Jenny's Library

Reading Round-up 2013: week 42

Posted on: January 8, 2014

cover image for She Loves You, She Loves You NotShe Loves You, She Loves You Not by Julie Anne Peters

Alyssa hadn’t planned on coming out to her father and stepmother yet, that happened quite by accident.  Now she’s been shipped off to live with the biological mother she barely knows, in a small town far from her friends and the girl she loves.

Parts of this book were a little odd – such as Alyssa believing that her mother is a prostitute when she’s not – and this isn’t Peters’ best novel.  But the general premise is interesting and it’s a good perspective to make sure is included in library collections.

cover image for Here I AmHere I Am by Patti Kim

After a long plane ride, a young boy arrives in a new city, in a new country, full of unfamiliar words and sounds and places.  In his pocket, he’s brought a small piece of home.  When he accidentally drops it, and another child picks it up, will he lose his last treasure from home? Or make a new friend?

I thought this story was rather sweet, the illustrations were well done, and the decision to make it wordless fit the plot and themes perfectly.  I’m not sure how easily children would be able to parse the logic of the story; it’s definitely a picture book that is best for older children, younger children may require guidance or the opportunity to re-read the story several times.

cover image from Far From XanaduFar From Xanadu by Julie Anne Peters

Mike was born and raised in Coalton, Kansas.  She figures she’ll live the rest of her life there as well, and that’s just fine by her.  Until the day Xanadu walks into Mike’s life, and she begins to wonder if maybe there’s more out there for her to find.

This is by far one of my favorite novels by Peters.  There’s just something about the characters that felt very real and unforced.  There’s plenty of messed up people in this book, but also quite a few that are doing the best they can with what they’ve been given, and, of course, kids just trying to figure things out.

cover imafe for It's Our Prom (So Deal With It)It’s Our Prom (So Deal With It) by Julie Anne Peters

Prom is so very NOT Azure’s kind of thing.  It’s expensive, elitist, and not at all inclusive.  So when the principal asks her to be on the Prom committee she jumps at the chance to turn it into the kind of party she thinks it ought to be – and she convinces her two best friends, Luke and Radhika, to help her do so.  But when the school board hears just what Azure has in mind, they might change their minds about wanting her to be a part of planning this year’s prom.

It’s Our Prom (So Deal With It) is told alternating points of view, Azure and Luke’s, but it really felt like there should have been a third.  Not having Radhika’s point of view made the trio feel unbalanced, and it also meant the book spent a lot of time wondering why she was upset, who she liked, etc.  When, instead, it would have been much more interesting if it had focused more on how people would react to her confessions, and not just vice versa.  It wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t spectacular, and could have been much better.

cover image for Moxie and the Art of Rule BreakingMoxie and the Art of Rule Breaking by Erin Dionne

Moxie has always been good at following the rules: Don’t answer the door or have friends over when home alone. No using her T pass unless she has a friend or family member with her.  Be home by nine. Until the day Moxie slips up and opens the door to a dangerous looking stranger.  Now she has fourteen days to find the missing loot from a decades old museum heist – or the crooks who think her grandfather stole it will find a way to make her whole family pay.

The premise and plot are more than a little farfetched, but Dionne’s characters have depth and their relationships are nuanced.  I especially appreciated the allusions to classic middle grade mysteries like From the Mixed of Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and The Westing Game; they’re definitely part of what makes this book memorable as well as fun.

cover image for LunaLuna by Julie Anne Peters

Regan’s family has their share of problems…and secrets.  Whose doesn’t?  But it’s Luna, Regan’s sister, that has the biggest secret of all.  To everyone but Regan, Luna is Liam, her older brother, their parent’s son, a normal boy.  But at night, Luna becomes the person she knows she was meant to be. And Regan is the only one who knows.  How long can they keep this secret?  And what will happen to their family when it comes out?

This book was so very frustrating, because while I’m glad for any and every book that depicts transgender teens respectfully, and I understand Peters’ reasoning for not wanting to speak for Luna, I kept wanting to hear the story from her point of view.   The main theme of the story was to show people what it’s like to be Luna, but having a first person point of view that wasn’t hers meant that we always saw her through the eyes of others instead.

cover image for By the Time You Read This I'll Be DeadBy The Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters

Daelyn Rice needs to escape her life – and she knows the only way out is death.  She’s tried before but failed, and thus why she’s home schooled, why her parents hover, and why she knows this time has to be her last.

I hate being critical about books that tackle serious subjects, but the truth is this just wasn’t very well written.  Like much of Peters work, it wasn’t awful, and there were some poignant moments, but neither did it manage to be anything to get excited about.

cover image for Define "Normal"Define “Normal” by Julie Anne Peters

Antonia Dillon already has too much to do.  With her mother unable to function most days, it’s up to Antonia to make sure her brothers get fed, laundry gets done, and everyone stays alive – and that’s on top of her own school and homework.  So when Dr. DiLeo asks her to volunteer for peer counseling, the last thing she wants to do is say yes – despite how good it will look on her college applications.   And if she’d known she’d be assigned to counsel Jasmine Luther, she most definitely never would have agreed to do it.

This book may have been published in 2000, but it felt like it should be from the early 1990s.  It’s not quite an after school special – but it’s very, very close.  The conceit of asking readers to question who is more “normal” – Antonia, who teachers love but whose home life is falling apart, or Jazz, who teachers hate but who is cared for and confident of herself – is a laudable one.  Unfortunately, the Peters’ image of what is considered punk or outside the mainstream of teen culture seems to owe more to My So Called Life than anything from the same year.

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