Mrs. V's Booktalk:
I am constantly reading books written for middle school and young adult readers. Below you will find my review on several books that I have completed and who I would think might enjoy them. For more information on any book you see here, see me for the book file which will give you a little more insight. Please check back here often to read about my latest read. Visit your library!!!
Night Hoops, by Carl Deuker. A story about dysfunctional families, divorce, and friendship. The only thing Nick Abbott and Trent Dawson have in common is basketball, so it seems. On the court their lives become intertwined in a fast paced story that moves between loneliness and friendship-- loyalty and betrayal. If you love the game, you'll love this story. (realistic fiction)
Code Orange, by Caroline B. Cooney. A contemporary story about Mitty Blake who loves walking around New York City and feels safe even after 9/11. A carefree teen who waits until the last minute to get started on his research project on infectious diseases. He thinks it's good luck when he discovers an old medical book that contains an envelope with old scabs in it at his families weekend home. However, Mitty finds himself in a life or death situation. Small pox is a virus with one job-- to take over the cells of other living things and spread. It has the potential to kill everyone in NYC. This is a suspenseful thriller that will leave you on the edge of your seat. (realistic fiction)
Sexy, by Joyce Carol Oates. A November day changes everything in Darren Flynn's life forever. After what happened (did it really happen?), life is different and so is Darren. His friends, family, and people who are supposed to be in charge are not who Darren thought they were. Who can he trust? (realistic fiction)
The Liberation of Gabriel King, by K.L. Going. Gabriel King believes he's a chicken. He is afraid of just about everything related to going into the fifth grade. However, Frita, Gabe's best friend, is going to spend the summer liberating him from his fears. While helping to free Gabe, she's avoiding her own worst fear. This story takes place in Georgia during the summer of 1976. Themes: family, fears, friendship and racism. (many emotions are touched in this novel) realistic/historical fiction
The Crow- Girl, by Bodil Bredsdorff. A young girl lives with her grandmother by the sea with no neighbors at all. The two lead a peaceful existence. The grandmother is very old and she tells the girl, "If I'm lying here completely still one day and don't answer you, take my hand and feel it. If it's cold and stiff and you can't move it, it will be because I'm dead." Then the time comes that the grandmother dies and the young girl must bury the old woman. Her journey begins then. One in which she will meet people both warm and cold, helpful and hurtful.......until she finds the makings of her new family.
Kira-Kira, by Cynthia Kadohata. Katie's sister Lynn makes everything seem kira-kira (glimmering). The family moves from a Japanese community in Iowa to the deep south of Georgia. They struggle to sustain the family. When Lynn becomes ill, the whole family falls apart and it's up to Katie to remind them that there is always something kira-kira in the future. (have your tissues handy) realistic fiction
Run, Boy,Run, by Uri Orlev. A true story of an amazing young Jewish boy, who becomes an orphan on the run in the Polish countryside at the height of the Holocaust. Told with the honesty of a young boy who struggles to stay alive in the face of so many dangers.
Heron Cove, by Ruth Wallace Brodeur. Sage is on a bus headed for Maine---alone. This was not her choice, but her mother's. Once at Heron Cove her two great aunts help Sage unlock some family secrets and give her a true sense of acceptance and security. For the first time, Sage has the feeling of belonging to a family.
Cruise Control, by Terry Trueman. (A companion to Stuck In Neutral) Paul's is out of control. His brother Shawn is a vegetable. He's angry at his dad for walking out on the family. He's worried about getting into college and whether or not he will get an athletic scholarship. "My life, a lot of the time, feels like a car roaring down the freeway in cruise control, where you don't even have to touch the gas, only I'm on bald tires going 120 mph, flying wild, and I have no idea where I'm headed.........." (realistic fiction)
Counting On Grace, by Elizabeth Winthrop. Twelve year old Grace can't wait to go to work in the mill. When she and her best friend Arthur get pulled out of school to work as doffers in the mill, Grace comes to realize that her childhood and education is being taken from her. With the help of their teacher, Grace and Arthur get Mr. Hine (a photographer) to do a story on child labor. Imagine working 72 hours and being paid $2.50 a week for your work!!! Great insight on how children were exploited during the 1900's in the American work force. Readers will never give up hope that Grace will make a better life for herself. This story takes place in Vermont during the early 1900's. (historical fiction)
No Right Turn, by Terry Trueman. Boys will love this one! Jordan must continue to live his life after the catastrophe that hits his family, but how? He finds salvation in a sexy, beautiful, gorgeous 1976 Corvette. Ride along with Jordan as his spirit is uplifted and he starts living again. (fast paced read)
Looking for Alaska, by John Green. (for high school audience) Sixteen year old Miles' first year at Culver Creek boarding school is full of firsts: first drink, first prank, first friend, first girl and famous last words. It is a year defined by the search for answers about life and death after a fatal car crash. I could not put this one down. (contemporary fiction)
Wrecked, by E.R. Frank. (high school audience) Talk about a book that tackles several issues: fatal car accident, death, grief, guilt, siblings, self-acceptance, & family problems. After a car accident seriously injures her best friend and kills her brother's girlfriend, Anna, who is 16, tries to deal with the guilt and grief she has while learning some truths about her family and herself. (contemporary realistic fiction)
Exposure, by Patricia Murdoch. Julie is presented with a perfect opportunity to get back at her tormentor. Realistic fiction that tackles the issue of bullying among high school students. This is a fast read, only 102 pages.
Freak The Mighty, by Rodman Philbrick. A beautiful story about friendship.
one of those hideous books where the mother dies, by Sonya Sones. Girls, you will LOVE this one. Fifteen year old Ruby leaves her best friend, her boyfriend, her aunt and her mom's grave in Boston to fly to California to live with the father (a famous movie star) she never knew. This book tackles several issues: moving away, grief-death of a parent, actors & actresses, fathers & daughters, relationships, homosexuality and of course California. (realistic fiction) Another book by this fantastic writer, written in the same style, is What My Mother Doesn't Know. Girls you'll love this one too!!
Private Peaceful, by Michael Morpurgo. (historical fiction) This WWI story is told through the eyes of 14 year old English lad Thomas (aka Tommo) Peaceful, who lies about his age to follow his older brother Charles to France to fight in the first World War. This novel tackles several real life topics such as loss of a parent, first love, poverty, single parent, mental disabilities, and soldiers in WWI-- brotherhood. Through Tommo's eyes you really know what it's like to be in the cold, wet, dark trenches with the rats, and lice, listening to the shells flying overhead. He must survive this horrific war because he has promises to keep. Boys, you will love this one! This is an easy read, I promise.
what my girlfriend doesn't know, by Sonya Sones. This is the sequel to what my mother doesn't know. Girls, she has done it again!! You will fly through these 291 pages in no time. Sophie and Robin are not the high schools most likely couple to be dating. She's miss popularity and his name is slang for "loser" on the campus . When the two begin dating her reputation plummets and he finds acceptance with a different group of students. This novel tackles first loves, self-esteem, dating, artists and high school.
Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli. This story is a celebration of nonconformity. A story about the ups and downs of popularity and the inspiration of first love. A magical mysterious student arrives at Mica High and sparks a revolution. The students at Mica are enchanted by her, at first. Then they turn on her. No one talks to her. No one looks at her. It's as if she doesn't exsist. And she could care less. Stargirl will make you think about the importance of being your true self and respecting others, regardless of their actions.
Jude, by Kate Morgenroth. (contemporary, realistic fiction) Fifteen year old Jude is under suspicion after his drug-dealer father is gunned down. He is then reunited with his District Attorney Lawyer mother, who he's never known, to a brand new lifestyle. When a classmate at his new private school overdoses on heroin, Jude is connected with his death, and his mother decides to prosecute. While spending 5 years behind bars he's determined to clear his name, but doesn't know the mysteries from his past that are yet to be revealed. How far will a young boy go for his mother's love? This is a fast moving novel that keeps you thinking until the very end.
Car Trouble, by Jeanne DuPrau. (fiction-realistic). 17 year old computer "geek" Duff Pringle (I know it's a funny name) has just purchased a new - used car (remember, you get what you pay for) and is embarking on a journey from his home of Richmond, Virgina to San Jose, California where a new job working with computers awaits him. So he thinks. During his 3,000 mile trek he encounters Stu, the hitchhiker with a secret, Bonnie, a singer with a con-artist for a mother, two thugs looking for a car full of cash, and Moony, Bonnie's dog who frequently gets car sick. Anything that can go wrong does, leaving Duff with more than he planned on. This is a very light read that I think the guys will like.
Sold, by Patricia McCormick. (realistic-fiction-- This author traveled to India and did extensive research and spoke to ma) Lakshmi is a 13 year old girl from Nepal (a small country that borders India). Her family is very poor but she does enjoy life's simple pleasures of school, friends and her pet goat. Her step-father decides it is time for her to help support the family and get a job as a maid in the city. She has been tricked and lied to by many adults who promised her she was going to a better place. Lakshmi ends up at the "Happiness House" in the red-light disctrict in Calucutta, India where she has been sold into the sex slave trade. For an entire year she is beaten, drugged, starved, punished, and sexually used by hundreds of men, yet she has HOPE that someday she will be free from this nightmare. Her mother once told her, "Simpy to endure is to triumph." This is a fast read that will leave you very disturbed about what happens to thousands of young Napali girls each year.
Diary of a Whimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney. (fiction) This is a novel in cartoon format that will keep you laughing one page after the next -- I promise. Greg and his best friend Rowley, two undersized weaklings, just hope to survive middle school. When Rowley becomes popular, their friendship is put to the test. I have read the entire series and once you start you can't stop. The antics are hysterical.
Rosie and Skate, by Beth Ann Bauman. (realistic fiction) No dad. No mom. Just their "home"-- a falling down victorian located on the beach of the Jersey shore, and a cousin who comes to look after them. Ultimately, Rosie and Skate must count on each other. These two sisters so close in age, 16 & 15, couldn't be any more different in life. This novel captures their relationship with each other, their love interests and their relationship with their drunken-jailed father. Recommended for high school students (girls you'll love this one).
dirty little secrets, by c.j. omololu. Lucy's life looks "normal" from the outside. Behind the front door is where the secret begins. Every family has its share of secrets. Sophomore, Lucy can't take it any longer. Her mother's compulsive hoarding has ruined their lives and now Lucy has decided to take matters into her own hands. This read makes you think of what you would do if given the same circumstances. Recommended for grades 7 and up.
Go Big Or Go Home, by Will Hobbs. (science fiction) A decent blend of realistic fiction with a dash of sci-fi when a meteorite crashes through Brady's roof, into his room and burns a hole in his mattress. Brady and his cousin Quinn are extreme adventure seekers. During a week of extreme biking, fishing and caving Brady discovers he can do strange and wonderful things that shouldn't be possible. He's also developing symptoms that go along with the professor's theory that he might be infected with a dormant bacteria from Mars. Is Brady's space rock a prized possession or a menace? Boys you'll love this one!!!
Paper Towns, by John Green. He has done it again folks. If you read Looking for Alaska, you'll enjoy this as well. Quentin has admired her from afar. He and Margo are neighbors and school mates in Orlando, Florida since the age of 9. After an evening of revenge filled activities (in their senior year), Quentin can't wait to see Margo at school the next day. However, she has mysteriously disappeared!!! When he finds clues (left for him) he convinces his two best buddies and Lacey to make a road trip to the Catskills in New York to find the girl he thought he knew. The suspense will keep you turning the pages. John Green writes in such a way that you think the characters are your friends. Even after the story was over, I still find myself thinking about the people I met in the story. You won't be disappointed- (pinky-swear).
some girls are, by Courtney Summers. (realistic fiction) Girls you're gonna love this one!! Regina Afton was part of the Fearsome Five. This evil clique of high school girls ran the school. All was going well until a vicious rumor about Regina and her best friend's boyfriend got started. It would be one thing if the rumors were true, but they are far from the truth. Regina was "outed" from the group and became the target for revenge. As the bullying and torture (that she once took part in) is now directed at her, she takes solace in Michael Hayden, an outcast she once bullied. The friendship doesn't come easy, but she works hard to right the wrongs of her past. She also realizes Michael may be more than a friend if the Fearsome Foursome don't break them. This book is non-stop page turning action from the get go. I read it in 4 nights. Couldn't put it down because I wanted to know what happened in the end. In the end true goodness prevails over evil. Recommended for girls in grades 9-12. Boys, you too can read this, and gain some insight into how some girls are ............
The Summer I Got A Life, by Mark Fink. (realistic fiction) - This was my first read by this author, and it's certainly not my last. Summer vacation has just started and brothers Andy (15) and Brad (17) are psyched for their trip to Maui, Hawaii. When their dad gets a promotion to VP at the company, the trip gets postponed and Andy and Brad will have to spend 2 weeks with their free spirited aunt and uncle in Wisconsin while their parents are on a business trip. A small rural town, with no t.v., no computer, no internet....yikes what's a boy to do? This is very different from their home town in San Francisco-how will they survive? The brothers love-hate relationship takes a turn for the better and Andy falls head over heals for a girl he never imagined he would be remotely interested in. This is one for the guys!!!! It's told through the voice of Andy. Guys, you won't be disappointed.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid- The Ugly Truth, by Jeff Kinney. (realistic fiction-humor) He's done it again. I have to say although I did enjoy the story, it wasn't like the other 4 for me. If you've read his other DOWK books, then you must read this one too and then talk to me after. Greg realizes that he shouldn't rush his life by so quickly especially when he's doing so without his bff Rowley. I love to hear your thoughts on this when you've finished.
if i stay, by Gayle Forman. (fiction)- I was totally attracted to this book by the cover, never noticing it made The New York Times Bestseller list. I was sitting in my car listening to NPR's book review (I had only gotten up to pg. 32 at the time) and I was thinking that what they were talking about sounded a little familiar to me. When I came to school the next day and picked up my book, it was the one they were talking about on the radio program and I couldn't wait to devour it. When a horrific automobile accident claims the lives of her mother, father and younger brother, 17 year old Mia must decide to live with her grief or join her family in death. This story is beautifully written from Mia's point of view as she watches from above, herself in a comatose state struggling with the decision to leave or stay. What would you choose???? The entire book takes place within a 24 hour period; however, it's from the technique of flashbacks that we learn of Mia's life up until the accident. Cleverly written. You won't be able to put it down, I promise. Thanks Gayle Forman for such a great story.