days designing sets for a blockbuster, and, later, a low-budget indie film (complicated by the presence of her ex, also working on both films). When she and her best friend Charlotte find a letter hidden in the possessions of a recently deceased Hollywood film legend at an estate sale, they begin searching for its intended recipient. Eventually that leads to Ava, a beautiful teen to whom Emi is immediately attracted.

OpenRoadSummerOpen Road Summer by Emery Lord – Reagan joins her best friend Delilah’s summer concert tour to escape some poor decisions and break some bad habits, finding romance and complication instead.

 

 

 

 

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I found a list somewhere of books that take place in one day and thoughtTheBestYearOf YourPatheticLife that was intriguing. I remembered liking Jennifer E. Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (actually I like all her books) so thought I’d follow the list a little and see what happens. The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando was the first book I read from the list.

Oyster Point’s high school’s senior class has a tradition, unsanctioned by the school. A week before school ends, there is The Hunt. It’s a scavenger hunt organized by the winner’s of the previous year’s Hunt. Mary, a good student, never any trouble, has decided that she’s going to enter, despite the fact that, if her mother found out, she’d be grounded for eternity.

Her team, made up of students on the fringe, included Mary’s long time friends, Winter who is her best girlfriend, Patrick her best boy friend and Dez, who everyone assumes is gay but nobody talks about it. There are two rounds: in order to qualify for Round 2, you need at least 1250 points in Round 1.

With Patrick driving them around town in his LeSabre, the quartet individually and together tackle some issues, the least of which is they will all be going off in different directions at the end of the summer.

Mary is angry because she didn’t get into Georgetown and Barbone, a ‘dumb jock’ did. He ‘stole’ her spot. In addition, Mary and Patrick her friend-date for the prom had an awkward situation there. Mary is crushing on Carson, who has a girlfriend, Jill, but rumor has it that it won’t be for long and she thinks he may like her. Hey, they spent a lot of time together on prom committee. Barbone and Dez have a, not altogether friendly, history.

The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life started off a little slow but picked up in the middle and by the end I couldn’t wait to see what happened. The mechanics of the story were good-text messages of the Yeti (the trophy for the winner) advising them of various new items for the hunt, giving clues, etc. made the story that much more exciting. The emotions of the characters were real enough and anyone who remembers their high school years can relate to the need to remember those years as good ones.

While I liked the Smith book a lot better (she’s a more exciting writer), The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life was a pleasant, enjoyable read.

 

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There is just something so nice about a Jennifer E. Smith book. You go in knowing it’ll be fun and GeographyOfYouAndMeromantic and you smile all the way through, knowing love will triumph in the end. And so it goes with The Geography of You and Me. (This isn’t a spoiler because all her books are feel good books.)

My first exposure to Smith’s books, the one that got me hooked was The TheComebackSeasonComeback Season. It was sad at times but I loved it. So, start there and keep going. The Geography of You and Me is a tad like her previous book, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight or how one moment can change everything.StatisticalProbability

In the current book, Lucy and Owen, who don’t really know each other are in a stuck elevator. There’s a power outage in New York City. It is completely dark. After being liberated, they spend the next 12 or so hours with each other, sleeping on the roof of their apartment building, looking at the stars.  Then, for some reason, fate sets in and they don’t see each other. Was it love? Was it nothing? Was there even a connection?

You’ll love the characters. You’ll love the teenage angst. You’ll love the plot.

I was thinking last night that some authors are so steady. Smith reminds me of Sarah Dessen. Their books are love stories. You know what’s coming but you don’t care. It’s not the destination. It’s the journey. You finish one and you can’t wait for the next one. Treat yourself to a fun read.

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Okay, I admit it. I like teen chick lit…well, some of it anyway. Sarah Dessen has always topped the list and I used to get ARCs of her books to review from VOYA. I’d have to finish it in a hurry so Abbe could read it. You know what you’re getting, but that’s okay. Her books are good any time of year, but they’re great beach reads.

HappySo is This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith. If Smith isn’t a teen household name, she should be. Her books are fun and well written. Happy is her latest. Ellie and Graham find out what happens when an email goes to a total stranger. Taking place in Maine, it’s got all the trappings of a good beach read, including a beach.  There’s mystery, romance, picnics, 4th of July festivals. I rest my case.

Smith’s other books that I read include The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and The Comeback Season.

Sarah Dessen’s latest love story, The Moon and More, is coming out in early June. Of course I’ve got my TheMoonAndMorereserve in on that one. But if you’re longing for a good romance, try her previous book, Along for the Ride. Lately she’s been referring to previous characters or situations in her new books, so maybe start from the beginning and see how many embedded references you can find.

I”m sure there are other Beach Read favorites that I have but I can’t think of them at the moment. I’m sure they’ll come to me but in the meantime, let me know your Teen Chick Lit-Beach Read favorites.

By the way, look at yourself in the mirror when you read This is What Happy Looks Like, because, indeed, it is.

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