Posts Tagged ‘relationships’
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.
Autumn’s learning disability means she struggles in school; Adonis is at the top of the class. Autumn is the star of the wresting team, feared by boys as well as girls; Adonis needs a wheelchair to get around. Autumn is always surrounded by friends; Adonis is reserved and keeps to himself. So what happens when Autumn decides that Adonis is the boy for her, but Adonis refuses to say more than the rare hello?
Told in alternating points of view, Pinned explores what it means to respect and care for others, and to understand and empathize with them and their circumstances. Flake does an excellent job with the two characters different voices. Autumn’s chapters are particularly well done; Flake manages to stay true to the kind of vocabulary and syntax Autumn would use without making her seem like a stereotype or less intelligent than she is.
Slimed! consists of an exhausting number of interviews with a variety of people who worked for Nickelodeon from it’s inception through the 1990’s, from child actors to adult ones, producers, animators, writers, and everyone in between.
The decision to group the intervewees’ responses by topic, rather than by person, show, or chronologically was a good one. It allows readers to get a balanced view of the range of opinions and memories are on various topics, from the the key design and marketing decisions that made the Nickelodeon we came to know and love, to more controversial topics such as the firing of the creator of the Ren and Stimpy Show and questions about about race and representation.
Unfortunately though, we also aren’t given an introduction as to who everyone is, which made following the interview responses fairly confusing at times. I couldn’t have read this book without the help of google. There is an index at the back of the book, but (and perhaps this is just my ereader) it’s not always as easy to flip pages on an ereader as it is with hardcopies, and it’s not evident that this index exists unless you read through the table of contents.
If you grew up watching You Can’t Do That on Television and The Adventures of Pete and Pete, as I did, it’s well worth a read, although perhaps not worth paying hardcover prices to do so.
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
I’m not going to try to give a synopsis the way I usually do, because OMG this book. Also, the synopsis might make it sound like it may be worth reading, and it’s NOT. Except to mock it, which is part of how I was bribed into reading it.
There is nothing about this book that makes sense or follows any kind of logic. It makes me want to laugh and cry and scream all at the same time.
First, Celaena, the main character, is supposed to be a very skilled assassin, but we pretty much never see her being competent. She’ll win and defeat her enemies at times (a very few times), but when you read what she does to do it, you’ll wonder how in the world she managed to survive. Most importantly, she’s still a prisoner during most of the book, and spends very little time plotting her escape. And the time she does spend plotting and planning and preparing, she doesn’t spend well or intelligently.
Secondly, the castle is made of glass. (Some of it anyway.) In a kingdom that has outlawed magic, so sorcery can’t be the reason it hasn’t fallen down. And how do the doors work? And what about temperature control? The whole idea makes my head hurt.
Third, Celaena likes dresses – A LOT. Which is not something I’m against! I’m not even put out that the character’s appreciation of fashion lacks depth. I’m annoyed by how the book’s presentation of fashion is so incredibly shallow, considering how much time is spent on it. There’s no world building here, in terms of fashion or textiles, and what they indicate in terms of class, status, and the like.
Fourth, Celaena recovers way too quickly from essentially being tortured via working as a slave in the salt mines. And I don’t just mean in terms of her body recovering too fast, I mean the fact that this experience only ever seems to affect her physically, mentally, or emotionally when it’s convenient for the plot. There is no nuance to her experiences, and no understanding of how this kind of harm actually affects people, no recognition of the suffering of real people in similar situations. It’s all very cartoonish, in a way that minimizes what this kind of injustice and deprivation actually does to people.
Lastly, there is way too much slut-shaming in this book. It’s bad enough that were told rather than shown that Celaena is a skilled assassin. It’s bad enough that her love of “girly” things is presented so shallowly, rather than with depth. And it’s particularly bad that she’s given a tortured past that’s dealt with very disrespectfully. But on top of all that we get Celaena judging other women for doing the same things she does, and the narrative supporting her in this assessment.
I won’t say you shouldn’t read this book, but I do suggest that it be read in small doses, and with lots of alcohol and access to social media for mocking.
Gansey, Adam, Ronan, Noah, and Blue have managed to awaken the ley lines around Cabeswater, but their search for Glendower continues, and not without frustrations and setbacks. To further complicate matters, strangers have come to Henrietta looking for them and Ronan has been keeping secrets – and going off the rails (even more than usual).
Full of the unexpected, The Dream Thieves stays focused on the tangled friendships and class conflicts that made that The Raven Boys so great, but it also adds in even more magic and “BOOM!” What makes this book so incredibly wonderful isn’t just the fantastic, or even how the fantastic and the realism blend together so seamlessly, it’s above all the emotional and moral weight that Stiefvater gives to the power and choices presented to her characters.
When Josh arrives at his uncle’s apartment, where he’ll be spending his senior year of high school, all he wants to do is forget. Forget the year before, the plans he’d made with friends, and the mistakes he’s made. Josh may be determined to interact with other people as little as possible, but his Uncle Larry has other plans. Josh is soon roped into helping his uncle with the karate class he teaches at the local Y. If Josh isn’t careful, he might just start making friends and getting tangled up in other people’s lives again.
I didn’t know until near to the end of the book that this was a companion story to a previous novel, Jumping Off Swings. (My fault, not anyone else’s.) Living With Jackie Chan makes some sense without having read the first book, but I think it would have helped a lot to have read Jumping Off Swings first. Largely because that meant, for me, the Big Mystery for much of the book was What Did Josh Do? I suspect that me spending most of the book thinking about the really dark things Josh might have done is not quite what the author had in mind. Rather, the suspense works much better if it’s simply about if Josh is ever going to confide in others – and how much he will and what he’ll say. That keeps the focus on coping with an imperfect family and what it means to be a good friend.
Bandette is the world’s greatest thief by night, and a teen girl by day. With the help of her friends, she runs circles around both the police and her fellow thieves. But when an international organization of villains wants her dead, is it more than Bandette can handle?
This particular version includes both the first series and a collection of additional comics and stories from guests authors and artists. The main story is entertaining enough, if a bit old school (and the dialogue is a bit precious at times). The extras are more of a mixed bag, as such things often are.
tl,dr: mediocre. except when it’s instead incredibly creepy and disturbing, and not in a good way.
Kami Glass no longer has to keep what she knows about her town, Sorry-in-the-Vale, a secret. Now practically everyone in town is aware that magic is the town’s legacy, and of the power that the Lynburn family once held over everyone else. But the person Kami most wants to talk to is no longer speaking to her. Which poses a danger to more than just her heart, for Kami is going to need all the help she can get to stop Rob Lynburn from turning Sorry-in-the-Vale back into the Lynbrun’s own private kingdom.
This books starts with killer scarecrows and kisses in the dark and mistaken identities – and just keeps going from there. SO MUCH WACKY DRAMA. (in a good way.) I appreciate that Brennan didn’t undo everything that happened at the end of the last book, and that Kami and Jared (and others) instead have to live with and deal with the choices they made and the things they said. Best of all, Brennan is really great at the overwhelming angst and other emotions that is typical of young adult novels, but without resorting to the kind of situations where everything would be solved if people would just talk. And when people aren’t talking, it makes sense.
When does the next book come out again?
A seventeen year old girl wakes up without any memories of who she is. All she knows is what she’s been told. Her name (Jenna Fox), where she is (in her parent’s house), and why she doesn’t remember anything (accident, then coma). Her parents give her videos to watch, images of a past she doesn’t remember, in the hopes that they will help heal her. Instead they simply prompt more questions, questions that no one seems willing to answer.
I think what I love most about this book is that it’s the kind of story that’s best told with a teenaged protagonist. Not that I’m against young adult genre novels where the teens take on more adult roles, however unlikely that may be. But I really do love when authors come up with scenarios that not only make more sense with teens as the center of the story, but that demonstrate how certain questions are best asked in that context. It’s an easy read, but thought provoking nonetheless.
Max knew he wasn’t late to the pier, but the ship that was supposed to take him and his family to India was no where to be seen. And neither were his parents. Now Max’s grandmother is insisting he move in with her until his parents return, but all Max wants are answers and some independence. Suddenly presented with a pile of problems and mysteries, Max decides that his only option to be the person who finds the solutions.
I kept feeling like I ought to like this book, but instead it left me feeling like I was merely trudging through in order to be done with it. I suspect it will hold more appeal for it’s middle grade target audience, but not nearly as much as it could have.
I am going to skip the synopsis this time around because I CAN’T with this book. It’s a badly needed update of Judy Blume’s Forever (at least, that was my impression, and I’m clearly not the only one) and while I’d recommend it over that any day, and I’m so very glad both books exist, I was still frowning through most of this novel.
To be fair, this is in part because, in trying to show that it’s normal and ok and healthy for teens to have sex – as long as they are responsible – one ends up presenting that specific relationship as a model for how to Do Things Right, rather than exploring these characters in particular. And this book really could have done better when it came to exploring the characters.
It’s the caveat (the “as long as they’re responsible” part) that’s the kicker. Everyone should be responsible, not just teens, and putting that condition on teens’, and only teens’, right to take pleasure in their own bodies is bound to imply that only certain people have the right, and those certain people are usually going to be the ones that adhere to the status quo. This may not have been was Myracle was going for, but it is the impression I got, particularly because of the way Wrenn and Charlie’s relationship was compared to Charlie and Starrla’s. I suspect Myracle was simply trying to acknowledge that not all sex is healthy, but it came across as more: not all sex is healthy for teens.
And on that score, this book does have much to recommend it: teens having sex, girls in particular finding pleasure in sex, and all without either of the two main characters being punished for it! Still, I am rolling my eyes so hard the way the book ends and absolutely everything involving Starrla – the sexually promiscuous and not very nice girl who acts as a foil to Wren’s innocence.
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 »