Monday, May 30, 2011

a few new goodies

I absolutely loved Wednesday Wars so I was excited to pick this one up. Set during the Vietnam War in upstate New York, Doug Swieteck has moved to a small town with his troubled family. He has no friends and his older brother is off in Vietnam so he befriends the local librarian and learns to draw with the help of Audubon's inspirational artwork. When his brother returns, blind and missing both his legs, Doug has to figure out how to survive and connect with people.

This book reminded me a lot of Things a Brother Knows, but it also had that depth of adult-child connection as seen in the Card Turner. This is a very long book and I worry that it won't capture kids' attention, but it's very well crafted.

Carol Lynch Williams has a gift for capturing the raw, painful truth of a situation without losing the authenticity of the teen experience. This is a short and powerful story of 13 year old Lacey who has taken on the responsibility of caring for her mentally ill mother. They have just moved to a new town and she quickly discovers that she can't do it alone. Each character is carefully and artfully drawn and the conclusion is painfully accurate. You'll ride the roller coaster of emotions with Lacey as she swings back and forth between abandonment, fear, anger and loneliness. I would love to hand this book to every parentified child I meet...

I love Elizabeth Scott. I really do. This is a page turner. I read it in one sitting. Abby worships her older sister, Tess, and is haunted by the standard she set. When Tess is in a car accident and falls into a coma, Abby is smothered by surviver's guilt.

This story is a little heavy handed in the psychoanalysis department. I find it hard to believe that a teenager would have such deep meta-anlysis tools, but then again, I think too much. :)

I was frustrated, empathetic, annoyed and compassionate with Abby throughout the story. She really struggles to find her place in the world and to learn that she affects others. In her pain, she becomes unbelievably narcissistic which is so painfully accurate. This is a unique coming of age story.

Guess who snagged the new Sarah Dessen on her way to vacation? That would be me. :)

In true Sarah Dessen style, this story is readable, authentic and lovely. McLean is the child of an ugly divorce and is now moving from town to town with her entrepreneur father. With each town, McLean pulls out a completely different personality complete with name. She promises that she'll make no attachments and leave nothing behind when she moves again.

Of course that doesn't work. :) This story reminds me a little of Hope Was Here (one of my all time favorites). She finally faces up to her demons, makes some friends and comes into her own.

Look for the shout outs to her other books -- Heidi helps her buy a bathing suit from Clementine's, etc. Good stuff all around.

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