For my ears: ELEANOR AND PARK by Rainbow Rowell

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So I’m totally late to the party on this one. I found it on sale on Audible and remembered that I had always meant to read it.

What a great book! I know it’s about teens, but I know that adults would love and appreciate it, too. I look forward to my daughter reading this book so we can discuss it together.

Here’s the overview from Amazon:

Audie Award Finalist, Teens, 2014

Bono met his wife in high school, Park says.

So did Jerry Lee Lewis, Eleanor answers.

I’m not kidding, he says.

You should be, she says, we’re 16.

What about Romeo and Juliet?

Shallow, confused, then dead.

I love you, Park says.

Wherefore art thou, Eleanor answers.

I’m not kidding, he says.

You should be.

Set over the course of one school year, in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.

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This is a sensitively written, multi-layered, insightful story that is not to be missed. I listened to mine as I commuted, and it was ably done in two voices:Rebecca Loman and Sunhil Malhotra.

If you missed this when it came out in 2013, don’t miss it any longer! Look for it at a bookstore or library near you – or online!

YA Review: DREAM THINGS TRUE by Marie Marquardt

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I first heard about DREAM THINGS TRUE at BEA last spring. It was listed as one of the best upcoming YA books. I was able to get it through Net Galley and recently read it.

Here’s the description from Net Galley:

Evan and Alma have spent fifteen years living in the same town, connected in a dozen different ways but also living worlds apart — until the day he jumps into her dad’s truck and slams on the brakes.
The nephew of a senator, Evan seems to have it all – except a functional family. Alma has lived in Georgia since she was two, surrounded by a large (sometimes smothering) Mexican family. They both want out of this town. His one-way ticket is soccer; hers is academic success.

When they fall in love, they fall hard, trying to ignore their differences. Then Immigration and Customs Enforcement begins raids in their town, and Alma knows that she needs to share her secret. But how will she tell her country-club boyfriend that she and almost everyone she’s close to are undocumented immigrants?

What follows is a beautiful, nuanced exploration of the complications of immigration, young love, defying one’s family, and facing a tangled bureaucracy that threatens to completely upend two young lives. This page-turning debut asks tough questions, reminding us that love is more powerful than fear.

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So – I have to say I just loved this book. Even though it takes place in Georgia, I could relate to the story, having grown up in California. This novel does a great job sensitively portraying the challenges of undocumented immigrants, especially those who have spent the majority of their lives here in the US and have been positive contributors to their community. Alma and Evan’s story will draw teens in, and I appreciated that the ending was not a “quick fix”.

DREAM THINGS TRUE published in September, and is available at an indie near you (or at your library!).

 

YA Review: AWAKE by Natasha Preston

A while back, I received AWAKE through Net Galley. I love a good YA thriller/mystery.

In Awake, Scarlett Garner starts to “awake” and have memories of an event that changed her life when she was four-years-old. Always told that she escaped a fire and was left with amnesia due to trauma, Scarlett’s memories return in hazy part, and don’t quite fit the story she’s been told. Meanwhile, the new guy in school (Noah)  is drawn to Scarlett (really drawn to her and we later find out why) and they start a relationship. But what really happened in Scarlett’s past? And how does Noah fit in? And why would her family not be telling her the truth?

Well, there’s a complicated back story going on here. I won’t go in to details as I don’t want to spoil it, but Scarlett has a lot going on and it gets weirder and scarier the more she remembers. While I read this whole story and wanted to know what happened, it did pace a bit slowly for me (especially the first half). This is probably because this is book one of a series (or a sequel is coming). The hardest part of reading it for me was that I never really felt I got into Noah’s head. I didn’t understand his actions. In fact, I found most of the characters terribly frustrating. But I kept reading because I really wanted to know what happened to Scarlett (thus my distress over the somewhat “hanging” ending)!

I’ll be curious what others think. This book releases Aug. 4. Thanks for my review e-copy!

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YA Review: THE SECRETS WE KEEP by Trisha Leaver

Publishing on April 28 is the YA read: THE SECRETS WE KEEP, which I got as an ARC from Net Galley.

Teenage twins Ella and Maddy might be identical, but their personalities are very different. Maddy is the “golden girl” – popular, beautiful, homecoming queen material. Ella is more introverted, artistic, and quiet. When a tragic accident leaves Maddy dead and Ella in the hospital, her first words are “Maddy”. Thus begins the charade where Ella decides to take on Maddy’s personality and live Maddy’s life, to make up for the fact that Maddy’s life was cut short.

This was the kind of book that I would have absolutely loved as a teen! I actually really enjoyed it as an adult, too. As a mother, my heart just about broke for Ella, as she felt herself less worthy than her more outgoing and popular sister. As always, I enjoy books with themes of self-forgiveness and self-growth.

Recommended for older YA readers, this is a book that could leave you wondering, “What would I do?”

See this book at an indie bookstore near you — I am an Indie Bound affiliate:


Find it at an Indie!

YA Review: THE WICKED AWAKENING OF ANNE MERCHANT by Joanna Wiebe

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Last year at this time I read and reviewed THE UNSEEMLY EDUCATION OF ANNE MERCHANT (see review here: https://drbethnolan.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/ya-review-the-unseemly-education-of-anne-merchant-by-joanna-wiebe/).

I liked it, so when the folks at Ben Bella Books offered me the next book in the series, I said yes please!

This novel, book 2 in the trilogy, picks up whether the first one left off. Anne is still fighting for her life, so to speak, and trying to work out her relationship with Ben and save him, too. This installment spends a lot of time giving more background and fleshing out the story of Anne and her family, her powers, etc. To be honest, I didn’t care for this book as much as the first, largely because I felt there was a lot of dialogue. Whenever there was action, though, especially at the end, I could scarcely put it down. I also got confused about what characters were what, given that some used more than one name. And to be honest, this story had a lot more about the demons in it, and demons really aren’t my thing (though I have lots of friends who love paranormal type reading with demons, etc.). I’m more of a ghost or psychic powers person.

Anyway, just wanted to be honest! I still look forward to the next and final book in this series to see how intelligent and fiery Anne will solve her problems!

Thank you for my review copy (I love the cover)!