Showing posts with label young adult. Show all posts
Showing posts with label young adult. Show all posts

September 19, 2022

Shattering Glass by Gail Giles

Synopsis

"Simon Glass was easy to hate....I guess, really we each hated him for a different reason, but we didn't realize it until the day we killed him."

Fat, clumsy Simon Glass is a nerd, a loser who occupies the lowest rung on the high school social ladder. Everyone picks on him -- until Rob Haynes shows up. Rob, a transfer student with charisma to spare, immediately becomes the undisputed leader of the senior class. And he has plans for Simon.

Rob enlists the help of his crew -- wealthy, intellectual Young, ladies' man Bob, and sweet, athletic Coop -- in a mission: Turn sniveling Simon from total freak to would-be prom king.

But as Simon rises to the top of the social ranks, he shows a new confidence and a devious side that power-hungry Rob did not anticipate. And when Simon uncovers a dangerous secret, events darken. The result is disquieting, bone-chilling...and brutal.

Shattering Glass was an interesting reading experience. Nearly all of the characters were hard to like for one reason or another - including the horrendous "Bro"-type speak - but the story was compelling enough to push me through. 

I think a lot of that also had to do with the unique way the book was written. Each chapter started out with a testimonial from a character in the book from a time years ahead from when the main story takes place. Each statement alludes to something horrible happening with the POV main character, Young, in the center of it. The thing is, it paints him as the bad guy. Meanwhile, in the book's "present time", Young is regarded as a nice, smart kid. I probably made that sound more complicated than it was. But I have to credit that storytelling style for keeping me into the book, because I needed to see what happened and what went wrong. 

I'm just thankful it was all wrapped up at the end and didn't leave me guessing. That would have been an infuriating end to the book. 

Other than that, the plot just seemed so cruel and really played into teen stereotypes - which it what it was trying to do. I don't think anyone came out a winner at the end of the book. I suppose it offers a look into what happens when average teen shenanigans go too far to the extreme. 

2/5 stars



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September 13, 2022

Shine by Lauren Myracle

Synopsis

When her best guy friend falls victim to what seems like a vicious hate crime, 16-year-old Cat sets out to discover who in her small town did it. Richly atmospheric, this daring mystery mines the secrets of a tightly knit Southern community and examines the strength of will it takes to go against everyone you know in the name of justice.

Against a backdrop of poverty, clannishness, drugs, and intolerance, Myracle has crafted a harrowing coming-of-age tale couched in a deeply intelligent mystery. Smart, fearless, and compassionate, this is an unforgettable work from a beloved author.


Even after reading the synopsis for this book, I wasn't quite prepared for how dark and sad it got at times. It deals with some really harsh topics such as racism, addiction, sexual assault, LGBTQ hate crimes, and questions about sexuality, and more. All of that was packed into a relatively short novel. The fact that it didn't feel disjointed and forced speaks a lot to how well the book is written. 

There were times it made me feel uncomfortable. There were times it made me sad. There were times it got me to smile. Its definitely a story of the power of love and a coming-of-age story about the importance of family. It's a real look into how trauma can touch so many lives in so many different ways.

At first it kinda seemed like it was trying to be one of those young adult books where some kid or young teenager solves all the problems of a small town. But it ended up being so much deeper than that, and I really appreciated it in the end. 

It's not an easy read due to the topics, but it is written well and goes pretty fast. 

4/5 stars


Memorable Quote: "That was the problem with lying to yourself. Sometimes you got too good at it."



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September 10, 2022

We Are Inevitable by Gayle Forman

Synopsis

'I got this whole-body feeling... it was like a message from future me to present me, telling me that in some way we weren’t just bound to happen, that we had, in some sense, already happened. It felt... inevitable.'

So far, the inevitable hasn’t worked out so well for Aaron Stein.

While his friends have gone to college and moved on with their lives, Aaron’s been left behind in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, running a failing bookshop with his dad, Ira. What he needs is a lucky break, the good kind of inevitable.

And then he meets Hannah. Incredible Hannah – magical, musical, brave and clever. Could she be the answer? And could they – their relationship, their meeting – possibly be the inevitable Aaron’s been waiting for?


When I ordered this book, I was really excited to read it. Then, as many books do, it got lost in my TBR pile and sat around for a little over a year before I finally picked it up to dive in. It was one of those situations where I felt silly for putting it off so long once I finally started because it was a quick read and it gripped me from the beginning. But, maybe right now was just the time that I was meant to read it. 

The book follows the main character, Aaron, through many mental and emotional turmoils. It deals with topics of loss, love, addiction, disability, and even more. But, it tackles them gracefully and really comes off as being a light read despite the important and heavy topics. 

The thing I had to keep reminding myself is that Aaron is only 18 years old, and he's already been through a lot in his life. And I had to keep reminding myself of this because basically in every chapter, I wanted to dive through the pages into this fictional world and smack him on the head with a book. He was beyond frustrating. And then it sort of breaks the fourth wall when Hannah calls him an unreliable narrator - spot on. 

But even with the frustrations, We Are Inevitable is really a love note about books. Maybe not even just books - but about words. How words can reach deep inside of you and touch you in prolific ways. They may be written down in a novel or they may be playing through a speaker as a vinyl record spins. Words are important. Words can change your life. Words will always be with you when you feel the most alone. 

Book lovers could definitely find bits of themselves in these pages. Be warned - you'll also want to smack Aaron from time to time. 

I was really hoping there would be a more profound character arc for him, but I think everyone around Aaron grew more than he did. That left me a bit bummed out when I turned the final page. I was happy for the rest of them though. Ira, Chad, Hannah, the Lumberjacks . . . they all had their quirks. But they were all really likable. 

Whereas Aaron just . . . wasn't. But I'm not sure he was supposed to be. 

3/5 Stars. The book really was a nice journey, but the endless frustration knocked my rating down 2 stars. 

Memorable Quote: "Twenty-six letters and some punctuation marks and you have infinite words in infinite worlds.”



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November 13, 2018

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

Synopsis:
Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal. 

 I’m not sure how this book turned out to be a feel good story. Nothing during the reading of it suggested it would be that way except, maybe, for the fact that it’s a Young Adult novel. I find, more often than not, Young Adult goes the feel-good route instead of soul-crushing route.

Now, there was one twist in this book that shook me to my core and nearly made me cry. I had to put it down and process it for a minute before I could continue.

The two main characters, Alex and Miles, are very strong and well developed. Made You Up gives you an interesting take on mental health and high school. There is a really weird side plot with the principal which ends up being an important plot point in the end, but I just thought it was really strange an unnecessary.

Overall, this book was really easy to get through. It doesn’t take long to read, and the characters are likeable. If you’re looking for a lighter read (with difficult topics) I would recommend it. Be warned, it will make you question everything that you know while reading it.

4/5 Stars


March 30, 2017

The You I’ve Never Known by Ellen Hopkins

Synopsis:

How do you live your life if your past is based on a lie? A new novel in both verse and prose from #1 New York Times bestselling author, Ellen Hopkins.

For as long as she can remember, it’s been just Ariel and Dad. Ariel’s mom disappeared when she was a baby. Dad says home is wherever the two of them are, but Ariel is now seventeen and after years of new apartments, new schools, and new faces, all she wants is to put down some roots. Complicating things are Monica and Gabe, both of whom have stirred a different kind of desire.

Maya’s a teenager who’s run from an abusive mother right into the arms of an older man she thinks she can trust. But now she’s isolated with a baby on the way, and life’s getting more complicated than Maya ever could have imagined.

Ariel and Maya’s lives collide unexpectedly when Ariel’s mother shows up out of the blue with wild accusations: Ariel wasn’t abandoned. Her father kidnapped her fourteen years ago.

What is Ariel supposed to believe? Is it possible Dad’s woven her entire history into a tapestry of lies? How can she choose between the mother she’s been taught to mistrust and the father who has taken care of her all these years?

In bestselling author Ellen Hopkins’s deft hands, Ariel’s emotionally charged journey to find out the truth of who she really is balances beautifully with Maya’s story of loss and redemption. This is a memorable portrait of two young women trying to make sense of their lives and coming face to face with themselves—for both the last and the very first time.

It has been a long time since I have finished a novel. I have started quite a few, but I have been in such a slump that I haven’t been able to finish one since last year. I figured if anyone could get me out of it, it would be Ellen Hopkins. Sure enough, here we are.

The story pulled me in right away with its strong characters. Ariel has an interesting inner-monologue as she tries to figure out life. With the strange circumstances she has had to live through, only when she is 17 can she really take time to try to figure out who she is. Or, who she thinks she is.  That is, until someone totally unexpected comes into her life and changes everything around.

The plot is deep as it takes the time to examine, abuse, alcoholism, the military, and LGBT themes. It really was a tough book to read at times, but you end up caring so much about the characters that you have to see what happens. That is one thing that Ellen Hopkins is masterful at. You always end up feeling strongly for her characters one way or the other. This book was no different.

You begin to root for certain relationships, and your opinions about some characters change along the way. There are a lot of twists and turns to this one.

If you are into Ellen Hopkins’s work, or if you are looking for good, new fiction, I highly recommend this one.

5/5 stars



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September 11, 2016

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Synopsis:
Sixteen-year-old Min Green writes a letter to Ed Slaterton in which she breaks up with him, documenting their relationship and how items in the accompanying box, from bottle caps to a cookbook, foretell the end.
I have a love hate relationship with this book. I heard it talked about all over the internet, so when it went on sale, I bought it. I didn’t know when I started it, and I still don’t know now, why this book got so much hype. Both Min and Ed are painfully generic characters that feed into their stereotypes.

I never really ended up caring about either of them, and that made it difficult to finish this book. It got to the point where I was half way through it and I figured that I might as well just finish it incase it gets better at the end.

To me, it never did. I guess there must have been something about it that kept me reading, but I wouldn’t openly recommend the book to anyone.

2.5/5 Stars

Memorable Quotes: “I’m telling you why we broke up, Ed. I’m writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened. And the truth is that I goddamn loved you so much.”

“You could never truly see the movies in my head and that, Ed, is why we broke up.”

“It was everything, those nights on the phone, everything we said until late became later and then later and very late and finally to go to bed with my ear warm and worn red from holding the phone close close close so as not to miss a word of what it was, because who cared how tired I was in the humdrum slave drive of our days without each other. I’d ruin any day, all my days, for those long nights with you, and I did. But that’s why right there it was doomed. We couldn’t only have the magic nights buzzing through the wires. We had to have the days, too, the bright impatient days spoiling everything with their unavoidable schedules, their mandatory times that don’t overlap, their loyal friends who don’t get along, the unforgiven travesties torn from the wall no matter what promises are uttered past midnight.”

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