Tuesday, December 8, 2015

December 2015 Post #3 by Jason Phinney

And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard-240 pages

A teen girl ends up at a boarding school (the same school as Emily Dickinson) after her boyfriend committed suicide in her public school library. The girl had just told her boyfriend that she wanted to break up and was pregnant with his child, but had decided (more like her parents decided for her) to have an abortion. The story is about the girl recovering from the trauma and trying to fit in at her new school. 

Baseball in April by Gary Soto-128 pages

This is a collection of short stories about different young Hispanics growing up. "Baseball in April" is the main story, though. The stories are very simple, yet compelling. 

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King-368 pages

This is a weird novel about a girl named Glory who eats "bat dust" with her best friend and they both gain the ability to see into the future. Glory journals about her "visions." Each girl reacts to the visions differently. The story is also about teens and relationships with parents and peers. Glory's mother committed suicide when she was young and her mother was an avid photographer. Glory gets into photography as well. In the end, Glory and her best friend graduate from high school, but her best friend leaves with her mom and her mom's boyfriend. Other complicated relationships are involved, as well. 

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein-352 pages

I enjoyed reading this novel. I enjoy historical fiction and this was no different. This novel is about two British (one Scottish, one English) teens who are pilots and spies during WWII. There were female spies and/or pilots during WWII, but the ones from this story are fictional. Code Name Verity is a cool story about the two girls who meet, go on missions together (the last is especially important and goes awry), and become friends.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline-400 pages

I really enjoyed reading this novel and it was a page-turner. If you enjoy video games and/or '80s pop culture, then this is a novel you will enjoy. The creator of the most popular video game(s) passes away and leaves an "easter egg" hunt/game for the world to try to win. The one who wins gets the creator's entire estate (worth a lot of money). The story is about a teen boy who is poor, but desperately wants to win (and does) the game first. The setting is post-apocalyptic and the poor live in mobile home towers.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman-181 pages

This was a strange, yet interesting fantasy novel about a man who returns to his boyhood home for a funeral and flashes back to his adventures as a boy. It reminds me a bit of "Bridge to Terabithia," but is quite different in many ways. The neighbors are three women (a grandmother, mother, and daughter about the boy's age) who have magical powers and get the boy out of a sticky situation with an evil witch. The pond in the neighbor's back yard is actually an "Ocean," hence the title. The neighbor girl goes into the "ocean" to save the protagonist and is still there when he returns years later.

Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn-224 pages

Charm & Strange is a story about coping with abuse. A teen boy ends up at a boarding school away from his family because his father sexually abused him as a boy and to cope with it the protagonist creates a story in his mind that he is a werewolf. It was not one of the funnest reads and I did not enjoy reading it.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie-240 pages

This was an enjoyable novel about a teen on a reservation who decides to leave the "res school" and go to a "White" school. He is a good basketball player and makes the team at the "White" school. The novel details the teen's experience living on the reservation and going to the "White" school.

It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini-448 pages

This is an interesting read about a teen who checks himself into a mental hospital after contemplating suicide. His experiences at the mental hospital with other patients and his journey to accepting his life are chronicled.

Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher-368 pages

Logan Witherspoon has yet to recover from his last girlfriend cheating on him and breaking up with him. When he meets Sage Hendricks, he immediately likes her and eventually falls in love with her and begins to recover from his heartbreak. He finds out, however, that Sage is a transgender and, at first is taken aback. The story is about finding acceptance (Sage's parents still regard her as a boy and are not on board with him being a woman) and love and about Logan eventually coming to accept and love Sage for who she is.

Ash by Malinda Lo-272 pages

This is a retelling of the Cinderella story from a new angle. In this story, "Cinderella" (Ash) falls in love with the Huntress instead of the prince. It is well-written and interesting.

The Arrival by Shaun Tan-128 pages

This is a picture book about a family's experience immigrating to a new country. The father arrives first and his wife and daughter arrive later. It is a cool, symbolic story that echoes the experience many immigrants have had moving to a new country (whether America, Europe, or Australia, etc.). The author's parents immigrated to Australia either before he was born or when he was young.

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol-240 pages

This is a teen graphic novel about Anya who falls into a pit and meets a ghost living there. The ghost tells her a story about how she was murdered and goes home with her. However, Anya eventually figures out that it was the ghost who murdered her family. The story is also about overcoming bullying (Anya is of Russian descent and is made fun of at school) and finding acceptance/one's place.

Mercury by Hope Larson-240 pages

In this graphic novel, a teen moves back home to Canada with her Aunt while her mother is away working in the present day. In the past, a stranger comes in contact with her ancestors and convinces them to prospect for gold on their property. He attempts to marry one of the daughters, but is not given blessing from the father. He kills the father and much of the prospected gold is left buried near the teen's present day property/home. In the end, the teen finds the buried gold in the present day.

Courage has no Color by Tanya Lee Stone-160 pages

This is the true story of the "Triple Nickles." They were the first African-American paratroopers during WWII. Stone's book is an easy read that feels more like reading a novel than a nonfiction book (it is meant for a children's/teen audience).

Darkroom by Lila Quintero Weaver-264 pages

This is a graphic memoir about Weaver's experience growing up as a Latina in Alabama in the 1960's. One particularly interesting part is her perspective on the Civil Rights movement. She takes up photography just as her father had (he was also a preacher). It is the story of her perception of growing up in "Jim Crow" South as neither black nor white and her struggle to find her place in a new, foreign country (she and her family moved from Buenos Aires, Argentina when she was 5).

A.D. 30 by Ted Dekker-432 pages

This is a great novel (Dekker is my favorite author). It really changed my perspective on life and what it is to live as a Christian. The story is about a nomadic tribal woman in the Middle East who is tasked with saving her father and "kingdom" after it is attacked and taken by a rival tribe. Her task is to go to King Herod and take a relic of the past to plead for aid, but she meets Jesus along the way and it changes her life forever.

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