Posts Tagged With: young adult

Book Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – 4 of 5

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

diary

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“I used to think the world was broken down by tribes,’ I said. ‘By Black and White. By Indian and White. But I know this isn’t true. The world is only broken into two tribes: the people who are assholes and the people who are not.”

I’ve come to realize something – young adult books need to be read on paper or e-book only. I listened to this audio book and, though the author was the narrator, which I usually love, the repetition of words and the teenage mind was a cheese grater to my soul at times. You may not have noticed it in book form, but Junior says “wow” a lot.

Even with that, I enjoyed this read. It’s perfect in many ways. We all love an awkward narrator. The voice of the story says it himself – he’s a reject in so many ways. He has his physical ailments, his brains, his emotions, and his will to survive. Every time he takes a step to the left, the rest of his world is stepping to the right. I love how we come upon this kid’s “diary” right at the time when he has figured out that he will never, and can never, fit in. We see him embrace that knowledge and move forward. It’s a great message to anyone of any age.

Alexie does a wonderful job of showing us that core, live wire of reality that every reader can relate to. It’s important to have that because the rest of the book can be quite alienating. Most people who read this, just due to numbers, will have no idea what it’s like to be a Native American, what reservations are like, or any of that. This book give s new perspective on a life not often highlighted.

My favorite scene (let’s see if I can say this without a spoiler) is the final basketball game. I think we as readers realize the David and Goliath role-reversal the same instant Junior does. I felt my elation deflate at the same moment his did. Alexie did such a good job at making that moment a blow to the heart. It was the perfect reality check that seemed to remind us that this book wasn’t going to be Remember the Titans or Friday Night Lights. This wasn’t about a game, it was about a kid’s life, and there was so much more to it than that.

As I’m writing this, I realize I don’t have much bad to say. Still, I can’t quite make it that level 5. Blame it on the audio book and the tell-tale-talk of a teenager. If you’re interested in this, I recommend picking it up in a paperback (or e-reader!)

Categories: Pick Ups, Weekly Review, Young Adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Songs from the Phenomenal Nothing by Steven Luna – 5 of 5

Songs from the Phenomenal Nothing by Steven Luna

phenomenal

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I sat down to read a chapter or two, just for a bit, and now I’m done. Devoured. That’s what happened with this book. Five, five, five stars.

This one had me from the get-go. Within about thirty seconds of reading you know Tyler Mills. He’s a teenage kid pissed off about something and is blaming it on his Dad for being a different person than him. At first you want to say “boo-hoo, kid” and kick off, but in the next thirty seconds you realize his Mom, his true connection, his source of inspiration, is dead. And then you feel bad about judging him for being all emo – and then you’re hooked.

What is it about Tyler that worked so well? It’s hard to pin-point. Maybe because he acted like a total teenager but his mind recognized how stupid he was being. Maybe because he was obviously smart and wanted to make good decisions but his fear and sadness was getting the best of him. If that isn’t a good representation of the young adult mind, I don’t know what is. The story was predictable but it moved quickly. The further it gets, in fact, the more cliché, but that didn’t detract at all. I loved it. I loved how I knew what was going to happen, I loved that Tyler did what I ultimately wanted him to do, and I love how it ended. Maybe I like clichés. I’m a firm believer that there are really only so many plotlines in the world, but there are never two personalities that are the same. It’s up to the writer to see an old situation from new eyes, and Luna nails it.

Love Perks of Being a Wallflower?  Love angst? Love teenagers figuring out their shizz? How about if you just love good books? I don’t really care what you love – you’ll love this one.

This book was provided to me as part of the Author Alliance.

Categories: Pick Ups, Weekly Review, Young Adult | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

YA Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth – 4 out of 5

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yeah, okay, it’s good.

Let’s be honest. I picked up this book for two distinct reasons:

1) It’s super hyped and it will soon be a movie
2) It’s set in Chicago, where I now live.

That’s it, the only reasons. I had no idea going into it what it would be. I fully expected it to be far over-hyped, for it to be silly YA, for it to feel like a copy of other books, etc.

But you know what? I liked it. I found myself eating it up. When I had to put it down because life intervened I found myself sucked back in. I found myself thinking about the characters when I wasn’t reading.

To me, this book is a hybrid of The Giver and Ender’s Game. Surprised I didn’t say The Hunger Games? Really, it’s nothing of the sort. It just came out around the same time, is a trilogy, and unfortunately has a similar cover. I totally judged this book by the cover for a long time and had I continued to do so I would have missed out on a really enjoyable read.

Is Roth the best writer in the world? No. But I loved the character she made from Tris. Tris is effin’ scary, guys. I’ve heard some people complain about this book because they couldn’t connect with Tris as a character. Well, I certainly hope not. Tris is a straight-up B*A* with some serious anger issues. She’s still a person and can love and all that crap but when it comes down to it, she’ll do what she needs to do and won’t even care. It was downright ballsy for that to be the character Roth created and I like it. I guess in that respect it is a little like Katniss. I just hope when I get to read the rest of this series Tris stays true to herself.

Anyway, I love the kind of book that gets me absorbed and keeps the pages turning. This book will do that to you. Just let yourself get soaked up in it and you’ll find yourself loving it.

Categories: Pick Ups, Weekly Review, Young Adult | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

YA Book Review: Lola and the Boy Next Door – 5/5

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

lola

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t know why, but for some reason people on Good Reads aren’t a fan of this novel.  Boggles my mind – I loved this book. It’s exactly what I wanted it to be when I opened the cover. Eccentric protagonist who has an adorable next door neighbor. Cheeeeck!  I am a firm believer that the faster you read a book the more you will like it, especially when it comes to YA.  You need to get absorbed.  I ate this book up in about a day and read until the wee hours of the morning to finish it.  That may be why I enjoyed it as much as I did.

But wait – there’s more! There’s actually depth to the novel, which shouldn’t be miraculous, but when it comes to YA I sometimes get skeptical. I love books where the protagonist is, by far, the most flawed of everyone. Lola is clueless. She’s totally selfish at times, but somehow still endearing. Because it’s written in first person we can forgive her fault since, let’s face it, we forgive our own all the time. Despite what the rest of the world seems to think, I enjoyed Lola so much more than Anna. I guess it’s just a matter of perspective.

Sure, there are some scenes that are silly (the glasses breaking?) and the entire reason why she and Cricket had a falling out was just unreasonable (obviously she would have assumed Calliope was lying. I mean come on.) and the fact that Max turned out to be a prick wasn’t needed (sometimes people have to break up with good people to be where they want. It happens. Don’t cop out and take the easy way out and make him a jerk at the last minute.)

But there are some wonderful parts. I love, love, LOVE that her parents are gay. Gay and adorable and freaking strict as all hell. Perfect. I love how, despite his last three paragraphs of jerkiness, the other boyfriend was actually a good person (despite the band ad craaazy tattoos), etc. And I just like Lola. She’s such a real young adult protagonist. She’s naïve in all the right ways, selfish and ornery and yet still a good person. It’s really an excellent balance between being young and not irritating the crap out of the reader – not an easy feat.

Oh, but one more thing, why in the hell is that boy named CRICKET? (And how was there never, not once, a “Jiminy!”?)

Sorry, this is all over the place. All you need to know is that this is adorable and you should read Stephanie Perkins.

Categories: Pick Ups, Weekly Review, Young Adult | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Five YA Books To Read Cover to Cover on a Beautiful Day

Sometimes it’s not about the politics, the strategy, the mechanical prowess.  Sometimes it’s about a book that keeps you propelled forward, flipping pages, and giggling incessantly.  This Labor Day I found myself without a care in the world and a beautiful sun in the sky.  All I want is to sit down and read something light, fluffy, and a little wonderful out in the mild summer sun.  Just in case you want to join me, here are five books I’ve read in one big gulp.

1) Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

perfectchemistry

I’ve seen this popping up in bookstores lately, so I thought I would highlight it. This is a girl’s throw away wonderful summer read at it’s best.  It’s classic high school angst.  Alex, the main man, is Cutie McCute.  The dialogue made me laugh aloud, groan, and lunch-room-with-my-girlfriends-giggle.  The best friend, Paco, is freaking hilarious.

Probably the best part is that mixed up with all this traditional young adult goodness is a healthy dose of racial tension. Don’t read this book to bust some stereotypes, that’s for sure. But that’s not why we like it, is it? Read this in one go and you’ll love it.  Then maybe immediately pick up the sequel. I know I did.

2) Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

annaandthefrenchkiss

If you’re a YA fan and haven’t heard of/read this book yet, you’ve probably been living under a rock.  There’s a lot of hype over this and while I don’t think it’s all deserving, I really enjoyed the read all the same. It was cute and I ate it up.  It has everything you could want in a quick YA novel – cute boy, cute girl, no parent supervision, and Paris.  Done and done.  You get to read about the main character dealing with the typical areas of boy trouble in Paris, boy trouble at home, Daddy issues, but you also get some neat dynamics of culture shock, of growing up away from your best friend, and how that can change everything without you even realizing it.

Sure, there are some parts that are a little hard to swallow -making friends instantly, flawless men with a jealous streak, lack of communication between friends – but that’s why this book is so good read quickly.  The faster you read this, the better it is.  The problems, especially with their families, are real and heartwarming. The characters are graciously mature and immature.  It’s perfect for a summer day.

3) The Tightrope Walker by Dorothy GIlman

thetightropewalker

This isn’t the kind of book most people would think to put on this kind of list, but it works perfectly. This is a story about a young woman finding herself just as much as it is a mystery novel. This is one of those books that’s a blast to devour. The protagonist is amazing. She’s so incredibly believable and interesting in of herself; she comes across as a real human being that you want to learn more about. But Gilman doesn’t overload you with personality, she intricately intertwines the story, the mystery, and the characters effortlessly for one truly exceptional read.

I’ve re-read this book multiple times and it just keeps getting better. I honestly don’t think there’s a better heroine out there than Amelia Jones. Take this outside with you to the backyard with a lounge chair and don’t forget your sunscreen – you’ll need to re-apply because you won’t want to come inside until you’ve finished this book.

4) The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen 

truthaboutforever

Sometimes you just need some straight up young adult chick lit to read. When that’s the case, go ahead and pick this one up, because it’s darn good.

I’ve always struggled with these kinds of stories – you already know it, basically. You have a girl, she’s pretty (but doesn’t think she is) and all around good, super easy to relate to. She meets a boy that is, of course, gorgeous, one that every other girl is ga-ga for, but somehow, someway, he’s interested in the main star. You know what’s going to happen a mile away… but it’s still worth the read.

Why?

Well, first off, Macy, the main character, while she has all those predictable aspects, she’s also refreshingly clever. The conflicts that arise in this book aren’t just a result of teenage angst. It’s genuine and believable and as a reader decidedly older than the “young adult” category myself, still very helpful in putting life into some perspective.

Also, the supporting cast is fun and funny and heart-breakingly sweet.  It’s a perfect page turner that will leave you feeling great with some good memories to boot.

5) Summer in the City by Robyn Sisman

summerinthecity

This is a stretch to consider this book “Young Adult” but it has the fun, flirty feel we’re looking for in a read. My only qualm with the book was that I wasn’t ready for it to end. This book took me completely by surprise. I bought it because the back described it as being lighthearted and funny and, frankly, it has a gorgeous cover. I couldn’t be more pleased with my purchase. Sisman has a great wit and I understood the characters instantly. They were dynamic – as the characters interacted with each other, they grew, changed. Even though the plot line was predictable, it was still unique and well developed. Obviously, if you are looking for the the next great American novel you’re not going to find it here, but if you want well-written entertainment I highly recommend Summer in the City. I found myself unwilling to put it down; this novel was truly engaging and the perfect summer read.

Categories: Lists, Pick Ups, Young Adult | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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