Monday, December 31, 2012

50 Books in a Year: Book #56 Mare's War #59 Dark Water #60 The List #63 Let It Snow

So, the above four books are pretty amazing and I'm kind of sorry that I'll be speed reviewing them. I hope you'll  get the idea of how much I love them, although they are all quite different. I'll be putting up full reviews on Teen Text Talk and will link to those as I complete them...which, um, may be the 12th of Never....we'll see.

Dark Water 
(edited from a conversation on YA Reads for Adults...where you too can join and I love that this was our guest author selection and Laura McNeal was there to talk with us about her book)

I love the ending so much. It's so hopeful and romantic and uplifting that I was willing to accept that even her cousin's, who is truly much weaker than she, hatred couldn't deter her from the goal of finding Amiel. 

I suppose I just see the whole book as being uplifting. I see it as a struggle for a girl to find her own identity, who is forced to find it faster than most because of what happens, and in the end she knows exactly who she is, what she wants and how she's going to get it. Pearl is much more than just a girl of divorced parents, much more than a poor girl et cetera, and while Amiel helped her on this road in the end she did this alone and I can take comfort in that. To me she is more alone than lonely and alone isn't all that bad. I don't think she was lonely just a little bit lost and I could/can/will identify with that.  All the people are experiencing  something that so real that at times it's painful. 

 I totally remember those times in my life when I felt like I was changing, and the world around me was staying the same...I think that's one of the many steps towards maturity. I also lived in my head a lot, um, er, still do and could be that extroverted cheerleader, but was also the person who thought about everything too much. I had to learn to balance those two me's a little better and in the process I grew up and realized that it's OK to be quiet sometimes and sometimes it's OK to yell. I think that Pearl is that the beginning of that journey.

Finally, this discussion has reminded me of this poem:

Song by Adrienne Rich

We're all just diamonds and wood after all. 

The List 

Although I was a black girl in a pretty much all white school, I mean I was the first African-American to graduate from Lebanon High School and that was 1994 (you can read more about that here). Aside from my early years of school, I wasn't really teased. And in high school I wasn't blacklisted or whatever it is teens do to other teens. I do remember being in a clique that would rival that one in Mean Girls and reading this book reminded me so much of those, what I thought were harmless, lists of pretty girls and boys. I never thought about what it meant to be on those lists or to write those lists or to even see those lists floating around.

Popularity contest are not cool.

I love how this book shows this, but doesn't really tie up any of the loose ends...the ending is neither happy nor sad. Everyone learns lessons and everyone suffers. How could you win when the list is so horrible and intrinsic to the very backbone of the school. Vivian really has shown us every example of the teenage boy and girl. I'm pretty sure every adult will see him or herself in the characters and be glad that time is over. I hope teenagers read this book (yes, I bought it for my classroom in hard-cover) and see themselves and use it as a tool to change.

Mare's War 

This book was first introduced to me during our Missouri Reading Initiative meetings. Our presenter Kae read a couple of really great descriptive passages from the book and then we used them as writing assignments. Those passages really made me want to read the book.

This book is quite lovely as it encompasses historical fiction, Mare is a African-American girl fighting in WWII, strong females, and it shows how African-Americans were discriminated against even in the face of war. The book is told alternately through flashbacks in Mare's voice and in the voice of Mare's youngest grand-daughter. It's important to appreciate your heritage and to not take for granted any member of your family.

Let It Snow

Super cute stories centered around a small town and the teenagers who get snowed in on Christmas and Christmas Eve. There are three stories that interweave the characters and each story is written by a prominent YA author.

The Jubilee Express by Maureen Johnson
I love this story. I enjoy a good meet cute. Stuart sounds just too perfect. I could go on, but I'd just feel like some sort of moron. Is it wrong that I want to collect little Christmas themed knick-knacks one day...with a train running through the whole town? I don't think so.

A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle by John Green
This story is kind of like Road Trip meets Pineapple Express meets Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist. I loved. I rooted for the good guy. I wanted there to be cheerleaders. I wished I had a cool nickname like The Duke.

The Patron Saint of Pigs by Lauren Myracle
I'd been reading about how this one wasn't as good as the other two. At first I totally agreed the main character is a whiny, selfish girl who doesn't really deserve to have friends let alone a boyfriend. Despite my dislike of her I really thought she acted like many of the teen girls I see today and in the end she learns some really valuable lessons from her guardian angel and the only entirely tea-cup pig thing was adorable.

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