RSS

Tag Archives: coming of age

Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby

Wonder ShowThey say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.  I beg to differ.  See that cover over there on the left?  Kind of amazing, right?  And the hand drawn goodness wraps around to the back as well.  In all honesty, it almost didn’t matter what this book was about.  I fell in love with the cover art and had to bring it home.

Thankfully, the story is just as delightful as the paper it’s wrapped in.  Wonder Show tells the tale of a young girl, Portia, whose father leaves the dust bowl in search of work.  Her aunt takes care of her for a while, but ultimately puts her in a home for “wayward” girls under the watchful eye of a man known only as Mister.

Without giving anything away, events transpire and Portia runs away to join the circus.  Literally.  Actually, she meets up with the “wonder show,” which is basically a sideshow of human abnormalities that travels alongside any circus that will have them.  As she adjusts to circus life she makes friends and enemies, confronts fears, and learns to be a part of a very unusual family.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Awkward by Marni Bates

Awkward by Marni BatesIn high school, I wasn’t awkward at all.  I had all the right clothes, hung out with all the right people, and got invited to the best parties.  Plus I dated the hottest guy at school.

Okay, so none of that is true.  Especially since my school was all girls.

If you don’t think about high school (whether it was years ago or you’re still there) and cringe, this book may not be for you.  But I’m pretty confident that most people feel out of place and awkward during their teen years, and this book understands that feeling perfectly.

Mackenzie is bookish and clumsy, but is mostly okay with that because she has her ridiculously high GPA and close group of equally nerdy friends to keep her company.  So what if she attends study sessions instead of parties on the weekend?  There’s nothing wrong with that.  (I mean, that’s what I did, and look how I…oh, never mind.)

Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

Tags: , , , , ,

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

When Alice comes to after falling off her exercise bike and hitting her head on the handle bars during her spin class, her first thought is about her unborn child. Is little Sultana (the nickname that Alice and her husband – Nick – came up with for the baby) all right? Her second thought is of Nick. He is going to be so worried about her and the baby. And once he realizes it’s no big D, he’s going to laugh at Alice’s characteristic klutzy-ness.

But it is a big D. And Alice realizes this soon after she gets to the hospital. When her sister – Elizabeth – comes to visit her, Alice can’t help but notice the coldness in her eyes and words. Her mom is also unrecognizable when she comes in. It isn’t until the doctor comes in and begins asking routine questions to check for brain damage that we realize the extent of Alice’s injury. She thinks it’s 1998. It’s really 2008.

Alice forgot everything, ya’ll. This would be bad in the best of circumstances but, you guys! Things. Have. Changed. And Alice realizes this most painfully when she calls her husband, Nick, to explain the ordeal and all she gets back is an angry and profane response accusing her of being a manipulative wretch. A dumbstruck Alice hangs up the phone after the tirade and only then is told by Elizabeth just what she’s forgotten. Alice is not 29, newly married, and expecting her first child. She is 39, has three children, and is in the middle of a divorce and a nasty custody battle.

That sucks.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

I know what you’re thinking: “Middlesex? What is this, 2001?”  And to that I have to say, don’t sass me. I don’t get around to reading all the cool books when they come out. But this one remained in the back of my mind ever since I heard the first sentence: “I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan.” H-wah? How does that…? I don’t even…

And such was the incentive for reading this book. I heard murmurings around the interwebs that it had something to do with hermaphrodites or sex-changes or something, but generally tried to stay away from spoilers. And boy am I kinda glad that I did. But only kind of.

Calliope Stephanides was born twice. But before she tells you the exact circumstance of her births, she gives the most detailed back story since the Bible. No, not the Bible. Since…my high school U.S. History textbook. (Ask me how tall President Polk was. Go ahead.). But there is a reason for all this detail. Jeffrey Eugenides wants this story to be educational, heart-wrenching, and endearing. Eugenides can’t accomplish this by simply throwing the reader into an opening scene similar to The Hangover, where everything is in chaos and lacks explanation. If Eugenides does that, then the story becomes more about entertainment. Eugenides doesn’t want to entertain. He wants to change minds.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, illustrated by Maira Kalman

Why We Broke UpI read this book in one night instead of sleeping.

Things you should know: Daniel Handler also writes children’s books as Lemony Snicket, best known for A Series Of Unfortunate Events.  Maira Kalman is an artist who has published books of her own work along with illustrating books written by other people.  (We previously reviewed one of her picture books here.)  Together they create a physically beautiful book, with glossy pages, full color illustrations, and gorgeous endpapers.  There was basically no chance I wouldn’t buy myself a copy.

The story itself is a letter from a teenage girl, Min, to her boyfriend-for-six-weeks, Ed.  It starts with a box of things that symbolize the relationship to her, which she is unceremoniously dumping on his doorstep.  Each chapter starts with a full-page illustration of an item from the box, followed by a somewhat stream-of-consciousness retelling of how it became important.

If a six-week relationship seems insignificant to you, and definitely not worth being heartbroken over, you may be an adult with a very bad memory of what it’s like to be a teenager.  Min and Ed’s story is full of firsts and lasts, at times painfully awkward while otherwise being perfectly sweet.  Mistakes are made, lessons learned the hard way – and yet, from an outside perspective, the experience gained in six weeks of Min’s Junior year is invaluable.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Solitary Blue by Cynthia Voigt

You. Guys. This book! Just, okay. Before I place any value judgment on it, lemme ‘splain.

Jeff Greene comes home one day from second grade to find a note from his mom (Melody) saying she’s skipped out on him and his pops because she just wasn’t happy. Melody asks him to be brave and to not bother the Professor (the oh-so affectionate way Jeff and Melody refer to the father who is in fact a college teacher) and try to be as independent as possible. The hell, Melody? How is he supposed to mourn the loss of his mother if he can’t talk about it? He can’t. He internalizes all his pain and builds a relationship with his father based on muting his emotions, wants, and needs. And the father – being the academic Professor-type – assumes that his son just isn’t very emotional, like himself, and is handling the whole being abandoned thing just fine. Le sigh.

So it goes for years. Years, ya’ all. Jeff comes home, does his homework, make meals and goes to bed. Until one day Jeff wakes up sick and stays sick for days and then weeks. It’s not until the Professor and his friend (a monk who also teaches at the University) discover Jeff in an almost-coma that they take him to the hospital and discover he has pneumonia. That’s when the story really begins. The Professor is forced to contact Melody to get some much-needed medical information about Jeff. A few weeks later, when Jeff is almost completely well, he receives a letter from his Melody asking him to visit her in South Carolina for the summer.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Love Drugged by James Klise

Love DruggedHigh school can be a tricky four years to navigate under the best of circumstances.  For 15-year-old Jamie, there is an added complication: he is gay.  We’re living in 2011, when acceptance of the LGBT community is continually reaching new highs, but coming out to family and friends can still be a very difficult and terrifying step, especially for a teenager.  Jamie doesn’t want to wave flags or march in parades; he just wants to feel “normal” and make it through high school intact.

When a classmate discovers Jamie’s identity on a website for gay teens, he decides to preemptively dispel all rumors.  To protect the secret of his sexuality, Jamie begins seeing a girl named Celia Gamez, who is rich, beautiful, and popular.  Celia’s father happens to be in the business of developing new pharmaceutical drugs and lets slip one day that he is testing a new pill that can “cure” homosexuality.  Jamie thinks this is the perfect opportunity to finally become “normal” and carry his relationship with Celia to its expected result.  He steals some of the pills and secretly begins taking them before hanging out with Celia.

As you can guess, this plan doesn’t work out exactly as Jamie had imagined.  The exact downward spiral is best read firsthand, so go get yourself a copy.  I’ll wait…

Read the rest of this entry »

 

Tags: , , , , ,