Friday, April 2, 2010

Tons and Tons of New Books: Part Three, Realistic Fiction

And yes, you're getting a Part Four too. Sorry. It's just that I want to pay special attention to one particular book, so it gets its own entry. You'll see why...

Oh, and I'm reviewing two other ones separately too, because I'm reading them right now and I want to give them their own.

So I guess you could say there is a Part Five and a Part Six on the way, but not really.

Same Difference by Siobhan Vivian...

Emily just wants something different to happen this summer. Her best friend has a boyfriend, leaving Emily feeling left out. So she's eager to go to Philadelphia when she's offered a place in a art program, even if it's only for a few hours a day.

But the city has its own challenges, and Emily finds herself facing the same problems she would have had if she'd stayed at home. Turns out that pressure just doesn't change. Friendships can be tough, and boys are just plain confusing. And sometimes the difference between right and wrong gets blurred.

In honor of National Poetry Month: Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas!

Anke's father has a terrible temper. She has always faded in the background, never noticed, never troubled by his fits of rage. This means he doesn't hit her, like he does her brother. And he doesn't bother her the way he does her sister. Anke is invisible.

Then she joins the volleyball team.

She finds her voice, and makes herself noticed for the first time. With every serve, she grows closer to facing her family's monster and saving her family.

Fans of Ellen Hopkins will love this book. It's told in a similar style, through poetry, telling the story of a protagonist's pain. But don't worry about a depressing end--I checked!

Ellen Hopkins' fans will also enjoy Punkzilla by Adam Rapp. This unusual book is the chronicle of Jamie--"Punkzilla"--and his mission: to see his brother Peter, "P", before P dies of cancer.

The book jacket says:

Hopping on a bus while still buzzing from his last hit of meth, Jamie embarks on a days-long trip from Portland, Oregon, to Memphis, Tennessee, writing letters to his family and friends--letters so honest he may never send them. Along the way he sees a sketchier side of America the Beautiful: seedy motels, dicey bus stations, and a colorful, sometimes dangerous cast of characters. In his letters to P, he catalogs them all--the freaky but kind transsexual, the old woman with an oozing eye, the girl with the long wavy blond hair.

As his journey progresses, Jamie starts to wonder if he'll manage to make it to his brother in time.

Yes, it's gritty. But it's also a Printz Honor Book, so it must have done something right.

Me, Myself and Ike by K. L. Denman!

Kit Latimer feels alienated. He's paranoid, he's confused, and the only one who steps up as a friend is Ike.

Kit used to be happy, he had a beautiful girlfriend, friends, and a family. But now all that's gone. And Ike just might make him lose even more, if Kit lets him have his way.

This stunning chronicle of mental illness lets us see into the mind of a teen falling into psychosis.

Leaving schizophrenia behind, let's tackle depression with Black Box by Julie Schumacher.

Elena is shocked when her older sister is diagnosed with depression. When Dora enters the hospital, Elena can't make sense of anything anymore.

She spends her time with Dora's friends, the only ones who acknowledge her at school, and tries to ignore her parents' arguing, which seem to start the moment they think Elena is asleep. It only gets worse when Dora comes home. Elena would do anything to make things go back to how they used to be...and eventually all that responsibility becomes more than she can handle.

Presenting the William C. Morris Debut Award Winner, Flash Burnout by L. K. Madigan!

I'm currently reading this one on my Kindle. That's right. Laura has herself a Kindle, and it be Nice.

Yeah, my English professors from college are reading that last sentence and thinking, "Why did we let her graduate again?"

But they probably would know I'm joking...maybe.

They might just say, "Bad grammar is not a laughing matter!" or simply, "Love your dialect." I heard one professor say that a lot.

What I like the most about this novel is the narrator, Blake, who is so realistic, such an accurate portrayal of Teenage Male-ness that sometimes, you just want to throttle him. He's insensitive without meaning to be, he has a girlfriend that walks all over him, but he's so happy to have a pretty girl love him that he doesn't see it. You hate Blake and you love him. He's just that real.

And his reaction to his friend Marissa's problem is what I would imagine many of ours would be. Marissa's mom shows up in a picture Blake takes, only when he shows it to Marissa does he discover that he's taken a portrait of her missing mother. What follows is, for Marissa, heartbreaking. For Blake, it is confusing. His girlfriend loves him, Marissa needs him, and his girlfriend isn't too eager for Blake to be supportive to another girl.

I still don't know what he'll decide to do, and it's infuriating. You just want to shake Blake and tell him to drop Shannon already and go help Marissa. But life doesn't always work out that way either.

This is a wonderful novel; I very much hope you all read it!

Gosh. Is anyone else noticing the trend of heart-wrenching trauma in all of these books? I promise, they aren't all downers, they end with hope or happiness or both! Trust Laura, she would not steer you wrong!

The Missing Girl by Norma Fox Mazer...

This novel has rave reviews. Kirkus (which is a big deal book-reviewer place) says "Mazer's latest novel would give Alfred Hitchcock a run for his money." Now, having watched many a Hitchcock film...that's saying something. Those movies freak me out, so I can only imagine what this book will be like!

Five sisters go about their daily lives, totally unaware of the man who watches them. In alternating points of view, Mazer tells a story that interweaves the lives of the girls and their predator...

That spells thriller. And it looks to be a good one! Fans of books like The Face on the Milk Carton and Z for Zachariah will love it.

Madapple, Christina Meldrum's first novel and a William C. Morris Debut Award Finalist...

Auslag's mother, Maren, raises her in strict isolation. She's taught herbology, many languages, and, most importantly, theology. But when Maren dies, Auslag is sent to live with an aunt and cousins. What follows is a narration of the next years of their lives together, leading up to Auslag's trial for murder: she's accused of killing her aunt and cousin.

The murders are no secret, but the fascinating thing is how they took place.

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