Archive for October, 2009

Hold Still by Nina LaCour

holdTime may not heal all wounds but the pain may lessen. Caitlin begins her junior year in High School in a shroud of grief. Just before school ended last June, her best and only friend Ingrid committed suicide. She left no note. Why didn’t anyone notice? Why didn’t anyone stop her? Why did she leave Caitlin to struggle on her own?

The novel records Caitlin’s thoughts about her feelings, school, family, and friends. Life continues without a pause, even while Caitlin wants nothing but to curl up in her car and vanish. A new student Dylan enters her high school. She is the first person Caitlin reaches out to since Ingrid. Dylan has her own dark moods. Caitlin overcomes some of her depression through photography and by building her own tree house. The adults in this book try to help, but she angrily turns them away. Some months into the school year, Caitlin finds Ingrid’s journal. Caitlin and the reader learn first hand how overwhelmingly sad Ingrid was. There are many YA books about suicide, but this one tries to show survivors how powerless they are to predict or intercede in preventing a loved one from taking her life. Caitlin emerges from her battles stronger and more compassionate.

Lily Hecker, Pelham.

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October 27, 2009 at 4:52 pm Leave a comment

Rosie and Skate by Beth Ann Bauman

skateRosie and Skate is a delightful book about two very different sisters. Rosie, as a 15 year old girl, stuggles with her love troubles with Nick, a boy in her suport group, her drunk father in jail and her sister’s seperation from her life.

Her sister Skate, who is 16, struggles with a long distance relationship and her seperation from her sister, and her own hatred towards their father. Both girls know they only can depend on themselves, and each other, to survive the off-season of the Jersey shore.

Grace, grade 10.  Briarcliff Manor

October 15, 2009 at 3:05 pm Leave a comment

Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink

sisters There are few stronger ties than those of sisters growing up in a motherless household, even more so when the sisters are identical twins. The book opens when Lea and Alice, sixteen years old, bury their father who dies mysteriously. Living with them in the luxurious estate of Birchwood Manor, are their crippled younger brother Henry and Aunt Virginia who helped raise them after their mother committed suicide six years earlier. After the funeral, Lea discovers on her wrist a raised circle in the shape of a serpent. Two other girls in her school have similar markings on their wrists. A spiritualist tells them that they are involved in a world-wide battle against Satan who seeks to return to earth through Lea’s body to lead scores of Dead Souls in a final battle to take over the world. Aligned with Satan and against Lea is her sister Alice. The stage is almost set for the final showdown when this book ends. The depiction of Otherworlds and Time Travel are vivid. The slow uncovering of each clue is overly long, but there is enough suspense to hold the reader’s interest. The Book of Revelation and the mythic tales of plagues and Armageddon underpin this teenage fantasy. Though the reader suspects that Lea will prevail, there is enough interest in the occult, a chaste love affair, and the unraveling hocus pocus to make this an enjoyable read.

Lily Hecker, Pelham.

October 15, 2009 at 2:54 pm Leave a comment

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

20From the title Twenty Boy Summer, one might guess this is a chick-lit novel and it is, but also a bit more. There is a love triangle with a twist; two best friends adore the same boy Mat, but one of the girls, Frankie happens to be Mat’s sister. The other girl Anna, has known both Frankie and Mat all her life. On Anna’s fifteenth birthday her long-cherished wish comes true. Mat kisses her and they fall in love. Up to this point there had been no secrets between Frankie and Anna, but now Mat wants to tell his sister about his new attachment when they fly to California  in a few weeks. He wanted to prepare Frankie and convince her that she was still an important part of the mix. Anna reluctantly agrees to keep the secret but she  confides her feelings in her journal.

Fate is cruel, however, and before the trip to California, Mat dies of a hither to undetected weak heart. Anna decides not to reveal the secret and together she and Frankie mourn Mat for a year. Fast forward one year later, Anna and Frankie are off to California with Frankie’s parents. Frankie has survived a terrible year but now she turns herself into a sex-addicted sixteen-year-old. She bets Anna that they can snag twenty boys in the three weeks they are in California. The two teens sneak out of the house after Frankie’s parents are asleep, prowl beaches that do not have lifeguards, and go to a party that has no supervision. The climax of this novel is the night of the party where both girls get drunk. Anna loses her virginity and Frankie reads Anna’s journal. The sex scenes are not graphic. The book, told through Anna’s eyes, deals with loss, friendships, trust, sexual awakenings, parental responsibilities, and other teen topics. It is hardly a unique effort, but it will keep a reader’s attention.

Recommended.  Lily Hecker, Pelham.

October 1, 2009 at 2:16 pm Leave a comment

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa

melancholyThe new high school year for Kyon will be anything but the same-old, same-old. On day one he meets Haruhi Suzumiya who is a force of nature to be reckoned with. She has no time for the ordinary; indeed, she tells him and everyone else that the only people she wants to talk to are time travelers, espers, and aliens. Kyon is none of the above and yet Suzumiya picks him to be her companion. Now, as far as the other three categories are concerned, she does, indeed, meet them and surround herself with all sorts of supra- normal mischief and mayhem. Suzumiya is noticed by outside forces. Her moods set off mass destruction in the world we know. Only through her alien crews’ intervention is the world safe, at least for now.

Suzumiya is unaware of her earth-shattering powers, but her human attributes are amazingly forceful by themselves. She and her cohorts form a club called the S.O.S. Brigade. Behind closed doors, Suzumiya forces Ryako, one of the members, to dress as a maid or a bunny to entice more membership. She sexually abuses Ryako through her fierce leadership style. Kyon is a hapless voyeur for most of the book, but he finally realizes that the world is in danger. Tanigawa includes a manga version of the book. This award-winning Japanese book travels well. Teen-age boys, especially, will enjoy the mixture of extra-worldly powers, catfights, voyeurism, and non-stop adventure.

Recommended.  Lily Hecker, Pelham.

October 1, 2009 at 2:12 pm Leave a comment


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