Friday, May 31, 2013

Dualed by Elsie Chapman

I am working with a group of grade 6/7 students for the next few weeks who are involved in a Dystopian Literature Circle. When I asked their teacher what book they were starting with (because I understand these girls eat books) she told me they had all read Dualed. This was a book I have not even heard of- so I ran out to Chapters and picked it up early this week and have been reading like crazy to finish it this week. Thank goodness I finished it last night- now I will be ready to chat with them today. Dualed is set in a world where society has decided that in order to keep their citizens safe, they must produce and raise two of each person. So when a child is born, the next child born has the same DNA and the two are twins. They are raised separately, and their lives never intersect until sometime between the ages of 10-18 each person and their alternative will go ‘active’ which means they have 31 days to eliminate their twin. This story is about West, a 15 year old who has grown up knowing she needed to become a strong fighting machine in order to kill her ‘alt’ in order to live out the rest of her life. But it isn’t easy to watch your family members be destroyed one by one and to know that this could be your fate as well. This was an interesting story. I enjoyed reading about West coming to terms with what she was going to have to do- she is an interesting character. I found that the story didn’t really go into many details about why this society turned out this way and that left me with many questions at the end of the book. It also seems that once people have been complete (after they have successfully killed their alternative) that they are willing to just go along with what is expected of them. As a mother, I can’t imagine having children knowing that their chances of surviving past the age of 18 is 50% . I know that there is another book planned for next year and maybe that will go into further details about this world and what led to a society that is so violent. This book is being compared to Divergent and Hunger Games, I am not sure it will be as popular, but I did enjoy the read!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Golden Boy A Novel by Abigail Tarttelin

I have been hearing a lot about this book over the winter. There has been a lot of great talk about how incredible this book is and so I had to order it. Golden Boy is the story of Max- a 15 year old who is intersex- which means he has both male and female chromosomes and reproductive organs. Yet Max is the Golden Boy- he is an amazing soccer player, a great big brother and strives to always do his best in school. To anyone looking at him from the outside, he is perfect. His father is about to run for parliament and his mother is a successful lawyer. All in all it seems to be a perfect life. Yet, being intersex has challenges that need to be dealt with and Max has never been able to speak about this to his mother and father or his friends. It takes a horrific event to force Max and his family to deal with issues and situations that they hoped would just pass them by. This book is written by an English author, and I don't tend to enjoy that type of writing, but I did enjoy the story. The book is written from many voices which gives the reader an interesting perspective on this situation. You read about what Max thinks and feels and then you see how it looks from his classmates, his little brother and his parents. It is a very interesting way to tell a story. This book is too mature for an elementary classroom, and anyone in high school would want to be careful about reading this book. It certainly opened my eyes to some of the challenges people face. I am glad I read it and feel like Max is a character I will carry with me in my mind for a long time.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard

A few weeks ago, Chapters had all sorts of books on sale and so I ordered several books to read this summer. The Secret Year was one of those books. This is the first book written by this author, and I liked parts of it. The Secret Year tells the story of Colt and Julia, two high school students who had a secret relationship for a year. Julia comes from the rich part of town and Colt is from the part of town where people don't have as much money. The story starts out at the end of their year together when Julia dies in a car crash. Colt must grieve in silence because nobody knew of the relationship. He deals with all of his feelings on his own. When Julia's brother gives him a journal that consists of letters she wrote to him over the year, Colt relives their time together. He has a hard time letting go and moving on. I liked the aspects of the story when Colt is learning to let go and move on from this relationship. I felt really bad for him having to deal with all of this on his own. However, the book also deals with the tension between the rich kids and the poor kids, which seemed a little bit like The Outsiders and books written in the 50's. The story was told pretty quickly as well, there were situations that I wanted more details or to understand how it all fits in with the great story. This is also a mature read- I wouldn't give it to kids in grade 7 or 8 unless they were very mature. I did enjoy the story, but found that it wrapped up too quickly.

Legend by Marie Lu

This book has been sitting on my shelf for almost a year. I am not sure why I haven't read it yet, dystopian novels are my all time favourite books. Today was a great day to sit outside and read for the whole day. Legend is the story of two people, June, who is a rich Republic military prodigy. She has been at university for 3 years now and at 15 she is set to become the youngest leader of this society. Day is also 15 and he comes from the poor sector. He has been away from home fighting to make sure his family stays safe while trying to survive on the streets. June and Day are two unlikely friends, but through a series of events, the two meet and slowly they both start questioning what the government has told them and the truth will shock them both. I enjoyed reading this book. Like most dystopian novels it takes a few chapters to learn about the society and the way this world is different from ours. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series as soon as I can get to the book store.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Skinny by Donna Cooner

Skinny is a story about a girl named Ever who is overweight. She is just 15 years old and weighs over 300 pounds. All Ever wants is to be a normal size, and she knows that if she could just lose weight she will be happy and have everything she has ever wanted. Ever decides to have gastric surgery which reduces the size of her stomach and severely limits what she can eat. As she starts to lose weight though, she is faced with the realization that it isn't just about her size, it is about how she feels about herself that is making her unhappy. While this is a story about one girl's journey to lose weight, it is also a story about how everyone lives with a negative voice in their head. That voice that speaks about all of your insecurities about yourself and how you can learn to silence that voice. I liked this book, I think it would be great to share with girls at the Intermediate level. On the surface it is a pretty easy book, but there is a great deal more depth to the book and it would be great to use it as a literature circle or in a conference with a student.