Posts Tagged ‘abuse’
“Nikki and Deja are best friends.” Neighbors and classmates, they spend as much time as they can together. But when a new girl, Antonia, arrives and starts a club – one that only some people can join – Nikki and Deja’s friendship begins to look like it might not last, after all.
I feel guilty calling this merely a good chapter book, rather than using glowing superlatives to describe it. The truth is that most chapter books are so awful that this novel is absolutely wonderful and amazingly written by comparison. The characters have personality, with out feeling cartoonish, and their dilemmas are both realistic and age appropriate. English does a wonderful job of including the right kind of details, ones that give the story life without being overwhelming to new readers. The prose fails to be as memorable as the story, and I’d like better for new readers, but this is a chapter book after all – vocabulary limits make that incredibly difficult. It’s hardly a masterpiece, but it’s solid and I highly recommend it.
I am, however, slightly disappointed in the quality of the book design. With apologies to Freeman (whose interior illustrations are perfect) the cover just doesn’t work for me and I can’t see that it would be terribly appealing to kids either. All of which I wanted to point out not because I dislike it that much but because covers sell books. So I see passable but not brilliant covers as another weak link in the chain when it comes to promoting “diverse” authors and books, and I wanted to note that here for future conversations.
Moving back home means that Eleanor gets to see her siblings, that she can be there to take care of them. It also means watching what she does and says around her stepfather, and starting a new high school. Park doesn’t mean to take pity on the new – and very weird – girl on the bus, the last thing he needs is to commit social suicide. Yet he does so anyway. But he isn’t going to talk to her. Until he notices her glancing over at his comics as he reads them on the bus, and Park starts to make sure that she’s done with the page before he turns it. Soon, Park is making her mixed tapes and Eleanor is thinking that maybe some people can be trusted after all.
I devoured this book in one night, it was that good. Rowell has crafted a lovely story, full of stolen moments and the kinds of secrets that need to be told. It’s refreshing to see miscommunication in a romantic relationship that actually makes sense, and to see it being worked out rather than resolved by the plot. It should be noted that there have been complaints about Park, whose mother is from Vietnam, and how he and his family are described and portrayed. Rowell does an excellent job handling the Eleanor’s home life, however, and how she is affected by both poverty and abuse.
Candence spends every summer with her family on a private island off the coast of Masachusetts. And every summer she and her cousins run wild, unhampered by schoolwork or schedules or even neighbors. Every summer except the last one, which Cady spent in Europe with her father, hating ever minute of it, desperate for emails and texts from her cousins, which never came. When Cady arrives at the island this summer, she and her cousins pick up where they left off, as if nothing had ever happened. Only Cady knows that something did happen, something their last summer together that caused the headaches she’s had ever since. The problem is that Cady has no idea what it was; she’s been having trouble remembering things since that night as well.
I absolutely hated reading this book.
It’s not a terrible book, but my frustrations with it only increased with each page, making it not at all enjoyable to read. Much of the suspense rests on the reveal of the twist at the end, which I’d figured out early on. I think the book is supposed to work even if you know truth (much like Code Name Verity actually does) – that knowing the truth changes the experience rather than detracting from it . But for me, it didn’t succeed in doing this. Add to that the fact that it’s a book about privilege* which makes a really big mistake in terms of privilege, and I’m afraid to admit that the warmest response I can muster to this book is “meh.”
Which makes me sad because I usually love Lockhart’s books.
[The basic plot for this book is a spoiler for the entire first novel, so I’m putting it behind the cut.]
Amal Mohamed Nasrullah Abdel-Hakim is sixteen and about to start her third term as an eleventh grader at the exclusive and expensive McClean’s Prepatory Academy when she realizes that she’s ready to wear the hijab full time. But is she ready for the assumptions people will make about her – about her parents and her abilities and her dreams – if she starts wearing the hijab to school? To the mall? To job interviews? And yet what will it say about her, and her faith, and her country if she lets fear and prejudice keep her from making her own choices.
Despite the rather slow moving plot and lack of action, I found myself liking this book quite a bit. It’s not just that it offers a very compassionate and balanced view, and presents readers with a perspective that is sadly in short supply in YA. Abdel-Fattah writes in a very compelling and engaging voice and I look forward to reading more books by her.
Boys who love boys. Girls who love girls. New loves and old loves. Teenagers forced to hide their true selves. How Beautiful the Ordinary collects twelve stories from twelve authors who know what it’s like for their normal selves to treated as different, as outside the norm.
I expect a mixture of quality and taste when it comes to the content of anthologies, but that doesn’t excuse the disrespect for others that I found in a handful of the stories in this particular collection:
William Sleator’s Fingernail has it’s Thai protagonist and narrator telling readers that ” [English] is the most important language in the world” and pointing out that were it not for his abusive, European ex boyfriend, he never would have met his current, loving boyfriend from the West. It’s not that it’s inconceivable for a young man like this to exist, and to have these kinds of thoughts, but that it’s not really appropriate or responsible for an white American to be putting these words into the mouth of a Thai character he created.
Jennifer Finney Boylan’s The Missing Person is in many ways a beautiful and heartbreaking tale of a girl who everyone else sees and treats as a boy. Unfortunately, it also uses the misfortune that befalls a Taiwanese exchange student as a metaphor for the main character’s own struggles, rather than as an experience belonging to the exchange student herself, and as a source of common ground.
The stories are not all disappointing, however. Jacqueline Woodson’s Trev is elegant and full of sorrow, determination, and hope. Margo Lanagan’s A Dark Red Love Knot is twisted and cruel and beautiful. Emma Donoghue’s Dear Lang, a testament to the meaning of family, left me in tears. And lastly, Gregory Maguire’s The Silk Road Runs Through Tupperneck, N.H. contemplates paths not taken and shows us the costs of hiding in closets.
Fifteen year old Lucy Oswego has always towered over her classmates. Not that she needs to in order for people to remember her, Sitka is the kind of small town where everyone knows everyone else – and their business. Which is how all the bar owners know to call her when her dad gets so drunk he can’t even stumble home on his own. So it’s no surprise that Lucy wonders what it would be like to blend in, to fit in – to be someone other than Lucy the Giant. And when a crabbing boat crew mistakes her for an adult, and invites her to sign on, Lucy finds her chance to do just that.
Have I mentioned how much I love Smith’s books? Lucy the Giant is no exception. Smith has a gift for finding the extraordinary in the everyday, and for centering the kinds of characters that tend to exist on the fringes of most mainstream narratives. Lucy the Giant is a deceptively simple story; more complicated and subtle than it appears at first, and one that packs a punch despite it’s short length.
I’ve been known to complain about the quality of books like Heather Has Two Mommies in the past. While the diversity they bring and respect they show are both much needed, their quality in terms of craft isn’t always up to par. Not so with this lovely book.
Newman’s text is full of catchy rhymes that keep the pages turning and the illustrations are expressive, clear, and skillful. While Thompson’s style doesn’t quite match my personal taste, there is no denying that her work is well done and engaging. Together they present scenes that are familiar to all families, and yet depict a type of family that is under represented in quality children’s books.
More like this, please!
For as long as she can remember, Rapunzel has lived in comfort in Mother Gothel’s villa, never knowing what lay beyond. Until the day she scales the walls and finally begins to understand what the woman she was taught to call mother is really capable of. Now her curiosity has become a question for the truth, and Rapunzel won’t stop until she, and everyone else, is safe from Mother Gothel.
I so very much wanted to love this book, and there was, indeed, much that I liked about the characters and plot. Unfortunately, the illustration style never grew on me and so ended up being distracting rather than adding to my enjoyment of the story.
Sonny Kroll dreams of being a baker, a world famous chef with her own television show. Right now though, she’s sitting in the car with her mom, all their belongings tossed hastily into the trunk and backseat, on their way to a new town, a new place to live, and a new school. Complete with a new principal that Sonny needs to keep from finding out that she can’t read.
I’ve heard good things about Bauer’s work, but this was another book that wasn’t awful, yet didn’t really impress me either. It’s the type of book I’d try including in a large library collection, but wouldn’t necessarily recommend.
Ruby’s mother has never been reliable, sometimes even disappearing for days, but the two of them have always muddled along somehow, and she always come back. Until now. Ruby figures if she can just keep it together and make it through high school without anyone finding out, then things will be alright. And for two months, she manages…well, mostly. But when her neighbor contacts child services, Ruby is suddenly sent to live with the older sister she hasn’t seen in over a decade.
The relationship between Ruby and her older sister, Cora, is definitely the best part of Lock and Key. It’s not simple, and it isn’t fixed easily or quickly or with simple heartfelt conversations. Which is no surprise, as relationships are what Dessen is best at, and this is a very classic Dessen novel. While it lacks the shop/restaurant/etc. with a quirky cast of characters, it still has lots of interesting people with serious but everyday problems. It made me both laugh and cry, as any Dessen novel should.
Following the discovery of her aptitude for, and enjoyment of, flying Theo Waitley has made preparations to attend flight school rather than continuing on to a more scholarly pursuit, as is expected of students on the Safe World of Delgado. Raised in a very different environment than most of her new classmates Theo, is behind in not just mathematics, but social skills as well. She’s also arriving mid year, making it impossible for her to try to blend in. But Theo has always stood out. The only question is, will Anlingdin Piloting Academy remember her for her skills, her lack of them, or for being a troublemaker?
I’m not sure if it’s Lee and Miller’s voice, or Theo’s analytical way of approaching life, (or me) but sometimes it feels as though events that ought to have emotional resonance lack the full punch. That said, I am enjoying these books, and this one was particularly fun because it included getting to see Theo being competent and enjoying herself.
Some days, Tara Feinstein feels like she has just too much to juggle. As if regular school work wasn’t enough, now she’s been partnered with the class clown for her robotics project. Her best friend, Ben-o, is starting to act strangely, and her other best friend, Rebecca, has been spending time with her least favorite person, Sheila Rosenberg. When she decides to go through with her bat mitzvah, Tara knows it will mean extra studying. What she doesn’t expect is her parent’s reaction, or having to argue with Sheila about whether she is Indian or Jewish – can’t she both?
This was a lovely and engaging story, full of realistic problems and middle graders acting in believable ways. Tara’s family is supportive, but also unique and imperfect, as all families are. Nothing is solved easily or neatly, and not every problem is even solved completely – some things take time. Yet the ending still presents readers with healthy options and a better understanding of others, and hopefully themselves. It should also be noted that Freedman is definitely drawing on personal experience, she herself is Jewish and her husband’s heritage is Indian, making her family much like Tara’s.
My one major complaint concerns the fact that it was made clear that neither side of Tara’s family talks about which of her elders she looks like. It had Tara herself, in fact, talking about her own looks as if she looked like no one else in her family. And it attributed this to her mixed heritage, and talked about Tara feeling like she belonged to no one because of it. While I don’t doubt that children like Tara often feel that way, and that there are families who do react this way to biracial children, in my experience the latter is extremely rare. (I could be wrong! but that has been my experience.) The book, however, framed it as typical. While this was a small part of the book, my reaction was anything but small, and not favorable or impersonal, and I fear I’m not the only reader who might react this way.
I’ve read few books that have made me as angry as Rishe-Gewirtz’s debut novel, Zebra Forest, has.
[Caution: Serious spoilers ahead!] Read the rest of this entry »