Friday, February 24, 2012

Review of Where She Went by Gayle Forman


It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

I admit, when I heard there would be a sequel to If I Stay, I was dubious. If I Stay was an emotional read that left me thinking hard about the choices Mia had to make. Although Where She Went is a very different book from If I Stay, the entire novel worked beautifully, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Where She Went is told from Adam’s point of view which I thought worked well, because I think Mia’s voice could’ve started tired or disjointed in the event of a sequel. Adam’s character is nicely depicted--still sweet and caring, but a little more jaded. I also thought it was a good idea to continue with the story but get his perspective, because it seems likely to me that more people will identify with Adam’s end of the tragedy as opposed to Mia’s.

I can totally see why some people might not like this story, because it’s rather dependent on chance, and the characters don’t make choices that are entirely rational. However, Forman is naturally good at characterization, and several of the chapters served as flashbacks which nicely fleshed out Mia and Adam’s respective stories. Ultimately, I think these flashbacks also helped justify a lot of the characters’ decisions. Also, Forman’s writing was as stunning as ever.

Forman has accomplished a difficult feat in writing a sequel that was just as good, if not better, than its predecessor. Where She Went is all at once a quick, painful, uplifting, and inspiring novel. As if the quality of this duology wasn’t enough to leave me wanting more, after hearing Forman talk about her upcoming novel Just One Day at a signing in December, I’d like more of her books yesterday.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Review of Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

Okay for Now
Midwesterner Gary D. Schmidt won Newbery Honor awards for Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boys and The Wednesday Wars, two coming-of-age novels about unlikely friends finding a bond. Okay For Now, his latest novel, explores another seemingly improbable alliance, this one between new outsider in town Doug Swieteck and Lil Spicer, the savvy spitfire daughter of his deli owner boss. With her challenging assistance, Doug discovers new sides of himself. Along the way, he also readjusts his relationship with his abusive father, his school peers, and his older brother, a newly returned war victim of Vietnam.

I hadn’t heard anything about Gary D. Schmidt’s Okay for Now until my book club picked it up. When I finally got around to reading it (i.e. after the meeting where we actually discussed it), I was surprise by how endearing Doug Sweiteck’s character is and how quickly the story reads. I had a few qualms with Schmidt’s novel, but Doug is a narrator who stays close to my heart.

Why is Doug Sweiteck so awesome? Because Schmidt’s strength is characterization, clearly. Doug had a sensitive, emotional side, but he also cracked me up. Seriously, his complaints about having to read Jane Eyre are hilarious. Plus, Lil Spicer is another awesome character.

The plot of his novel was enjoyable overall, but I wasn’t such a big fan by the end. Schmidt incorporates a lot of major themes in this novel: baseball, Vietnam, first love, etc. Yes, he tied his plot up really nicely. However, there were so many big themes coming across that it was easy to get lost in the midst of them and for Doug’s tale to come off as a tad melodramatic at times.

Okay For Now is a worthwhile read. Every time I think about this book, the first thing that comes to mind is how much I loved Doug. If you seek an emotional but humorous read told from a male perspective, look no further.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.

Monday, February 20, 2012

When Young Adult Literature and Graduate School Meet

Hi everyone! As you can see, the blog has been pretty quiet these days. Sorry about that. You may be thinking, "That Liz. She is probably slacking and not reading any YA books! Sheesh!" Well, I have to tell you, that's not entirely true. I am still reading some YA books for leisure, but I have actually been reading 2-4 books a week for a class I'm taking called Resources for YA. Below are the shelves which contains all of the books I have to read for it.
The only book missing from that shelf is Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. We read a total of 53 books, 14 of which had to be completed for the first class. I had already read some of them, but if you're wondering what I did over my Christmas vacation, there's your answer.

Believe it or not, Resources for YA is not purely a YA lit class. As you may remember, I'm studying to be a librarian, so it's basically all about learning how to serve teens in a library setting. In reality we spend roughly 20 minutes a week discussing the reading. Otherwise, we learn things like how to evaluate websites for teenagers, and practice building core periodicals collections for young adults. You'll notice that in my IMM/What Are You Reading posts? That I haven't mentioned any of these books--it's one of my ways of keeping my school and personal lives separate. If you want to ask me about any specific titles, feel free to do so in the comments!

Hopefully that explains some of why I haven't been posting as much and what I've been up to. Nicole of WORD for Teens is taking a YA class that is more literature based. Check out her posts here!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

In My Mailbox (50) and What Are You Reading?

In my mailbox is hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren.
Linger by Maggie Stiefvater (Audiobook)
Chime by Franny Billingsley (Audiobook)
(Read both of these as books and I'm listening to the Chime audiobook review now and it's awesome. Will be reviewing the actual book eventually.)
Christmas gifts (Yes, I am just now posting the IMM that was supposed to go up right after Christmas. Whoops.):
Crossed by Ally Condie (From Santa! Meaning I got it for myself and gave it to my mother to wrap. Wound up wrapping it myself. I acted surprised nonetheless.)
The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler (From Shanyn of Chick Loves Lit. Thanks, Shanyn!)

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (My review)
Dearly Departed by Lia Habel
Enthralled: Paranormal Diversions edited by Kelly Armstrong and Melissa Marr
Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt
Where She Went by Gayle Forman
Chime by Franny Billingsley
Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, & Lauren Myracle

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country by Allan Richard Shickman (My review)
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

Currently reading:

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen
The Lost Saint by Bree Despain
Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

What I plan to read:
Purple Daze by Sherry Shahan
The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
by Andrea Cremer

Friday, February 3, 2012

Review of Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

Some Girls Are
Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard--falling from it is even harder. Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High... until vicious rumors about her and her best friend's boyfriend start going around. Now Regina's been "frozen out" and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day. She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully. Friendship doesn't come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend... if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don't break them both first.

Tensions grow and the abuse worsens as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up To Be.

I have owned all three of Courtney Summers’ books since April of 2011, and when Misty of Book Rat did a TBR Tuesday on all of her novels, I decided it was time for me to read Some Girls Are. I devoured it. Some Girls Are kept me up into the wee hours of the morning and left me feeling as though the wind had been knocked out of me.

I knew Some Girls Are was going to be good. I knew that it would be fast-paced. What I did not realize was the impact it would have on me.

This book was like a punch in the stomach, I mean that in the best way possible. Regina goes through hell and back in this book. The physical and emotional pain she goes through are gritty and near unimaginable, but they aren’t.

Some Girls Are resonated so well with me because I knew what it was like. I have been in cliques. I have been frozen out of cliques. I have frozen other people out of cliques. I have seen this happen to other people. Summers’ characters reminded of my childhood, and I’m sure this is the case for many other readers. It’s what makes Some Girls Are a read that is tough but mesmerizing.

This is not a light, breezy contemporary novel. I flew through Some Girls Are and was slammed by the emotional impact of it. I won a signed copy of this book from a fellow blogger wherein Summers promised me mean girls, and I got so much more than that.


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