Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Infinite Moment of Us Book Review

Title: The Infinite Moment of Us
Author: Lauren Myracle
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-1419707933

336 pp.

ARC provided by publisher

Confession time here. This is the first Lauren Myracle book I've read. I know her books have been banned a gazillion times, and more power to her for not being afraid to write about things she knows will offend some readers in order to reach those readers who connect to the material.

The Infinite Moment of Us is a romance about a Wren, a sheltered good girl, and Charlie, a foster kid who had a rough start in life. The book starts with them just before high school graduation. They run in different crowds, but they have secret crushes on each other. An accident gets them together and they have a blissful summer romance.

But once fall comes, Wren will be off to Guatemala for a gap year and Charlie will be going to college. This is the biggest conflict in the book, and the ending was no surprise. (There is conflict between Charlie and Wren via a psycho ex-girlfriend of Charlie's, but it only serves as a plot point to separate Charlie and Wren at a crucial time.)

There is also sex. There are girls as sheltered as Wren who would appreciate a graphic step-by-step description of Wren's first time. Such girls would probably also appreciate a step-by-step description of how Wren managed to get on birth control without her parents knowing, but Myracle only has Wren casually mention to a friend that she got it.

The Infinite Moment of Us is mostly an undemanding story of first love, but the explicit sex isn't going to be for everyone. Know your reader before you recommend.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Teens' Top Ten Nominees 2014 and Book Review Musings

Celebrate Teen Literature was on Thursday, and YALSA announced this year's nominees for Teens' Top Ten.

This is a teen choice list, selected by participating teen book groups throughout the country, and their top 25 titles are this year's nominees.

Starting in August, any teen can vote online for their favorite nominee and the final Top Ten will be announced during Teen Read Week in October.

I promote Teens' Top Ten nominees as much as I can in the library because I know these are books that teens already love. I already had most of the nominees on the shelves and only had to order a few to round out the list.

But what I found interesting is that the few I hadn't ordered had mixed or even bad reviews from the publications I use most to select books - Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and VOYA. The main complaint with the reviewers was that they couldn't connect with the main character, and therefore, couldn't connect to the story.

Yet these teen reviewers had no problem connecting with either the character or the story. What could cause this divide between adult and teen reviewers? Are adults too sophisticated and teens too naive? If the story is good enough, are cliched characters worth putting up with? Do characters that are considered underdeveloped by adults give teens an opportunity to better see themselves in that character?

As someone who reviews books, I think these are important questions. When I review a book, I try to make clear that my perceptions of the book are my own. Then I try to think of who else might have the same feelings about the book as I did. One size does not fit all when it comes to books.

That's why I think a teen review list like the Teens' Top Ten is so important. Because sometimes the adults get it wrong.

2014 Teens' Top Ten Nominees:

  • The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett
  • Of Triton by Anna Banks
  • Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
  • Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block
  • The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
  • The Eye of Minds by James Dashner
  • Earth Girl by Janet Edwards
  • The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason
  • Maybe I Will by Laurie Gray
  • The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry
  • Splintered by A.G. Howard
  • Teardrop by Lauren Kat
  • Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg
  • Monument 14: Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne
  • Six Months Later by Natalie D. Richards
  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
  • This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
  • Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson
  • This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith
  • Winger by Andrew Smith
  • A Midsummer Night's Scream by R.L. Stine
  • Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Tucholke
  • In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
  • The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Bonus Video: Teens' Top Ten Nominees


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Reality Boy Book Review

Title: Reality Boy
Author: A.S. King
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 22, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0316222709

368 pp.

ARC provided by publisher

I've worked in "reality" television, so I know there's a lot of manipulation in creating what the audience sees.

Sometimes it happens during production by influencing what participants are doing or saying. Sometimes in happens in post-production by changing context during editing. It's usually done to build a narrative arc, to streamline the messiness of real life into a half-hour or hour format.

But at least on the shows I worked on, it was never done maliciously. Reality Boy, however, imagines a show that does. Gerald was on a Supernanny-like show when he was five years old and became known as The Crapper because he defecated all over the house, including the dining room table. Millions of television viewers think he's the problem child.

What the camera doesn't show is that Gerald's psychopathic sister, Tasha, brutalizes him and crapping is his way to get attention. All he gets is the wrong kind of attention. The show comes and goes, but the stigma of being The Crapper stays with Gerald. Worse yet, Tasha stays, continuing to terrorize Gerald.

Now Gerald is sixteen years old, full of rage that has him going to anger management, and his parents are still clueless about Tasha. Gerald tries to control his anger by boxing, but he figures he'll likely end up dead or in prison in a couple of years.

Then he meets Hannah, a girl who has problems of her own and who sees beyond The Crapper. How these two people gain strength from each other to change their lives is a compelling read.

I recommend Reality Boy to readers who enjoyed Tangerine by Edward Bloor or Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick.

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