Posts Tagged YA fiction

BOOK OF THE MONTH: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Not sure why I chose to read this except that I’d seen it on many bestseller lists. In general, I don’t choose YA fiction although I thoroughly enjoyed The Hunger Games series. I read those due to the buzz.

The Fault in Our Stars is SO well-written: it’s lyrical, quotable, smart, funny and moving. Everything you look for in a novel about a young girl with terminal cancer. 16-year-old Hazel meets the charming Augustus in a cancer support group. The two have an honest, sweet first love that maybe only dying cancer patients can have.

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Swimming to Chicago: book review

Swimming to Chicago , by David-Matthew Barnes. Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (October, 2011). YA fiction. Hardcover, 192 pgs.

I don’t read that much YA fiction. I’ve read a few novels by Joyce Carol Oates and Neil Gaiman. So I don’t have a frame of reference for Swimming to Chicago. Not sure if that’s positive or negative. I enjoyed the previous novel from author David-Matthew Barnes. It’s summer and teenager Alex Bainbridge falls hard for new-to-town Tommy. Alex’s mother recently committed suicide and Alex doesn’t quite know how to handle his emotions. Before moving to the South, he lived in Chicago and felt more comfortable in his Armenian-American skin there. Like many teenagers, Alex just wants to belong and to be truly liked.

Tommy’s sweet, quiet and non-judgmental. Alex also juggles his friendship with Jillian. Once school starts in the fall, Jillian embarks on an affair with her teacher who happens to be Tommy’s stepfather. The ensuing drama affects all three teenagers. They stick together. While a bit over the top at times, Swimming to Chicago provides twists, shock and escape. I didn’t like the ending. I’m not fond of novels or films where teenagers think they’re adults too soon. They’re just too young. Am I being unrealistic? Maybe. I read the news. I know about some of the things going on out there but I still feel that you’re not ready to live on your own at 17 or 18.

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Calli: book review

Calli , by Jessica Lee Anderson. Publisher: Milkweed Editions (September 2011). Young Adult Fiction. 198 pp.

Calli has two moms, her biological mom Brandi and Liz. Her moms would like additional children. Liz had been a foster child and the couple decides to take in a foster child, Calli’s age, named Cherish. Right away Calli walks into school to find Cherish kissing Calli’s boyfriend Dub in front of his locker. The next day Calli finds awful graffiti on her own locker -“bulldyke.” Sometimes even her closest friend’s mom seems wary that Calli has two moms. She asks a lot of questions. Cherish said that she’s probably a “lez” because her mothers are gay. Calli plans revenge on Cherish but soon regrets it when she realizes how many lives will be affected.

Calli is a wonderful role model for teens. She’s an intelligent girl who excels in class. She has her first boyfriend and they just kiss. She goes to the mall and movies with friends. Her mom Brandi suffers from Lupus and needs to rest frequently. Liz keeps Calli secretly stocked up on candy bars. Calli’s generally trusting, caring and reliable. Most of her issues stem from not understanding why people wouldn’t like her and her moms who are all sweet people in her eyes. In general she can deal with most of the harmless students at her high school. It’s the mysterious Cherish who stirs up too many hurtful feelings for Calli’s idyllic family.

Author Jessica Lee Anderson writes Calli with an authentic voice. She’s laid out the novel in diary format which is very teen-esque and YA friendly. There’s warmth and honesty in this story about a 14-year-old girl dealing with teasing and insecurity [both hers and others]. Calli thoughtfully and entertainingly zips by from page to page. Calli‘s a solid family story for the next generation of blended and nontraditional loving families.

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