Thursday, January 27, 2011

Two lovely books

I was on a roll with these two. One Crazy Summer was AWESOME. I'm not sure how many kids will understand much about the Black Panthers and the civil rights movement, but the story is genuinely wonderful.

Delphine is the oldest of three sisters who go to Oakland to meet their mother in the summer of 1968. Their mother, Cecile, is completely disappointing as a mother figure. She sends them off to Black Panther summer camp everyday because she doesn't want them around. The girls are feisty and lovable and are trying to figure out who their mother is and how they fit into her crazy activist world.

The summer is crazy on so many levels. It's 1968 and American life is changing forever. But, for the girls, it's also about identity, family, sisterhood and figuring out what's "right." I'm critical of most endings, but this one was bittersweet and perfect.

Cynthia Lord hit one out of the park with Touch Blue. It's set on an island off Maine where the school is in danger of closing because there are too few children in attendance. The town comes together and welcomes foster children into their community. But, what must it be like for a foster child to know they were taken in just to keep their school open?

Thirteen year old Tess meets her new foster brother, Aaron, and deals with exactly that. Aaron wishes his biological mother was able to take care of him and Tess wants to make him feel welcome.

This is all set amid crazy small town antics, lobstering and musical magic.

This is a wonderful middle grade book... heartwarming and sweet.


I had no idea what to expect when I picked up this book. Then I met Amber Appleton, the main character. She's smart, spunky and very loveable. And she has lots of problems like most YA heroines. She lives in a school bus with her crazy mother. Amber volunteers in a nursing home and in a local Korean church and inspires everyone. It's all very Sarah Dessen esque until...


Her mother is raped and murdered by someone who should have been on an episode of SVU. Amber gets sorta depressed and angry and cuts everyone off. Of course this had to happen, right? I mean, a story without tragedy is boring. But, wait, wasn't she already homeless??


But then she turns into friggin Pollyanna and the whole town comes together to save her from her penniless existence.

I don't know, it all seems a little too candy coated to me. I loved Amber and her crazy friends and her wacknut dog, BBB, but I felt like I'd slipped into an episode of cheesy television by the end. I really wanted it to be more realistic and satifying ... more like Honey Baby Sweetheart. Alas, it just slipped into cheesy sweetness.

It was a light read and sorta funny, so I'd recommend it as a Sarah Dessen read alike or Deb Caletti- lite.