Thursday, November 24, 2011

Man Eating Horses & Chocolate

Let's start with dessert, shall we? I read this book because I love Gabrielle Zevin. Elsewhere is one of my all time favorite books. I had no idea what to expect when I read it and was pleasantly surprised.

The premise of this book is brilliant. Set in the near future, all the luxuries of the world are in short supply -- water, paper and phone calls are all rationed. In addition, chocolate and coffee have been banned (much like prohibition). This is the perfect setting for today's caffeine-addicted teens (and teen librarians). :)

Set in this slightly off-putting world, is a story of a mob family that deals in black-market goods. It's the story of a teenage girl who has to find her place in the world and in her family. She makes incredibly difficult choices for and sometimes, in spite of, the people she loves.

I found this novel incredibly powerful. There's nothing typical about this coming of age story. And by the end, you'll feel the pain of her difficult decisions. (The end is fabulous and heart-wrenching).

So maybe man-eating horses aren't the best topic for Thanksgiving, but you'll have to get over it.

I just finished this book and was a blubbering mess by the end. I had some trouble getting into it at first. I'm not very good at keeping track of characters and this story is set in a complicated world of horses, a tight-knit nosy community and family tragedy.

Once I got into it, though, the story blew me away. I'm usually disappointed when authors insert a love story into a science fiction/fantasy, but this one was so much more than that. It's about survival, family, brutality and pushing the limits of what these teens will do for love.

This story will especially appeal to teens who have known the love and loyalty of a horse. It's very touching.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Without Tess

Marcella Pixley is an amazing author. I will recommend Freak to kids for years to come.

Her new book, Without Tess, did not disappoint. Wow.

The entire book reads with a whimsical, almost dreamlike, childhood quality and the poetry sprinkled between the chapters cut right to the bone.

Lizzie is struggling with the death of her sister, Tess. She blames herself for her sister's death... but it's so much more than that. Tess struggled with mental illness masked by fantastical play and a magical connection with her devoted sister. How could her immortal, magical sister perish and leave her behind? It's all too much to take.

The story is told in short chapters going back and forth between memories of the past, therapy sessions and poetry from both girls.

I was pleased to see not only the frailty and flaws, but also the power and strength of the adults in Lizzie's life. This is a quick and satisfying read and will leave you with tears in your eyes.