Posts tagged ‘Identity’

Headlong by Kathe Koja

headlong

Where do our leaders come from? There are some who are privileged from birth and feel that they are, indeed, the best – these are the sons and daughters who are educated in private academies and then go on to the Ivies. Is this not their birthright?

Lily is a sophomore at Vaughn, one of the turreted havens for the rich. Academically and socially, she and her cohorts check their grade averages several times per day. But wait – this citadel also opens its doors to a few gifted public school students and gives them scholarships. They, too, then rub shoulders in this heady atmosphere. One such recipient is Hazel, a girl from a city ghetto. The blond elite from Vaughn do not overawe Hazel. The group snobbery or the faculty that transfixes Lily doesn’t intimidate this gifted outsider. It appears Hazel is a lot more savvy about art and literature than the students at Vaughn. She can talk about Modigliani and she has actually read J. D. Salinger. Lily feels an enormous camaraderie with Hazel and thereby becomes estranged from the other students and her parents. The rest of the book covers her feelings and doubts about staying at Vaughn. By the conclusion, however, Hazel returns to her former high school and Lily stays put at Vaughn. This is an interesting book about the search every teen must make to find out who she is and where she fits in. It is about friendships, belonging, mother/daughter relationships, boyfriends, and growing up. More questions than answers remain to be resolved. Recommended by Lily Hecker, Pelham.

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November 5, 2008 at 6:25 pm Leave a comment

Jerk California by Jonathan Friesen

Although this book feels a bit scattered and slightly confusing in the very beginning, bouncing around in time periods of the protagonists life, it quickly falls into a nice groove as you are invited into the life of an 18 year old boy with Tourrette’s syndrome living in a “middle of nowhere” kind of country town. Sam has always blamed his problems on his Tourrette’s and, in turn, on his father who died wrecklessly, abandoning him and his mother when he was 2 years old and passing to him this “freak” disease. However, as the book progresses we learn along with Sam that everything that his “new father” has told him about his “real father” is a lie – and we can only see just how bad this “new father” is as Sam discovers this for himself. Sam’s emotional journey is prodded along by a carefully planned road trip mapped out by a very good friend of his “real father” that he ends up taking with a mesmorizingly beautiful girl with problems of her own. This is a very well written book about self discovery that feels a little bit more complex and dense than your average YA book. I would recommend this mostly to high schoolers, but it is certainly not inappropriate for advanced 7th or 8th grade readers.
(Review by Amy Kaplan)

October 3, 2008 at 4:15 pm Leave a comment


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