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Showing posts from February, 2017

All The Bright Places

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Niven. J. (2015). All the bright places. New York, NY: Ember
Finch and Violet meet at the top ledge of their high school; both determined to end it all for different reasons. Finch is obsessed with suicidal thoughts, but Violet struggles to see her future because of her sister's recent death.  After their meeting on the ledge, Finch arranges for Violet to be his partner for a geography project: they are to explore the state of Indiana together.  This assignment brings them closer, and they eventually become an item.  Throughout the novel, Finch battles with depression and what seems to be a type of bipolar behavior, even though he doesn't acknowledge it.  Violet seems to have small breakthroughs that lead toward a life of promise in the midst of dating Finch, who she wishes she understood more, and parents who refuse to talk about her sister's death. At the end of this story, Finch secludes himself from his friends, family, and Violet, and loses his battle with depression.…

The Coldest Girl In Coldtown

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Black, H. (2013). The coldest girl in coldtown. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company
Tana lives in a world where vampires have been quarantined to avoid the creation of more vampires. However, after a party, she wakes up to a house full of dead bodies. Tana finds that she was somehow spared in a vicious vampire attack along with her ex boyfriend, Aiden, who was bitten (and is now infected), and a vampire named Gavriel. To become a vampire, one would drink human blood and complete the cycle. The only way to be "cured" of this infection is to not drink blood for eighty-eight days. While Tana makes her escapes, a vampire manages to scratch her leg with his fang dooming her with the infection.  She knows that going to a place where people don't return is her only choice to save Aiden and herself.  She is accompanied by two vampire-obsessed friends, who later betray her. And one becomes a vampire.  And when she learns that her sister has gone to Coldtown to save her, Tana r…

Annie On My Mind

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Garden, N. (1982). Annie on my mind. Canada: HarperCollins Cantada Ltd.
Nancy Garden tells a story of a blossoming love between two girls through the eyes of Eliza, or Liza, a girl who is in her senior year. She meets Annie at the library and later develops a relationship with her that blossoms into love, and they become lovers.  Liza and Annie both come from loving families, but know that this is not a relationship they can express publicly.  When Liza offers to house sit for her teachers, she and Annie explore their love for each other, but are found out when Liza's teachers return and find them, a neighbor, and another follow student at the door.  This puts a strain in their relationship because Liza and Annie are forced to part ways despite their feelings for each other. The girls still think about each other and are granted an opportunity to rekindle their relationship during winter break, which is Liza's first semester at college.

This story of loves transpires in a much…

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian

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Alexie, S. & Forney, E. (2007). The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.
Sherman Alexie delivers this autobiographical story about Arnold Spirit's memories as a freshman in high school with brutal honesty, sadness, and humor. After deciding to leave his reservation to attend a better high school 22 miles away, Junior struggles in gaining self confidence, sees the goodness of strangers, and lives with the hatred of his own people, even his best friend, Rowdy. By reluctantly trying out for the basketball team, he see he is worthy of playing well - even against his best friend. Junior appreciates the harsh reality of what it means to be Indian in a white world - and finds peace with that.

Alexie is a brilliant writer who has somehow uncovered the brutal truth of what it's like to struggle with what it means to live a life of a people who have been neglected for generations. Alcoholism, domestic violence, death, and a defeated m…

Persepolis

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Satrapi, M.  (2004) Persepolis. New York, NY: Pantheon.
Marjane Satrapi relays her childhood story during the late 70s, 80s, and early 90s in Iran.  The comic book format of this novel welcomes a quick read; however, the content is definitely for young adults.  Marji shares how her family had to hide from radicals, defend her right to learn what she thinks is important, and her desire to speak out and defend her individuality and beliefs in dangerous situations.  She also weaves historical facts about the overthrowing of the Shah, the Iranian revolution and the war with Iraq.  As Marji experiences the violent changes around her, she explains how her views, thoughts, and beliefs begin to change.  Ultimately, her parents send her to Austria to live with friends, and she fears she will never see them again.
Satrapi blends pictures with dialogue to portray scary and violent experiences for a child.  It also displays how God was an important entity in her childhood, but how personal disill…

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

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Angleberger, T. (2010). The strange case of Origami Yoda, New York, NY: Abrams
Tom Angleberger brings characters like Dwight, Harvey, and Tommy to life in this hilarious story about how Dwight, who's a quirky student, creates a Yoda made out of origami.  Origami Yoda takes on its own persona and helps different students with situations, questions, and doubts about how to deal with middle school issues - from being called a Cheeto Hog to knowing the word that will win the Spelling Bee.  Angleberger presents Tommy's quest to discover the validity of Origami Yoda by presenting a series of vignettes that detail everyone's experience with Origami Yoda.  Tommy discovers that, even though there are those who may doubt Origami Yoda's true power, like Harvey (and even Dwight himself), Origami Yoda has a life of its own.
This is book one of a series of six different books that surround the Star Wars theme. This first installment is written in a way that students on the lower end o…

Gabi A Girl In Pieces

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Quintero I. (2014) Gabi: a girl in pieces. El Paso, TX: Cinco Puntos Press.
Quintero opens a teenage girl's world through the eyes of Gabi - a girl who's in the middle of American and Mexican, of skinny and fat, and of boys and academics. The book is arranged as Gabi's diary and describes her relationship with her friends and the dynamic she shares with her family.  As she shares high school experiences, we see how she begins to disclose her fears, her dreams, and her ideals for her world.  Quintero also incorporates poetry as an outlet for Gabi, which enriches the text in a poetic sense.

Gabi defies cultural clich├ęs and stigmas.  As a first generation American citizen, I found comfort, and even justification, through Quintero's exploration of the Mexican-American culture in America. Gabi's view of the world allowed me to create connections to my fears as a woman, how I saw the world as a teenager, and even as I see it now. This is a book for a more mature audience…

Monster

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Myers, W. D. (1999). Monster. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers. Walter Dean Myers writes a story in a way of a screenplay. This is Steve Harmon's first-person account of life in prison during his trial.  Steve is accused of being an accomplice in the murder of a store clerk, but he claims he's innocent. In order to tell his story, and to bear with his reality, Steve writes his experiences as a movie.  Furthermore, Myers adds journal entries to depict Steve's emotional strife and his desire to detach himself from such a life and reputation. Steve also perceives that his own lawyer is struggling with believing that her client is truly innocent but pushes through to defend him until trial is over. Steve struggles with his identity, disappointing his parents, and the reality of his choices.  As a reader, it's difficult for me to ascertain whether Steve is truly innocent or guilty by association.  And the end of the novel can be argued to have the same feelings of unce…