A book is like a baby. . .it doesn't matter how ugly it is,
the mom/writer is still going to love it.

You won't find snarky reviews here.

What you'll find in this blog are books that teens
who hate reading are reading. . .and liking.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney

Have you ever felt like you hated your mother?  Madeline can sure understand.  It's 1977 and her mother is an alcoholic blowing their welfare money on beer and cigarettes.  While her mother drowns her sorrow in beer, "Fatty Maddy" drowns her own sorrows in food.  That is, until she meets Tad, who is better than food.  As Madeline sheds the pounds she discovers that she has become a brand new beautiful girl who has just been asked to share the head cheerleader's dirty little secret. 

Madeline is connected to Desiree.  It's 1993. Desiree is cute and thin and loves to dress in a way that shows off her figure.  Too bad she showed too much of her figure to Larry, her mom's new boyfriend.  He has decided that's all the come-on he needs.  Larry makes her feel dirty and ruined.  Jeremy, her boyfriend, is the guy who can take her away from all that.  She takes her unborn baby with her.

It's 2009.  Ariel isn't named for the Disney mermaid.  She's named for the book, Ariel, by Sylvia Plath.  She doesn't know her dad.  He's in prison for murder. What she does know is that her mom, Desiree, loves her.  She thinks Shane loves her.  But now he's given her a cell phone, with a GPS tracking device, and if she doesn't answer it the minute he calls, he wants to know why. 

These three women are tied together in a story that is one of the better ones I've read dealing with teen sexuality and pregnancy.  It's not too graphic, so if you're looking for descriptive naughtiness, you won't find it here.  What you will find will be a story that feels genuine that looks unflinchingly at the good and bad of being a mother and a daughter.

Lockdown: Escape from Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith

This is not a story you read before you turn out the lights to go to sleep. It’s not because the story is scary. This book is an adrenaline rush that I devoured in two days (when I should have been getting my beauty sleep).

Alex Sawyer, fourteen-year-old petty criminal in the UK has been framed for murdering his best friend—another petty criminal. For this crime, he is sent to Furnace, the new penitentiary that has been created for the most hardened juvenile delinquents. In fact, as the gang violence became more bloody, the prison became more populated. Now, however, teens are being framed by odd men in black suits with silver eyes and are being sent to Furnace in an alarming number. Unfortunately, if a person is sent to Furnace, it’s for life, so if a person dies in the first couple of days, it’s just not that big a deal. The rules are carefully policed by inhuman jailers, and there is some speculation that the warden is Satan. It’s a survival of the fittest mentality, and into this, Alex is dumped. The vestiges of Alex’s humanity, however, cause him no small amount of attention and potential grief. The book is gory, violent, and action packed. There is little profanity. It just isn’t necessary. Readers become so quickly engaged that the story relentlessly propels them along, and ends abruptly. But wait. . .there’s a sequel that is already being advertised.

NOTE: This book has been nominated as a 2010 YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers--is anyone surprised?