2011 Close Calls

And here are a few more reviews of the books we loved but that just didn’t quite make the nominee list this year.

How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

It’s Bea’s senior year of high school, and she’s just moved from Ithaca, New York to Baltimore, Maryland.  Starting your senior year at a private prep school where everyone’s known each other since they were three is not her idea of a good time.  Still, with this move only the last in a long string of them, Bea’s trained herself not to get attached to anyone or anything.  She is Robot Girl.

On the first day of school, Bea sits next to Jonah, aka Ghost Boy, in Assembly.  White-blonde, pale, and quiet, Jonah holds himself apart from everyone and everything.  Except Bea.  Jonah introduces her to the Night Light Show, a quirky late-night AM talk radio show.  Bea instantly loves it.  Slowly, Jonah opens up to Bea as they bond over Night Light and its host of eccentric callers – like Kreplax, who claims he’s from the future and likes to call in conspiracy theories; Burt, who frequently gets banned from the show for swearing; and Larry, who doesn’t really talk but loves to play old records on the air.

But when Jonah learns a dark secret about his twin brother, Matthew, who died in a car crash along with their mom when he was a kid, their friendship is tested.  Can Ghost Boy let Robot Girl in to help him?  This is a story about girl meets boy, but not the one you’re used to – instead of true love, Bea and Jonah find true friendship.  Packing quite a punch, this unusual little book is a story of a boy and a girl’s quest for friendship, family, love and understanding.

Also be sure to check out Natalie Standiford’s newest book, Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters!

Posted by: Megan on March 31, 2011

Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill

Wicked Girls is a fictionalized story of the Salem Witch Trials.  When two of the girls in the village are rumored to be tormented by witches, Ann Putnum sees a chance to finally be seen by her mother.  Her servant, Mercy, sees a chance to live a better life, a safer life.  And Margaret has to choose whether to go along with her friends or marry the boy she loves.  Each of the girls uses the ‘affliction’ to her advantage, but people are being punished, going to jail, or worse.  Should they tell the truth or is it too late?

The novel is written in verse and the narrative alternates between each of the girls involved.  We get their side of the story, but does that make it okay?  Are they bad people or just young girls who have gone too far?  This novel is a great introduction to the story of the Salem Witch Trials.

Posted by Beth: March 28, 2011

Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu

Lucy has a big secret she keeps from all her friends.  Her mother is a compulsive hoarder and their house is filled with piles of papers, clothes, and other junk.  There are only a few narrow paths cutting through the garbage leading from room to room.  The furnace and water heater stopped working and no repair man can make it through the house to fix them.  Lucy has to shower at her gym and never allows any of her friends to come over.  At her previous school, Lucy’s former best friend came over unexpectedly and saw the piles of junk consuming the house.  Lucy was called “garbage girl” by her classmates and was cut off from all her friends.  Now, at her new school, Lucy is determined to keep her mother’s mental illness a secret.  She just has to make it two more years and then she can move away from her mother and leave all the garbage behind.

Then the unthinkable happens when Lucy returns home to discover her mother dead, buried under a pile of junk that collapsed.  Now Lucy must decide what to do.  If she calls an ambulance then the whole world will discover her secret and she risks losing all her friends she worked so hard gain.  Suspense builds and Lucy frantically tries to protect herself and erase the past in the 24 hours following her mother’s death.

Dirty Little Secrets explores the effects compulsive hoarding, a mental illness rarely examined in teen books, has on family members of the hoarder.  Readers will sympathize with Lucy and be equally fascinated and disgusted with her house.  Warning: It is nearly impossible to read this book without wanting to declutter your room and get rid of your unused stuff.

Posted by Emily on March 24, 2011

After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick

Meet Jeffrey Alper, “That Boy Who Had Cancer.” But Jeffrey has been in remission for five years and instead of dealing with chemo therapy is trying to figure out eighth grade. Between his best friend Tad (fellow cancer survivor), this new girl Lindsey (who seems to really like Jeffrey), his older brother running off to play drums in Africa, and trying to pass his math class, he’s got plenty to worry about. Thank goodness Jeffrey has a tremendous sense of humor to keep him going!

After Ever After is about what happens in the years following cancer treatment; dealing with the after effects of the chemo drugs and the emotional stress on your family while still trying to have a normal life. And for those of you who’ve read Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, you’ll remember Jeffrey back when all the cancer stuff was going on.

Posted by Tiffany:  March 21, 2011

The Cardturner by Louis Sachar

Alton Richards doesn’t have much to look forward to. It is the summer between his junior and senior year in high school, and his girlfriend just dumped him… for his best friend. Just when things don’t seem like they could get any worse, his parents force him to work for his rich Great-Uncle Lester. The job? Alton gets to drive him to and from his weekly bridge game, oh and help him read his cards because Great Uncle Lester is blind.

Alton’s lazy summer is now a kind of adventure. Learning the game of bridge, meeting new people including Toni, the young protégé of Uncle Lester and his card playing buddies. Uncle Lester is something of a character too. He may be rich and old, but he’s not brainless, and he sees through the plans of other family members who just want his money. He also has a checkered past, that may just be Alton’s key to figuring the old guy out.

With family drama, a little bit of romance and some serious card playing there is something for all readers in the Cardturner. You don’t need to be an avid bridge player to root for Alton and his uncle, and even if you don’t understand the game of bridge, author Louis Sachar has a clever way of giving just the information you want to know in the book.

Posted by: Katie on March 17, 2011

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman

Elizabeth Rew is lonely.  She is at a new school and her best friend has moved away.  But when a teacher recommends her for a job at the New-York Circulating Material Repository, she thinks this might be her chance to make some new friends.  The New-York Circulating Material Repository is a library of sorts, but it is a collection of objects, amazing objects like Abraham Lincoln’s hat and Marie Antoinette’s wig.

The most exciting part of her job is working with the Grimm Collection.  The Grimm Collection is a collection of the actual objects from the Grimm’s fairy tales—Snow White’s mirror, the shoes of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, and countless other magical treasures.  But items have been going missing.  And there is talk of a giant bird that is following around patrons and the last person to have Elizabeth’s job is now missing.  On top of that Marc Merritt, the most popular boy at her school has been acting kind of suspicious lately.  But she can’t start accusing her new friends of stealing, can she?

The Grimm Legacy is a fun fantasy that makes you think, what if all of those magical items from the fairy tales were real.  What would you do with them?  It is a fantasy story but it takes place in present day New York City, so it will appeal to readers of realistic fiction and fantasy.

Posted by: Beth on March 10, 2011

Candor by Pam Bachorz

Oscar Banks acts like the ideal son.  He gets good grades is respectful to adults.  However, this is all just an act.  Oscar lives in Candor, Florida, a community created by his father.  In Candor all families are constantly exposed to subliminal messages that control their actions and attitudes.  Parents can move their misbehaving children to Candor and have their personality defects corrected with subliminal messages individually designed to meet their needs.  However, Oscar knows what is going on in Candor and decides to help his fellow teens escape, if they can pay the price.  Oscar continues to act like the perfect son in order to maintain his cover.

Then one day Nia, a graffiti artist, moves to Candor and Oscar feels immediately drawn to her.  Now Oscar must decide if he should help Nia escape Candor to preserve her personality or if he should keep her in Candor so they can be together, even though she would turn into a perfect Candor clone.

In Candor Bachorz creates a creepy community that will fascinate and disturb readers.  This fast read is science fiction that will leave readers with a lot to think about and will appeal to everybody, even readers who don’t normally like science fiction.

Posted by Emily on March 7, 2011

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

The land of Lumatere has been shrouded in an impenetrable fog since the five days of the unspeakable. As retaliation for the overthrow of the king and the killing of her people, Seranonna of the Forest Dwellers lays a curse upon Lumatere; those within are trapped, those outside are exiles. One of the exiles is Finnikin of the Rock. Finnikin has spent the past ten years traveling between camps attempting to find a place to relocate the exiles. But it is only when Finnikin meets Evanjalin, a young apprentice priestess, that his journey to free Lumatere and bring the exiles home truly begins.

A wonderful blend of fantasy adventure, romance, and heart-breaking reality, Finnikin of the Rock is at its core a story of hope.

Posted by: Tiffany on March 3, 2011

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Nailer works the light crew, scavenging old shipwrecks for copper and other metals, hoping to find enough to stay on crew another day. Life on his island isn’t easy, as most of the people are very poor. Family, friend and crew bonds keep the island together, and as Nailer is lacking in the family area, he depends on his crew to survive.

Two life changing events happen to Nailer: first he finds some oil in an old shipwreck. Then there is a major hurricane that sweeps over the island. Both of these leave Nailer with some luck, especially when Nailer and his friend Pima find a seemingly abandoned ship, new and full of wealth. This ship has more wealth in single rooms than anyone on the island has ever seen, and as long as all the crew is dead, it will be fair scavenge. Except for the one girl, trapped in her bed, who just happens to be breathing.

Ship Breaker is a fast paced futuristic read that will keep readers guessing, “what’s next”. Nailer’s world may be in the future, but many of the issues and problems can be traced to some of today’s news stories. Fans of dystopian fiction, like the Maze Runner, shouldn’t miss this ride of a book.

Posted by: Katie on February 28th, 2011

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