Teen Department Book Reviews Part II

Here is part two of the book reviews I wrote for my Teen Read Week book picks at the library.

 

 

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

 

Realistic Fiction

 

 

It is 1962 and twenty-two year old Skeeter has just graduated from Ole Miss with a degree in journalism, but her family won’t be happy until she has a ring on her finger.  Aibileen is a black maid raising her seventeenth white child.  Minny is also a maid, and she is one heck of a cook.  Unfortunately, she might also be the sassiest woman in Mississippi.  Because of this she has lost yet another job.  Seemingly very different, these three women come together for a very secret project that puts them all at risk.

 

This book was fantastic!  It was one of those stories that I was sorry to see end.  All of these women are very different, but find it in their hearts to come together for an extremely important project, exposing their white, female bosses for what they really are.  Skeeter is young and idealistic.  Aibileen is wise and loving.  Minny is not afraid to tell it like it is.  These three personalities both mesh and clash as they paint a picture of the South in 1962.  Excellent writing!

 

 

 

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

 

Realistic Fiction

 

 

 

This book is the first in the Confessions of Georgia Nicholson series.  It is a wildly funny journal of her thoughts on school, boys, and her enormous, half-wild, pet cat, Angus.  I did enjoy this book, but it was not my favorite.  It was very funny and Georgia’s experiences are very true-to-life.  The author is from England, so be prepared for British slang, such as snogging, which means kissing.  Overall, a very funny read.

 

 

 

Monster by Walter Dean Myers

 

Urban Fiction

 

 

Sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon is on trial as an adult accomplice to murder.  As he tries to make sense of what is going on, he uses his passion for film to present his trial as a screenplay.  Is Steve the Monster the prosecutor says he is or is he just a victim of circumstances?

 

I read this book for my Teen Literature class and I was very skeptical at first.  I’d never heard of a book being written as a screenplay before, but as soon as I started it, I found myself really enjoying it.  I found myself really sympathizing with Steve, who, it seems, was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.  This novel was very gritty and realistic. 

 

 

 

Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary Jacky Faber, Ship’s Boy by L.A. Meyer

 

Historical Fiction

 

 

 

 

Life as a ship’s boy aboard HMS Dolphin is a dream come true for Jacky Faber.  It sure beats scavenging for food and fighting for survival on the streets of London.  Jacky is becoming a respected sailor instead of a street urchin.  There is only one problem.  Jacky is a girl.  Can she keep the crew of the Dolphin from discovering her secret?

 

I am a big fan of historical fiction and this was no exception.  Jacky is a very likeable character and her misadventures while trying to keep from being discovered are very funny.  If you like pirates and adventure on the high seas, this is a book for you.

 

 

 

cut by Patricia McCormick

 

Realistic Fiction

 

 

This book follows Callie during her time as a “guest” at a local residential treatment facility, aka, the psychiatric hospital.  Callie has been cutting herself with sharp objects as a way to dull the pain of living with her damaged family.

 

This book was very good.  We follow Callie’s thoughts as directed to her therapist.  She thinks with a very flat affect, as befits someone who is unhappy with their situation.  Both Callie’s and the other girls’ problems come to seem like attempts to fight off both parental and societal obliviousness to their needs. 

 

 

 

Glass by Ellen Hopkins    

 

Realistic Fiction                     

 

 

 

 

This is the second book in the Crank trilogy by Ellen Hopkins.  In book one, Kristina Georgia Snow visits her estranged father and is introduced to the drug she calls the “monster”, otherwise known as crystal methamphetamine.  She adopts a sexy alter-ego named Bree and is the victim of a brutal date rape that leaves her pregnant.  In this book, Kristina is 17.  She has a convenience store job and baby Hunter to care for.  However, another visit to her father ensnares Kristina deeper into the “monster’s” clutches.

 

I have loved every single one of Ellen Hopkins’ books and this is no exception.  This is a gritty, realistic interpretation of an addiction to crystal meth and where it can lead you.  Hopkins is not afraid to tell things like they are and spares no one’s feelings or sensibilities in order to get her point across.  This is a fabulous book told in verse!  I loved every second of it!

 

 

 

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

 

Realistic Fiction

 

 

Anna isn’t sick, but she might as well be.  By age thirteen she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can fight leukemia.  Anna was conceived as a genetic bone marrow donor for Kate, which is a role she has never questioned…until now. 

 

I have read most of Jodi Picoult’s books and this was probably one of my favorites.  Picoult always writes about real life issues.  In this book, Anna is questioning whether it was right for her parents to have her, just so they could save their first child.  Anna feels that her parents only care for Kate, so she seeks medical emancipation, so she can decide whether or not she wants to help Kate.  This book has characters I could relate to and a twist ending I never saw coming.

 

 

 

Compromised by Heidi Ayarbe

 

Urban Fiction

 

 

Maya’s father is a con-man, but whenever his schemes go wrong, she has always found a scientific way to fix the problem.  When the law finally catches up to him, and foster care fails, Maya finds herself on the streets trying to find a long-lost aunt.  It is four hundred miles from Reno to Boise (where her aunt last lived) and every day it gets harder for Maya to reconcile what she has to do to survive with her morals.

 

I really enjoyed this book.  I initially picked it up because it was a pretty sizable novel, but it read very quickly.  I was ensconced in Maya’s world quite quickly, and found myself feeling sorry for her.  She has never known stability; she and her father are always running.  Life on the streets is very difficult, even with two companions, and the things that happen to them are almost never good.  This tugged at my heartstrings and made me realize what life is like for a runaway.

 

 

 

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

 

Historical Fiction

 

 

 

Set during World War II in Germany, this book tells the tale of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing books that the Nazis have marked for banning and burning.  Her foster father teaches her how to read and she shares her stolen books with friends during bombing raids and with the Jewish man hiding in their basement.

I couldn’t put this book down when I was reading it.  This was an excellent portrait of a very turbulent time in history, told through the eyes of Death himself.  I had never come across a book narrated by Death before and haven’t since, either.  I found it easy to identify with Liesel because she was very offended that books were being burned.  As a librarian, my job is to make sure things like that don’t happen and that’s the job that Liesel took upon herself, as well.  An excellent book!

 

What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones

Realistic Fiction

This book follows Sophie through her ninth-grade year of high school.  Sophie is boy-crazy and constantly crushing on someone new.  When she dances with a masked stranger at her high-school dance, she develops a crush that is taken to new heights.

Sophie is a portrait of a teenage girl.  Although her life is very nice compared to some, almost every girl has gone through the things that Sophie goes through in this book.  I really enjoyed this book because I recognized myself in ninth-grade.  I was extremely boy-crazy, often having three or four crazy crushes at a time.  This book really brought back high school for me, in a way that I enjoyed.

 

what my girlfriend doesn’t know by Sonya Sones

Realistic Fiction

This book is the sequel to What My Mother Doesn’t Know.  It picks up almost immediately where My Mother leaves off.  Robin, better known as Murphy, and Sophie have just spent an amazing winter break falling in love.  Now it’s time to go back to school and Robin is afraid that Sophie will ignore him, since he is an outcast.  However, when Sophie sits with him at lunch she becomes an outcast as well.  It is now Sophie and Robin against the world.  However, when Robin starts taking a college art class and they start spending some time apart, their relationship starts to fall apart as well.

I didn’t enjoy this book quite as much as the first one, but it was still good.  Written in free verse, just as the first one was, it follows Robin instead of Sophie.  It was nice to get the boy’s perspective, but it just didn’t resonate with me as much as Sophie’s story did.  This is a fun, quick read, but no more than that.

 

 

 

 

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Realistic Fiction

This is a book about being different and also being yourself.  When Stargirl first arrives at Mica High everyone loves her.  She captures Leo Barlock’s heart with just one smile.  Then the students turn on her.  Stargirl is suddenly shunned for everything that makes her herself, and Leo, desperate and in love, tries to make her become the very thing that could destroy her: normal.

This is another book I couldn’t put down.  I am a big fan of Maniac Magee, so I decided to try this book.  It was excellent.  It reminded me a little bit of me when I was in high school.  I was never loved like Stargirl, but I was definitely different.  Heart-wrenching at times, but ultimately happy, this was a wonderful book.

 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

Fantasy

This is the last book in the Harry Potter series.  In this volume, it is Harry’s last year at Hogwarts.  He decides not to go so he can look for Horcruxes in order to defeat Voldemort.  Ron and Hermione, his two best friends, accompany him on the search.

I bought this book the day it came out in July 2007.  However, I did not read it until this summer 2011.  I don’t think I wanted the series to be over!  I am glad I read it, however, because this might be the very best of the Harry Potter books.  It was full of adventure, magic, and heartbreak.  Harry loses people that are very dear to him and also comes closer and closer to defeating Voldemort.  This is a must read if you like Harry.

 

Glimpse by Carol Lynch Williams

Street Lit

Twelve-year-old Hope’s life is turned upside down when her older sister, Lizzie, becomes an elective mute and is institutionalized after trying to kill herself.  Lizzie and Hope have stuck together after the death of their father.  Their mother, who turns tricks to support the family, is unreliable at best.  Now, Hope does not know what to do.

Glimpse is written in free verse (do you sense a pattern here?  I like free verse.).  It is a heartbreaking novel about two girls whose mother is a prostitute to support the family.  However, all is not as it seems and the older girl tries to kill herself.  Most of the novel is spent trying to get Lizzie to speak again, so Hope knows why she tried to off herself.  I thought the reason was rather predictable, but the book was a good one overall.

 

The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith

 

 

The original Vampire Diaries is comprised of four different novels, Awakening, The Struggle, The Fury, and Dark Reunion.  With the debut of the television series, the books were marketed in two volumes, one containing the first two books and one containing the third and fourth.  It is Elena’s senior year in Fell’s Church, Virginia.  Her parents have died in a car crash, and she lives with her aunt and little sister.  When a strange, new boy, Stefan, shows up at school, Elena knows she has to have him.

I first read these when I was in seventh grade and I have bought both of these volumes to read them again.  I have already finished the first two books.  I have loved vampire tales for a long time because of these books.  They are exciting, romantic, and dark.  I highly recommend these for anyone who is a fan of the supernatural.  These books are the original Twilight.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Fantasy

After her mother gets remarried, 17-year-old Bella Swan goes to Forks, Washington to live with her father.  When she starts school, she notices a family that stands out from everyone else, the Cullens.  Bella comes to find out that the Cullens are vampires and falls in love with the one her age, Edward.

I thought Twilight was all right.  I honestly think I was spoiled by reading The Vampire Diaries when I was younger.  It took me three tries to get far enough into this book to finish it.  When I did I enjoyed it, but the last book was definitely the best of the bunch.  I liked Stephanie Meyer’s adult novel The Host, which is about aliens, much more than this.

 

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephanie Meyer

Fantasy

This book takes place during the timeline of Eclipse, the third book of the Twilight saga.  Victoria, the vampire whose lover Edward killed, is after Bella and the Cullens and is creating an army of newborn vampires.  Bree Tanner is one of these vampires and this novella is told through her eyes.

I read the rest of them so I had to read this one, too.  It wasn’t any better written than the other ones, but I did enjoy the story for what it was.  It gave me new insight into that section of Eclipse.  It was enjoyable, but nothing more than that.

 

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Futuristic Fiction

When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, young women are now being paid to become pregnant.  Sixteen-year-old twins, Melody and Harmony, were separated at birth and have never met until Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep.  Melody is almost perfect genetically: she has the looks, the smarts, and the conception contract of a lifetime, with Jondoe, the most desirable RePro of all.  Harmony comes from Goodside, a religious commune located somewhere around New Jersey and has spent her whole life preparing to be a wife and mother.  She believes her calling is to teach Melody that pregging for profit is a sin.  When a mix-up occurs, how will the sisters save themselves?

I love, love, loved this book!!  I can’t wait for the next one.  I am a huge fan of Megan McCafferty’s Jessica Darling series, so I picked up this book.  I loved every second of it.  The book explores many moral issues: Should teens be exploited for the reproductive ability?  Should you have a choice as to who you are intimate with?  What place should girls have in society?  It really made me think about women, both young and older, as people and our place in this world.  If you are squeamish about sex, this book may not be for you, but it is about so much more than that!  Excellent!!!

 

 

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