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HarperTeen – May 5, 2009

Laurel is starting school for the first time and in high school no less.  Everything about it seems wrong.  Her years of homeschooling fit so well with her lifestyle.  Being able to go outside to complete her studies and having meaningful conversations with her mother were perfect.  Now, being cooped up in a building without windows and natural light just feels wrong.  But, no matter how much begging she does, her mother says it’s time. 

Starting a new school would be bad enough, but she is also having to learn a new town.  The family moved in order for her father to live his dream of owning a book shop which means gone are the days when she can go out back and wander the woods behind their home.

Laurel meets David and they become fast friends.  He is extremely helpful when Laurel is faced with a frightening change to her body.  A bump begins to grow on her back.  At first, she tries to ignore it, but it becomes so large that eventually she knows she has to tell someone.

What they discover changes both their lives forever. 

WINGS is such a great story.  It is unique, touching, and funny.  It will definitely become one of your favorites.  The characters are so well developed that you’ll feel like you know them personally.  The way WINGS ends, it seems possible that there could be a sequel, but if there isn’t, it will be okay too.  There is a sense of closure and satisfaction when you get to the last page.


Wings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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evermore 4-glasses

 

St. Martin’s Griffin – February 3rd, 2009

Ever has survived the unthinkable.  She is the lone survivor of the automobile accident that took the lives of every member of her family – including the family pet.  Since her “near death” experience, she hasn’t been the same.  Not only is she battling with feelings of guilt for being alive, she now has psychic abilities.  She can read minds and nothing is secret anymore.  In order to block out the noise that constantly surrounds her, she keeps her iPod cranked to dangerous levels, hoping to distract herself.

Her self-isolation naturally leads to a lack of friends.  Only Haven and Miles, outsides in their own rights, keep Ever company at school and on occasional weekends.

One day flows into the next, until a new boy shows up at school.  Damen causes quite a stir with his amazing good looks and charming personality, but there is something strange about him too.  Damen silences the noise in Ever’s head.  Whenever he talks, he is all she hears.  Whenever he touches her, everyone around her seems to disappear and a warm, tingly feeling creeps up her body.  This would be great if Ever felt she could trust him, but something just doesn’t seem right about him.

Ever must come to terms with her life while dealing with a mysterious woman that seems to have a connection to Damen.  Ever refuses to learn more about her psychic abilities and would rather them just disappear, but in trying ignore them, she puts herself in danger.

Can Ever find a way to live with her abilities and is Damen worthy of her trust?  Read EVERMORE by Alyson Noel to join Ever on her journey through the Immortals Series.  The second novel, BLUE MOON, will be available August 2009.

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Evermore

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Houghton Mifflin – October 6, 2008

Kristi can read minds.  This may sound cool, but she doesn’t get any enjoyment out of it.  For the most part she just hears people thinking:

1 – how strange everyone thinks she is.

2 – what guys think about when they look at her large chest.

3 – her mother wondering why Kristi avoids her.

Kristi’s life took a dramatic turn two years ago.  Her father left, her best friend moved up the popularity ladder and left her behind, and Gusty, the boy she was totally in love with, made it pretty clear he didn’t want anything to do wit her.  Pretty much the only thing that gives her any pleasure is listening to operas, designing and making her own clothes, and her cat, Minnie.  She has worked herself into a nice, comfortable rut.

Several things happen at once that shake up her world.  Her father comes back from Africa, a new boy enrolls at school and appreciates her creativity, and Gusty turns out to be her partner for a huge school project. Everything she thinks she knows comes into question.

Kristi is a fantastic character.  Her hilarious, sarcastic attitude and witty remarks will leave the reader giggling out loud several times throughout the story.  You’ll want everything to work out for her.

Amy Kathleen Ryan does a great job capturing the insecure feelings of a solitary teenager.  The progressive high school, Journeys, is a wonderful backdrop for this unique story.  Click here to visit the author’s website for contests and great writing advice.

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Vibes

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Viking – June 12, 2008

Meghan is obese. She is the largest person at Valley Regional High and her hulking size, oddly enough, allows her to blend into the background. Most people are too uncomfortable to make eye contact and most teachers are content to allow her to remain silent during class discussions. Meghan doesn’t have any friends, but she knows a lot about everyone at school.

Aimee is reed thin. Her list of foods that give her a “bad reaction” grows everyday. About the only things she allows herself to eat are Jell-o and carrot sticks. Her big, floppy hats and black, long skirts make her all but invisible in the school’s halls. Invisible to everyone except Meghan that is…

Meghan feels the need to connect with Aimee. She begins to follow Aimee in order to try and find an excuse to talk to her, but it isn’t until Aimee is betrayed and she and Meghan share a common enemy that they team up for a little payback.

LOOKS deals with many issues – eating disorders, friendship, bullying, and high school dynamics are the most evident. George’s unique writing style in the first and last chapters give the reader a voyeuristic feeling and, at times, the lyrical and figurative language tricks the reader into thinking they are reading and extended poem rather than a work of prose. While the author doesn’t wrap the story up in the traditional way of most young adult novels, it is definitely an accurate picture of the atmosphere in a typical high school.

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Looks

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Walker Publishing Company – September 2, 2008

Caleb Dunne is a slacker and proud of it.  Nothing much gets him riled up.  He isn’t exactly popular at school, but he is definitely known around campus.  The previous year, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and blamed for the destruction of the partially constructed gymnasium addition at school.  He was expelled because of his alleged involvement.  Truth is, he didn’t do anything, but no one believes him.  The only person that even talks to Caleb is his over-achieving, politically ambitious, sort of girlfriend Vicky.

When Vicky wants him to join a club based on the practices of a book called The Rule of Won he feels pressured to agree.  The Rule of Won states that people can have everything they’ve ever dreamed of as long as they want it bad enough and think positively about it.  Caleb has no interest in this club.  In fact, it just sounds like a lot of work to him, but in order to stay with Vicky, he feels like he has no choice.  Soon the group has a name and things begin to get serious.

The Cravers are led by Ethan – a very serious follower of The Rule of Won.  He guides the group by making suggestions as to what they should focus their positive thinking toward.  First they focus on getting more funding for the school, then they move on to the school’s poor performing basketball team.  From there, the Craves become more serious and Caleb begins to feel uncomfortable with the way things are going.  Caleb has to decide if he is going to sit around and do nothing like the slacker he’s always been or make a stand to make things right.

THE RULE OF WON is a novel that reminded me of LEAVING FISHERS by Margaret Peterson Haddix or THE WAVE by Todd Strasser.  It is a great example of peer pressure in action.  Even though the subject matter is serious, Caleb’s voice is entertaining. Only one aspect of the story didn’t seem to fit.  There is a supernatural element that didn’t need to be there for the story to work. All in all though, THE RULE OF WON is an entertaining story.

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The Rule of Won

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Viking – April 16, 2009

Anke lives in a house full of fear.  Fear of her father.  His temper can flair at any moment and everyone around him suffers.   Anke’s brother and sister take the physical abuse and Anke is, for the most part, ignored in the house.  Anke feels she has no choice but to sit back and witness what is going on around her.  Sometimes she even feels jealous of the attention her brother and sister get, no matter how horrible the attention is.

Anke has one bright spot in her day – volleyball.  Against her father’s wishes, she tries out and makes the team.  Volleyball gives Anke confidence and a small circle of friends. 

At the beginning of the school year, Anke develops a crush on Kyler, a tall, blonde soccer player.  She tries to be where he is during the school day and hopes to attract his attention.  She also has a confusing relationship with Jed, a boy who lives across the street.  Between her family’s dynamics, volleyball, school, and boys, Anke has a lot on her mind.  Will she ever get the courage to say something about the abuse at home? 

BECAUSE I AM FURNITURE is written in verse.  It doesn’t take long to read and although the subject matter is very serious, the point of view is coming from an onlooking Anke so it isn’t graphic.  The ending wraps up a little too quickly and there is a loose end that will leave you wondering about one of her relationships.

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Because I am Furniture

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St. Martin’s Griffin – December 23, 2008

CRACKED UP TO BE is the story of Parker Fadley.  She once held the position of queen bee of the school.  She was the Captain of the cheerleaders, always landed on the honor roll list, and had the same basketball-star boyfriend since freshman year.

After a particularly wild party at her boyfriend’s house, something happened that left Parker with major feelings of guilt.  She no longer feels like she deserved to live the life of perfection and slowly starts alienating herself from everyone and everything she once thought was so important.  The problem is, the people around her don’t want to let her slip into the background.

If you are in the mood for a light pick-me-up then CRACKED UP TO BE isn’t the book for you. It is filled with page after page of pain.  Parker has to deal with feelings of loss and helplessness and discuss all of her painful experiences and poor decisions in therapy once a week.  

You’ll read obsessively until you learn what happened to change Parker’s life so drastically. The author eludes to the event throughout the story, but only reveals the whole picture when Parker is forced to come to terms with her decisions.  While the entire book is filled with painful, awkward, and difficult situations, the story still ends on a hopeful note.  It is definitely a book you don’t want to miss.

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Cracked Up to Be