{Book Review} Some Boys

{Book Review} Some BoysSome Boys by Patty Blount
Published by Sourcebooks on August 5th 2014
Genres: Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 339
Source: Purchased
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five-stars

Some girls say no. Some boys don't listen. When Grace meets Ian, she's afraid. Afraid he'll reject her like the rest of the school, like her own family. After she accuses Zac, the town golden boy, of rape, everyone turns against her. Ian wouldn't be the first to call her a slut and a liar. Except Ian doesn't reject her. He's the one person who looks past the taunts and the names and the tough-girl act to see the real Grace. He's the one who gives her the courage to fight back. He's also Zac's best friend.

What do you do if you’re raped by the most popular boy in school and no one believes you? If you’re Grace, you stand up to everyone no matter what until someone believes you. She shows courage and determination even when everyone turns against her, including her best friends. I really admired this about Grace, because I know when I was in high school I never would have been that brave.

“It would be so easy for you to – I don’t know – hide. Run away. Pretend.” He shakes his head. “But you get in people’s faces. You don’t back off. Even when you’re scared. And you’re scared a lot lately, aren’t you.”

The book, told in alternating chapters between Grace and Ian, the best friend of Zac, the boy who raped her. Ian has always liked Grace, but since Zac is the alpha male of the group and “scored” with her, which apparently means she is now off limits. After Ian and Grace are both assigned week long detention during spring break, Ian starts to realize that things aren’t always as they appear.  The book raises important stereotypes that pervade the issues of sexual assault, such as the way a girl dresses or that fact that she was drinking.

“I just want people to believe it happened.” I shiver, suddenly cold. “Nobody does, you know. The cops wanted to know if I was Zac’s girlfriend, if I was drinking, doing drugs, if I ever worked as a stripper, if I ever kissed Zac before that night. What the hell does any of that have to do with what happened? Do the laws against sexual assault not apply to strippers? To girlfriends? I don’t get that.”

Along the same lines as Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and Just Listen by Sarah Dessen, Some Boys is an important and well written book about sexual assault which I highly recommend. It would make an excellent book club/discussion book.

five-stars

{Book Review} All the Bright Places

{Book Review} All the Bright PlacesAll the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Published by Random House Children's Books on January 6th 2015
Genres: Death & Dying, Depression & Mental Illness, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Source: Purchased
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five-stars

The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park in this exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.Soon to be a major motion picture starring Elle Fanning! Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death. When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink. This is an intense, gripping novel perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham from a talented new voice in YA, Jennifer Niven.

My thoughts: Mental illness has such a terrible stigma in our society; for some reason we look at a disease of the body (i.e. cancer) very differently than a disease of the brain. The more I learn and read about it the more frustrated I become because it is so hard for people to get the help they so desperately need. Whether they are too afraid to reach out or their illness is ignored, this happens far too often in our society. Until mental illness touches your life it is extremely difficult to not only understand its effects on the person suffering, but also its effect on all the people close to them. All the Bright Places opens our eyes and hearts to two broken young adults, Finch and Violet. Finch, determined to become Violet’s savior, through a class assignment where they have to visit the “wondrous sights” of Indiana.

“Everyone around you is going to give you a gentle push now and then, but never hard enough because they don’t want to upset Poor Violet. You need shoving, not pushing. You need to jump back on that camel. Otherwise you’re going to stay up on the ledge you’ve made for yourself.”

As Finch fights to bring Violet out of her dark depression we discover that Finch’s mental illness goes much deeper, but their friendship and relationship grows even as Violet’s parents forbid her from seeing him.

“You are all the colors in one, at full brightness.”

What happens next can only be described as heart wrenching. I kept turning the pages hoping beyond hope that what I thought was going to happen didn’t.

I absolutely love books that have scavenger hunts or road trips, i.e. Paper Towns, Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, Let’s Go Places, The Disenchantments and this is one going to the top of that list. All the Bright Places is a beautiful story, albeit extremely sad, and I absolutely adore Jennifer Niven’s writing.  I found that she captured the lives of two young adults very accurately. It took me awhile to figure out what Finch was suffering from, but I think that only highlights the difficulties of diagnosing mental illness.

“That’s just his thing. It’s what he does.”

All the Bright Places is so important because it underscores the issues surrounding mental illness especially in young adults and hopefully brings an awareness to the dire consequences. I knew after about two chapters that this was going to be a tear jerker and I finished the book with tears streaming down my face.

five-stars

{Book Review} Anatomy of a Misfit

{Book Review} Anatomy of a MisfitAnatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes
Published by HarperCollins on September 2nd 2014
Genres: Death & Dying, Love & Romance, Physical & Emotional Abuse, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Source: Purchased
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five-stars

In this Mean Girls meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower tale, narrator Anika Dragomir is the third most popular girl at Pound High School. But inside, she knows she's a freak; she can't stop thinking about former loner Logan McDonough, who showed up on the first day of tenth grade hotter, bolder, and more mysterious than ever. Logan is fascinating, troubled and off-limits. The Pound High queen bee will make Anika's life hell if she's seen with him. So Anika must choose—ignore her feelings and keep her social status? Or follow her heart and risk becoming a pariah. Which will she pick? And what will she think of her choice when an unimaginable tragedy strikes, changing her forever? An absolutely original new voice in YA in a story that will start important conversations—and tear at your heart.

My Thoughts:

What do you do if your best friend is the most popular girl in school, but only got that way because she is controlling and the biggest bully? Knowing that if you ever cross her or provide a differing opinion you will be outcast and become bullied and tormented by Becky.

“If you’re wondering what I was doing standing right there next to Becky, aka the dark force, it’s because I am number three in the pecking order around here. I have no hope for rising above my station and I will explain why later. But number three is where I will always be and, as I am constantly reminded, I am lucky to be here.”

Anika knows that Becky’s bullying is wrong and slowly develops the courage to face that truth. At first she finds ways to surreptitiously defeat Becky’s bullying attempts on her fellow students but soon she must face her head on. When two boys from opposite ends of the popularity scale like her, she faces a no win scenario. Becky would never allow her to see Logan who is beneath their social status and she would never allow her to see Jared, who she likes herself.

“It’s not lost on me that the only two guys in the universe who seem to somehow; maybe, like me are both completely off-limits for entirely different reasons. What a bizarre world, isn’t it? Logan is off-limits because he’s a social pariah that could completely ruin me if anyone knew about our moped rides and late-night sneak-outs. Jared Kline is the biggest stone-cold fox in the city, possibly even the state, and if Becky knew the things he was saying in the hoity-toity library, she would hand me to the wolves covered in butter.”

Anika’s snarky attitude and remarks made me laugh out loud and I wish I had her courage when I was in high school. I really identified with her because of my experiences in high school. This was an amazing book about learning how to stand up for yourself and others around you. Anika developed the courage to believe in herself and that it’s not important what others think. This book made me both laugh and cry. No spoilers, but I did not see the ending coming and was beyond sad.

five-stars

{Book Review} Delirium

{Book Review} DeliriumDelirium by Lauren Oliver
Published by Harper Collins on August 2nd 2011
Genres: Dystopian, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 480
Source: Purchased
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five-stars

Lauren Oliver's powerful New York Times bestselling novel Delirium—the first in a dystopian trilogy—presents a world as terrifying as George Orwell's 1984 and a romance as true as Romeo & Juliet.In an alternate United States, love has been declared a dangerous disease, and the government forces everyone who reaches eighteen to have a procedure called the Cure. Living with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in Portland, Maine, Lena Haloway is very much looking forward to being cured and living a safe, predictable life. She watched love destroy her mother and isn't about to make the same mistakes.But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena meets enigmatic Alex, a boy from the Wilds who lives under the government's radar. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?Delirium received starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal, and was named a Best Book of the Year by USA Today, Kirkus, Amazon.com, YALSA, and the Chicago Public Library and was selected as one of NPR's Top 100 Best Ever Teen Novels. Supports the Common Core State Standards

My Thoughts: Wow, wow, wow! I absolutely loved Lauren Oliver’s writing in Before I Fall and Delirium just seals the deal that she has a true gift for writing. I have so many sticky notes sticking out of Delirium of passages that truly touched my heart and spoke to me.

“Maybe the house hears me, because, miraculously, I do make it to the front door. I pause for a second longer, listening for the sounds of footsteps upstairs, whispered voices, anything – but other than my heart, which is still going strong and loud, it’s silent. Even the house seems to hesitate and take a breath, because the front door swings open with barely a whisper, and in the last second before I slip out into the night the rooms behind me are as dark and still as a grave.” p.118

Lena is getting closer to the date when she is cured and she can hardly wait. She plans to spend the last summer before she is cured with her best friend Hana but when Hana starts doing irresponsible things like listening to unapproved music and going to parties with boys, Lena questions her friendship and what she really know about her.

“…and meanwhile, behind my back, she’s been turning into someone I don’t know – someone with secrets and weird habits and opinions about things we’re not supposed to even think about.” p. 106

And then Lena meets Alex…and her whole world and what she thought she knew is upended. And as she falls under the deliria of love, she learns the truth about her past and the truth about the society.

“Love: a single word, a wispy thing, a word no bigger or longer than an edge. That’s what it is: an edge; a razor. It draws up through the center of your life, cutting everything in tow. Before and after. The rest of the world falls away on either side.

Before and after – and during, a moment no bigger or longer than an edge.” p. 301

I loved everything about this book! I loved how Lena grew and became the “legend” and how her relationships with Hana and Alex ebbed and flowed and of course I loved the setting, Portland and envisioning all the landmarks in the future.  With tears in my eyes as I read the last page, I closed the book anticipating Pandemonium even more!
five-stars

{Book Review} Divergent

{Book Review} DivergentDivergent by Veronica Roth
Published by HarperCollins on February 28th 2012
Genres: Action & Adventure, Dystopian, Love & Romance, Science Fiction, Social Issues, Values & Virtues, Young Adult
Pages: 576
Source: Purchased
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five-stars

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself. During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her. Veronica Roth is the New York Times bestselling author of Divergent, the first in a trilogy of dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

My Thoughts: I absolutely loved Divergent! Veronica Roth built a world where each faction had their place in a society to make it a better place, but is it really better? Beatrice’s “Tris” decision to leave her own faction was heart wrenching. Roth expertly brought those feelings to the forefront and I can’t imagine myself having the courage to make the choice that Tris chose.  I admired her courage to choose her own path rather than the path that was “expected” of her by her parents.

“But I have to see my parents one more time. I look over my shoulder at the last second before I pass them, and immediately wish I hadn’t. My father’s eyes burn into mine with a look of accusation. At first, when I feel the heat behind my eyes, I think he’s found a way to set me on fire, to punish me for what I’ve done, but no – I’m about to cry.” p. 48

As Tris goes through the initiation process to become a Dauntless faction member she discovers her true self, something she had not been able to recognize or acknowledge as a member of Abnegation. The initiation process is extremely difficult and their trainer, Four, infuriates Tris at times but also intrigues her and what first starts out as frustration slowly develops into something more….

“He presses his palms to my face, his index fingers sliding behind my ears, and pulls my mouth to his.” p.373

Tris learns that there is something different about her and that difference could put her in real danger if discovered.  There is a deeper mystery going on within the factions. As she comes to the realization of what is happening, will she have the courage to fight what is happening?

Adventure, love, mystery…an amazing story and I can’t wait for Insurgent!

five-stars

{Book Review} The Truth About Forever

{Book Review} The Truth About ForeverThe Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen
Published by Penguin on 2006
Genres: Adolescence, Death & Dying, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 374
Source: Purchased
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five-stars

Macy's summer stretches before her, carefully planned and outlined. She will spend her days sitting at the library information desk. She will spend her evenings studying for the SATs. Spare time will be used to help her obsessive mother prepare for the big opening of the townhouse section of her luxury development. But Macy's plans don't anticipate a surprising and chaotic job with Wish Catering, a motley crew of new friends, or ... Wes. Tattooed, artistic, anything-but-expected Wes. He doesn't fit Macy's life at all--so why does she feel so comfortable with him? So ... happy? What is it about him that makes her let down her guard and finally talk about how much she misses her father, who died before he eyes the year before? Sarah Dessen delivers a page-turning novel that carries readers on a roller coaster of denial, grief, comfort, and love as we watch a broken but resilient girl pick up the pieces of her life and fit them back together.

My thoughts: Sarah Dessen knows how to reel you in emotionally and connect you with each of her characters. She has one of the most lyrical and poetic writing that I have read and continue to be astounded and wrapped up in her writing. She knows how to keep the reader turning the pages and I cannot read a Sarah Dessen book without a fresh pack of sticky notes on hand.

Macy, her sister and mom are still dealing with the sudden death of her dad; her mom buries her grief deep inside by working 24/7 and getting rid of everything connected with her dad, her sister has a quick romance and is suddenly married, while Macy hides from her grief behind a safe, unemotional boyfriend. The one thing that Macy hangs onto are the quirky purchases her father made from infomercials and which continue to arrive even after his death and what is this mysterious gift her father said he had for her at Christmas?

“Grief can be a burden, but also an anchor. You get used to the weight, to how it holds you to a place.” p. 180

When Macy’s boyfriend goes away to spend the summer at brain camp, leaving her the responsibility of his job at the library which she hates, fate intervenes and she begins to work for the completely disorganized and absolutely fun and spontaneous Wish Catering company. Delia is the ever disorganized but “everything works out” owner, Kristy is fun loving and says what she feels, while her sister Monica barely says a word, and then there is Wes.  Ahhh Wes, the gorgeous, quiet, artistic and mysterious Wes who manages to help Macy discover who she really is and that she doesn’t need to be safe and that she can live again. As Macy and Wes learn about each other through their game of Truth, Macy must decide between her safe boyfriend or take a chance on Wes.

“There is never,” Kristy said adamantly, “a time or place for true love. It happens accidentally, in a heartbeat, in a single flashing, throbbing moment.” p. 356

The story ends in a culmination of chaotic events that forces everyone in Macy’s family to confront their grief and finally come together.

“You think you’re so strong because you never talk about Dad. Anyone can hide. Facing up to things, working through them, that’s what makes you strong.” p. 327

I won’t spoil what the mysterious gift was and while I was reading I was hoping and praying that Sarah Dessen’s plan was what I was thinking and she did not let me down; she magically brought fate and destiny together.

“That was the thing. You just never knew. Forever was so many different things. It was always changing, it was what everything was really all about.” p. 374

five-stars