Friday, September 23, 2016

THE MEMORY OF THINGS by Gae Polisner

The Memory of Things

The first plane hit the World Trade Center, and many thought it was an accident. Then the second plane hit the second tower, and the world knew it was an attack.

At Stuyvesant High School a relatively short distance from Ground Zero, Kyle Donohue and his classmates watch the first tower fall. The school is evacuated, and Kyle heads home to Brooklyn. As he leaves the smoke and dust behind, he stumbles across a girl covered in ash and dust and wearing a pair of costume wings. He decides to take her home.

Once home safe and sound, Kyle checks on his wheelchair bound uncle. After a number of attempts, phone calls confirm that his mother and sister will be stuck in California until planes are permitted to fly again, and his detective father is hard at work in the rescue effort at the attack site.

The girl seems to be suffering from amnesia and barely speaks. Kyle patiently tries to help her recall important details, and as the hours and days pass he begins to fall under her spell. Kyle bravely meets the challenges of caring for his invalid uncle, watching over the girl, and keeping tabs on the rest of his family from a distance. The impact of the events of September 11 unfold around him, erasing layer after layer of his youthful innocence.

Author Gae Polisner honors the anniversary of 9/11 with her new novel THE MEMORY OF THINGS not only with a stark reminder of what happened that tragic morning, but also with an emotional and inspirational story of a teen who responded courageously and responsibly in the face of frightening circumstances. The voices of Kyle and the girl tell two very different stories about the strength of love and determination.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

100 DAYS by Nicole McInnes

100 Days

100 DAYS is the story of the last 100 days in the life of sixteen year old Agnes. Agnes is one of a tiny fraction of humanity diagnosed with progeria, a disease that causes a rapid increase in the aging process. Although only sixteen, Agnes has the body of an elderly person and suffers from all the complications of aging.

Agnes, Moira, and Boone were friends in elementary until an unfortunate accident that left Agnes with a broken bone. Now they are in high school and fate arranges for them to join forces once again.

Moira dresses in black and wears dark makeup in an effort to diminish her weight issues. She has appointed herself Agnes's protector and would give her life to protect her friend.

Boone spends all his free time working multiple odd jobs to try to make ends meet for his widowed mother. While he is working, she hides a home assembling jigsaw puzzles as she tries to cope with her husband's tragic death.

Although things don't always go as planned, the three friends provide emotional support for one another as they negotiate the difficulties of their lives. Despite the odds stacked against them, they remain positive and determined to experience as much as possible.

Author Nicole McInnes takes readers into the lives of her unique characters and the experience is sure to have a memorable impact.

Monday, August 29, 2016

GUTLESS by Carl Deuker

Gutless
Brock was a soccer player, an excellent goalkeeper, to be exact. It wasn't until he met Hunter that he considered playing football, and it wasn't until he met Richie that he considered playing chess.

Brock wasn't sure what his freshman year would have to offer. He was worried about his dad who had just been diagnosed with a disease that would gradually take away his ability to walk. Soccer wasn't as exciting as it used to be and his old friends seemed to be finding new interests.

The day Brock met Hunter at the park changed everything. Before he knew it, Hunter's dad had drafted him to act as wide receiver for Hunter's quarterback throwing practices. Brock's speed and agility made up for the fact that he had never played football. Despite his mother's reluctance, he was headed to team tryouts.

Brock also found a new friend. Another freshman named Richie began chatting with Brock during class and started saving him a seat at lunch. Brock was fascinated by the talented Chinese kid. He excelled in everything - chess, violin, architecture and design projects. It really wasn't a surprise that he was also a talented soccer player who ended up being an awesome kicker for the football team.

The catch was Richie was the target for every bully in the school. Brock caught flack for hanging out with him, too. Since Brock was accepted with most of the athletes because of his talent as a wide receiver, he hoped that Richie's involvement in soccer and football would earn him some respect as well. And, for a while that seemed to be the case, but the truth was, the bullies were just biding their time.

Author Carl Deuker has another hit on his hands. Deuker takes the sports novel a step farther than simply play-by-play action. He develops depth in his characters and intrigue in their lives beyond the playing field. GUTLESS is perfect for teen readers looking for a story to entertain and to relate to their own lives. This one won't be gathering dust on classroom and library shelves.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

BIGGIE by Derek E. Sullivan

Biggie
Henry Abbott weighs in at 300+ pounds. That explains his nickname, Biggie.

Although he is the son and stepson of two well-known baseball players, Biggie avoids physical activity whenever possible. He is more comfortable hanging out online where he has tons of online friends. At school Biggie keeps a low profile by sitting in the back of the room and staying out of everyone's way.

Even at the gas station where Biggie works, he keeps it on the down low. He considers it a challenge to wait on the customers without actually speaking to them. There's only one customer Biggie wishes he could talk to. He has had a crush on Annabelle for as long as he can remember. He ignores the fact that she is not only a regular customer, but also a regular shoplifter.

Biggie finds himself the center of attention when his mother refuses to sign the form to excuse him from participating in phys ed. Coach places a wiffleball in Biggie's hand and sends him out to pitch. Biggie takes on the challenge and ends up throwing a shut out. Inspired by his success, he lets his younger brother talk him into trying out for the baseball team. After all Biggie has baseball in his blood so why not workout, get in shape, and maybe get Annabelle's attention.

Author Derek E. Sullivan tells the story of a social outcast determined to turn his life around. Losing weight, giving baseball a try, and coming out of his shell, Biggie shows how courage isn't always easy, but the end results may be worth it.

Monday, August 22, 2016

THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

The Smell of Other People's Houses
THE SMELL OF OTHER PEOPLE'S HOUSES is filled with fascinating characters each with unique life challenges. Author Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock does an amazing job developing her teen characters and making them relatable for her readers.

Ruth and her sister are shipped off to live with Gran when her father dies in a plane crash. Ruth clings to memories of home as she attempts to adjust to Gran's strict rules. It comes as no surprise that her first romantic relationship ends with an unplanned pregnancy.

Alyce loves her parents but their separation threatens to tear her apart. Thinking her own dreams need to be set aside to assure their happiness holds her back when she should be speaking up for herself.

Dora's good luck could open doors for her future, but family threatens to ruin everything. Should she really expect more out of life, or is she undeserving?

When Hank makes the decision to take his two brothers out of an abusive environment, he knows it won't be easy. Now with one brother missing, he must decide if he can risk turning to a stranger for help.

The four teens' lives intertwine as they face life's obstacles. Readers will quickly be drawn into circumstances that will have them cheering with, laughing with, and crying with Ruth, Alyce, Dora, and Hank. Although their lives are filled with struggle, they are filled with hope and inspiration.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

LIES WE TELL OURSELVES by Robin Talley

Lies We Tell Ourselves
It's 1959 and it's been five years since the government declared segregation was illegal. Sarah and her sister Ruth are part of a group of ten black teens who will be attending Jefferson High School, an all white school, for the first time.

The NAACP and a community group have prepared the teens for what to expect when they arrive at Jefferson. Sarah thought she was ready, but the reaction of the white students was something she never could have imagined. Pushing, shoving, tripping amid shouts of "Nigger" and "Go home" exploded around the ten new students.

When Sarah entered her classrooms and found an empty seat, the white students immediately jumped up and moved away from her, even if they were forced to stand in the back corners of the room or sit on shelves. The teachers remained ignorant to spitwads and pencils hitting the back of Sarah's head. In study hall one of her black friends was hit in the neck by a baseball hurled from the back of the room.

Another side of the story comes from Linda. She is the daughter of one of the most vocal opponents of desegregation. Her father's editorials condemn the government's pressure to combine black and white students in schools across the South. Although Linda parrots her father's opinions, she begins to question the separation of blacks and whites when she is assigned to do a group project with Sarah.

Both Sarah and Linda are struggling with the huge change in their educational life, and at the same time they are also attempting to understand a strange physical attraction they both believe is unnatural. An accidental kiss shocks them both and has them frantically searching for some way to explain their growing feelings.

Author Robin Talley brings the tumultuous events of the Civil Rights Movement to life in LIES WE TELL OURSELVES. Today's teens will be stunned by the treatment of Sarah and her friends and the extend to which white community members were willing to go to protect what they believed was their right to keeping the South segregated. This book provides excellent reading to complement assigned books like TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and historical texts.

Friday, August 19, 2016

PROMISE by Judy Young

Promise
Kaden doesn't remember much about his dad. When the man went to prison years ago, Kaden ended up living with Gram. Although a bit different, life with Gram has been good. Now Kaden is starting sixth grade and hoping to find a new friend, but the return of his father might change everything.

Living out in the woods in a series of five small cabins gives Kaden a lot of freedom. Gram keeps tabs on him and so does their neighbor Emmett, but Kaden spends most of his time hanging out at the top of an old fire tower with his pet crow Kubla.

The new music teacher's son, Yo-Yo, turns out to be just the crazy friend Kaden needs to convince him that not all kids are annoying bullies. Gram even thinks Yo-Yo is ok, and she's pretty hard to please.

When Kaden's dad shows up at the cabins, he brings with him secrets that threaten to tear apart the life Kaden has always known. He wants to trust the man and hopes that he has been rehabilitated, but the suspicious activity and hostile attitude that surround the ex-con make Kaden extremely uncomfortable.

PROMISE by author Judy Young is at times heartwarming and also heart-wrenching. Kaden learns that families are not easy and dealing with disappointments requires a strong individual. Thank you to Sleeping Bear Press for providing a copy of this book for review.