Monday, September 28, 2015

Can't Look Away by Donna Cooner

This book is one that I have had on my shelf for a while- I ordered it with a Scholastics Book Club order in the spring and never got around to reading it until this weekend.  I didn't realize until I finished the book that it was written by the same author as Skinny- which I quite liked too.

Can't Look Away is the story of Torrey, a 16 year old blogger who found fame on the Internet sharing her beauty tips.  What the public sees of Torrey is one side, but in her private life she is dealing with the death of her younger sister just a few months ago.  She feels a great deal of guilt and doesn't know how to cope with the changes in her family.  When her family packs her up and moves her across the country, Torrey hopes she can remain anonymous because strangers online are saying very cruel things about her.  As Torrey gets to know a local boy whose family owns the local funeral home, she starts learning more about death and the Mexican tradition of el Dia de los Muertos or The Day of the Dead.  Torrey starts to explore her own feelings about death and how she can mourn the death of her sister.

I couldn't stop reading this book.  It was sad and hard to read at points, but I could see so many of my students in Torrey.  Even just dealing with the whole idea of being famous on the internet and the different ways people respond to complete strangers in the comment section makes this book an important one to read. Watching how Torrey and her family deal with the loss of her sister also makes this book quite compelling.  I really enjoyed it.  

Monday, September 21, 2015

Say You Will by Eric Walters

It's no secret that anyone who knows me, knows that I love reading Eric Walter's books.  So when I saw this one at Chapters this summer, I picked it up without ever reading the back.  It took me a while to get back to reading YA books because I was reading mostly adult books over the summer, but now that school is back in session, I need to work my way through a very large pile of books I have purchased!

Say You Will is about the new fad of big elaborate "promposals" where boys go out of their way to make a very public and expensive show of asking a girl to the prom with them.  In this story, Sam is a very smart young man who is trying to learn to fit in.  He is lucky to have his two best friends to support him, but he is working very hard to seem like just a regular guy.  After watching a promposal, Sam decides he is going to risk asking the girl he likes to go to the prom with him.  He is willing to risk spending lots of money and facing the fear of public rejection. His best friends think he is crazy and his parents are worried he will get hurt, but nothing will stop Sam from coming up with an unusual promposal for the girl he is interested in.

This was a cute book, a very fast read.  I like that Walters wrote a book that is more geared towards girls- not that boys wouldn't enjoy the book, but I think more girls would be drawn to it.  That is a nice change because most of his books tend to be written for male audiences, although because the stories are so compelling, girls also enjoy them.  I can see many grade 8 girls enjoying this book!  I have a few I am going to pass it onto.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

At work this week, my friend Brenda was telling me about a book she read over the weekend.  Brenda had read a review of this book and picked it up.  She was asking me if I had read it, and I hadn't even heard of it!  She brought it in for me to read and even though I don't usually get much reading done through the week, I found myself staying up way too late reading it.

I'm not exactly sure how to describe this book, but it was such an rich story.  Minnow is the main character and when we meet her, she is in a juvenile detention centre.  As the story unfolds, we discover how she ended up there.  It is certainly not as simple as the fact that she committed a crime, which she did.  But it is about her whole life and how it lead to the moment of committing a crime.  As we learn about what it was like growing up in a cult community, the reader starts to understand why Minnow trusts no one, not even herself.  As she tells her story, she starts questioning everything she has ever believed and has to come to grips with what she now believes in and mostly learning to trust herself.

I'm not sure I am doing justice to this story at all.  Let's just say I could not put it down.  Minnow is such a complicated, yet simple character.  Her story is complicated, but simple.  I would have this book in my grade 7 classroom, but I would be careful who was reading it.  There is certainly some mature content.