Well written and painful to read. James worms his way into the reader’s heart so that you hope for a happy ending despite the foreshadowing. Goodman creates characters that are recognizable and possibly amalgams of real people he worked with in the juvenile justice facilities in New York. Even some of the stereotypes ring true within the lockdown setting. As a librarian, it was heartbreaking to read about the restriction on reading materials for the inmates of the detention center.
This story reads like Newbery award winners like The Higher Power of Lucky, and the Joey Pigza series insomuch as the main character, Sarah Nelson, is growing up with toxic adults and trying to make sense of her life.
Sarah and her father move from town to town to avoid reporters and unwanted recognition. Ten years ago, something snapped inside her mother and she attempted to drown Sarah and her twin brother, Simon. Although Sarah survived, both of her parents went on trial; her mother was sentenced to a locked mental facility and her father was cleared of charges and took full custody of Sarah.
As Sarah grew, she began to understand the power of words; there are danger words (like CRAZY and DRUNK) that you can’t say even when they are true, there are favorite words like STEALTH and REPRIEVE that Sarah uses to describe herself in different parts of the story.
Sarah’s world is interwoven with her favorite book (her most constant friend), To Kill a Mockingbird. She writes to Atticus Finch because he is a dependable adult figure to give her guidance when her own father is unavailable.
Sarah struggles to become her own woman as she reaches out to others around her like her neighbor, Charlotte, Sarah describes as,”…flawless and different…” and the retired Mrs. Dupree advising Sarah, “…’everytime you buy a new blouse or some wrinkle cream to make you look good, go and buy a book right away. It’s just as important to keep your mind beautiful, don’t you think?’” (p.196)
This is a powerful read and lends itself to classroom discussion as well as vocabulary. The subject matter may rub parents the wrong way, so be warned. Of course, if it weren’t controversial, it wouldn’t be much fun to read. :)
Wow, I read a book intended for adults! Although this was a bestseller years ago, and it has been “on my list” it took me all this time to read it. If your older teen likes historical fiction (or history), they will enjoy the memoir of Francis McCourt.
The very best take away from this book was a quote from the headmaster of the school in Limerick, “You have to study and learn so that you can make up your own mind about history and everything else but you can’t make up an empty mind.” (p. 208 McCourt) Just remember parents, there are many straightforward (although I wouldn’t describe them as explicit) descriptions of sex and masterbation. In my opinion, Frank McCourt approach sexuality, religion, poverty, illness and death in the same straightforward manner and I think this book would be totally appropriate for an upper high school class. I think this will be considered a classic (if it isn’t already).
In this tale, Danny is fed up with his irresponsible parents and the fact that they each want to follow their own dreams. Danny flees the house where his parents have packed up his belongings and given away his dog. He runs with his backpack in tow (which is lucky) and falls into an enormous hole on a construction site (which is unlucky).
During his time in the hole Danny meets a talkative mole (his mother would call him a ‘chatterbox’). This is the only fantastical part of the story and the reader is left wondering if Danny has a better imagination than his family gives him credit for. There is more action than you might imagine, being trapped in a hole, but we are all glad to be out of it in the end.
Danny’s parents were grateful to have him back, and all of his things were back in his room but Danny is ready for a new adventure. I felt unsure as to what would happen with the family’s plan to move but I don’t think I’m interested enough to hope for a sequel.
This is a good story to open a discussion about change, imagination, the differences in family members.
This cleverly titled story does not disappoint. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised to find some intrigue and corporate espionage in what I expected to be a simple teen romance. This was a fun, fast paced read with some bits you just have to forgive for being convenient to the plot. I enjoyed the story but an app like that would be downright dangerous around teens.
Todd Mitchell’s new book Backwards is not for the faint of heart as he tackles the difficult subject of suicide. This story is well paced and unravels like a sweater that was snagged on the opening suicide tableaux. The reader discovers Dan’s past and must piece together the clues with the help of the narrator and his friend TR.
This format of learning Dan’s story backwards reminds me of the film Momento
(which I also recommend).