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I got a little excited about the books this month. I’ll try to keep reviews short and to the point. If you’d like to talk more about ‘em, leave me a comment or shoot me an e-mail!
Since I read 10 books this month, I’m splitting this up into two posts. Today I’ll review the young adult novels I read. (See the grown-up ones here.)
Tangerine by Edward Bloor & The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie – I’m grouping these two together. I’ve developed an interest in young adult books about kids with disabilities and how they deal with their peers (Mockingbird and Wonder turned my eye toward these).
In Tangerine, protagonist Paul is classified as legally blind and wears thick glasses. He’s a newcomer and a nerd, but has one redemption – he’s great at soccer. If they’ll let him play. In True Diary, narrator Arnold, AKA Junior, is an Indian living on a reservation. Watching his tribe fall like dominos due to alcohol and realizing his future is bleak, he tries to change it by going to a high school outside the reservation. Now ostracized by his family and friends and seen as an outsider at the new school, Junior only has one redemption – basketball.
These stories seem similar to me – the young male narrators, outsiders, finding belonging through sports. Both deal with tough subjects and don’t skirt around the issues. Both are a little heartbreaking, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, and worth the read. I will say I didn’t like True Diary as much as Tangerine, or nearly as much as I felt I should have, given its National Book Prize and great accolades. While Junior sets himself up as an outsider on the rez due to his appearance (big head, skinny, big feet), the book only deals with his outsider nature to each people group he belongs to.
Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama – Mermaids? Fantasy is not usually my thing. But Marissa Meyer, who wrote the awesome Lunar Chronicles series, recommended Fama on her blog, so I decided to jump on it. And she did not lead me astray!
Here Fama writes a story going back and forth between the present day (2002) and the late 1800s. A mermaid falls in love with a man, leaves the water, and gets to absorb the consequences in Puritanical Massachusetts. In the present, 17-year-old Hester is scared of love, knowing that there is a long train of women in her family who have died immediately following childbirth.
The way the stories intertwine and Hester uncovers the mystery will keep you reading for hours. I finished this one in a day. Fama is a wonderful story weaver, and I will be on the lookout for more of her work.
So Not Happening and I’m So Sure by Jenny B. Jones – In these not-so-typical rags-to-riches novels, Bella had it all – Daddy’s Mastercard, the penthouse in New York City, a rich private school – but then Daddy left. And Mommy decided to marry a guy in Oklahoma she met on the Internet. So Bella’s life is transported to podunk Truman, Oklahoma.
While the whole story is pretty far-fetched, I love Jenny B. Jones’s writing style. The stories are cute, the romance is fun, and she keeps it clean. I enjoyed the mysteries nosy Bella gets to uncover (much to the chagrin of her newspaper editor and sometimes-love-interest, Luke). This series is probably better for the pre-teen crowd – I think Jones’s writing matured between this series and the Katie Parker books. I’ll definitely read the last book in the trilogy as soon as my library orders it for me, though!
What have you been reading lately? Are you a YA reader?