Saturday, July 24, 2010

SLIDING ON THE EDGE by C. Lee McKenzie



Shawna Stone has never really known the real story about the dad she never knew.  All she can remember is moving from place to place as her mother switched from one creepy boyfriend to another.  Lately, home has been Las Vegas.  Her mother has the gambling bug and spends her nights partying and drinking, and her days sleeping it off.

It isn't a complete surprise when Shawna discovers a note, a bus ticket, and $100.  According to the note, Shawna is to take the bus to Sacramento, California, and call someone named Kay Stone.  The note says the woman is her grandmother, and Shawna will be staying with because her mother has decided to head off with her latest boyfriend.

The temptation to stay in Vegas and use the $100 to survive until she finds a job is Shawna's first thought.  Reality sinks in when she remembers the rent is due today, and she knows their landlord won't be happy with a measly 100 bucks.  There's nothing to do but head to the bus station.

After she arrives in California, Shawna can't believe she will be living out in the middle of nowhere on her grandmother's horse farm.  As they bounce along the entrance road, she sees not only horses, but also a flea-bitten dog and a small herd of naked sheep.  It doesn't take long to find out living here will mean daily chores and more rules than she can possibly keep track of.  Returning to Vegas is all Shawna can think about.

SLIDING ON THE EDGE is the story of a young girl struggling with countless issues as she lives with her 60 year old grandmother who has demons of her own.  Together they must find a way to co-exist and maybe even discover the love and trust they have both lost.  Told in alternating chapters that overlap more and more as they begin to connect, this novel is filled with feelings of both pain and hope that given time life can turn around.

Friday, July 23, 2010

VIOLA IN REEL LIFE by Adriana Trigiani



VIOLA IN REEL LIFE tells the story of a year in a boarding school in South Bend, Indiana. 

Viola is used to New York City living.  Her parents are documentary film makers, and she plans to follow in their film footsteps.  Usually if her parents' work takes them away from home for any extended period, she would be placed in the care of her grandmother, but since her actress grandmother has a previous commitment, this time different plans are made for the young teen.

The idea of leaving New York and heading to the Midwest for a year at an all-girl boarding school has Viola steaming mad.  How could they?  They keep telling her things like how her mother spent a year at The Perfect Academy for Young Women, and that it will be a year she'll remember for a lifetime.  Who cares?  Viola doesn't want to leave her friends behind, and she certainly doesn't want to miss her freshmen year of high school at LaGuardia Arts. 

No matter how much she objects, Viola finds herself being driven halfway across the country and moved in with three other freshmen roommates.  She is feeling just like her bland, beige bedspread as she watches the rest of the girls settle in.  Sure that none the others are here against their will, she reluctantly embarks on what she believes will be the worst year of her life.

Much to Viola's surprise, loneliness drives her to rely on her roommates and gradually open up to them.  Her interest in film making earns her the respect of her classmates when she is volunteered to create the video scenery for the annual Founders' Day celebration.  Once she experiences success, she becomes determined to make her mark at The Perfect Academy.

Author Adriana Trigiani is well-known for her adult novels.  In VIOLA IN REEL LIFE, she uses her talent as a fresh new voice in young adult fiction.  Trigiani takes readers into Viola's life as she learns to adjust to life away from home and family.  Her plot includes Viola's interest in film, the problems her roommates are facing, a touch of romance, and even an interesting ghostly presence.  Though this novel is rather tame in comparison to some of the latest teen offerings, it should capture readers and perhaps have them wanting to hear more from Viola in the future.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

SLEEPING FRESHMEN NEVER LIE by David Lubar



SLEEPING FRESHMEN NEVER LIE by David Lubar is another book that, although it has been on my classroom shelf for years, I've never taken the time to read it.  Well, I finally took the time, and now I'm highly recommending it.

Lubar has humorously included all the dread and tension associated with starting high school.  Main character, Scott, is not looking forward to bus rides, gym class, and the assorted encounters with upperclassmen he has grown up hearing about from previous high school newbies.  He learns quickly to never fall asleep on the morning bus ride to school and to take cover behind any more awkward, taller, or simply any other freshman available.  Avoiding attacks and letting some other poor sap feel the pain, makes surviving the first fateful year of high school easier.

To complicate matters Scott is a bit of a nerd.  His major form of recreation is reading which would make him a target for taunting even if he wasn't a freshman.  He isn't able to benefit much from sibling advice since his older brother never got it together enough to graduate.  Bobby may have been popular with the ladies, but as far as useful advice about dealing with teachers, stacks of homework, and bullies, he is a waste.

The other factor creating a challenge this year is the fact that Scott's mother has announced that she is pregnant.  Scott would have thought two sons was plenty for any parent, but judging by the excitement exhibited by his parents, this new addition to the family is cause for celebration.

As Scott journeys through the perils of his freshman year, he exercises his writing talents in a diary to his yet unborn sibling.  In it he gives advice for living in this crazy world that is both hilarious and poignant.  He occasionally seeks help from family and friends, but often relies on the diary and sharing his thoughts with his future kid brother/sister as a way to relieve the stress and confusion of the most difficult year of his life to date.

Author David Lubar's great talent for entertainment is evident in SLEEPING FRESHMEN NEVER LIE from the very first chapter.  Scott's experiences are perfect examples of the horrors many face as freshmen making this a book that has a little something for everyone.  An added feature I appreciated was Lubar's constant references to well-known kid and young adult literature.  Making Scott an avid reader and writer added a quirky, yet inspiring aspect to his story.  I'm glad I randomly grabbed this one off the shelf.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

ONCE WAS LOST by Sara Zarr



Faith is what gets many through the tough times.  Samara "Sam" has been raised surrounded by faith and believing in miracles, but lately a number of things have her doubting those beliefs.

Sam is a PK (preacher's kid) and held up to expectations she is beginning to resent.  Her father spends 60-70 hours a week doing church business.  He's a great guy, and she knows he's a terrific help to the members of his congregation, but his dedication to them often leaves Sam and her mother without his support. 

Her mother doesn't handle this well.  For years she has been a secret alcoholic.  For years she has managed a delicate balancing act that has fooled her husband and the members of the church, but the gig is up.  Sam and her father have checked her into rehab.  Though Sam has been covering for her at home and even out in the community, she misses her mother terribly.

Then a tragedy hits the community.  A thirteen year old is kidnapped in broad daylight.  The girl is a member of Sam's father's church so he is called to provide spiritual support for the family.  Since Sam's mother is currently unavailable, she finds herself either alone or pawned off on her best friend's family. 

All of this comes at a time in Sam's life when she is seriously questioning her faith.  How can God let these things happen?  How has He let her mother's life spiral out of control?  How can He let her father get so involved in everyone's life and so uninvolved in hers?  How can He let an innocent thirteen year old disappear on a bright sunny afternoon?

Author Sara Zarr explores the idea of losing faith in ONCE WAS LOST.  "Lost" has many meanings in this novel from the literal to the spiritual.  Most of her characters are fighting a battle to find their way along some personal journey.  Life is a confusing enough, but when events and relationships leave Sam and others with questions about a greater purpose, they struggle to cling to the idea of miracles or whatever helps them make sense of their world.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

ALABAMA MOON by Watt Key



Here's one for all you survival fans who enjoy the "roughing it" stories of author's like Gary Paulsen and Will Hobbs.  ALABAMA MOON has a living off the land plot combined with a whole lot more.

Ten year old Moon Blake has lived in the forest with his father since he was just a baby.  He has grown up hearing Pap explain the reason they live their isolated existence is because they can live without the interference of the government.  Not knowing exactly what that means doesn't really bother Moon.  All he knows is his life is full of activity and adventure.  They hunt and fish and raise vegetables that they sell on their rare trips to a nearby country store.  Moon can read and write, and he's learned tons about animals and the outdoors from an impressive library Pap has stored away in their underground home.

Everything begins to change when a rich lawyer buys up the land Moon and Pap live on.  Surveyors show up and soon a huge lodge is under construction too close for comfort.  Pap's plan has always been to move to Alaska where he says there are lots of government haters, but an unfortunate fall leaves Pap with a badly broken leg.  Even though Moon tries his best to care for Pap's injury, the leg becomes infected and there is nothing Moon can do.  He buries his father next to the grave they dug for his mother years ago.

Moon's life changes even further when he is picked up by the local constable.  He is delivered to a boys' home where he gets his first taste of the real world.  Being cooped up in buildings and tied down by rules makes Moon restless and homesick.  It isn't long before he has a plan to escape.  He and two other boys successfully make their way into the forest where Moon's survival skills are put to the test.  Can he return to the life he loves or will he find that companionship and some of the comforts of society are too important to ignore?

Author Watt Key takes readers on an incredible journey with Moon and his friends.  The wild boy will have readers rooting for him as he battles the law, his memories, and nature.  ALABAMA MOON is a great book for guys, especially reluctant readers.

Watch: “It’s Kind Of A Funny Story” Trailer - Entertainment News - Pedestrian TV

Can't wait for this movie based on Ned Vizzini's book IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY.  It's out in select theaters September 24.

Take a look at the trailer.

Watch: “It’s Kind Of A Funny Story” Trailer - Entertainment News - Pedestrian TV

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

THE SECOND TRIAL by Rosemarie Boll



Danny McMillan loves his dad so coming to terms with the fact that the man is on trial for physically and emotionally abusing Danny's mom is taking its toll.  Danny's mom thinks it is important for Danny to attend the sentencing hearing in hopes that he can come to terms with the reality of this horrible situation. 

As Danny sits in court and listens to details of his life he never knew existed, anger and fear begin to build.  Although, he loves his mother, he still can't believe that the father who spent time with him and taught him everything he knows is capable of the abuse being described in the courtroom.  When the final sentence calls for his father to be held just a short time in prison instead of the seven years requested by the prosecuting attorney, Danny sees it as a second chance for his family.  That means there is hope that his father can return home, his mother can forgive and forget, and they can pick up with life as it was before all this drama.

The hopes that Danny has are destroyed soon after the trial when several strangers begin meeting with his mother.  He quickly learns that these people believe the only way his mother will be safe from his abusive father is for them to leave everything and everyone behind to start a new life.  He has never heard of the NIVA (New Identities for Victims of Abuse), but it now takes over his life.  He and his mother and younger sister will be given new names and identities, and they will be forced to relocate and begin a new life.  The whole idea fills Danny with rage.  How can they say his father will never change?  Now it will be up to Danny to find a way to reunite the family or come to terms with his new reality.

THE SECOND TRIAL is the story of a family torn apart by one abusive individual.  Author Rosemarie Boll deftly describes the years of abuse Danny's mother suffered in silence.  Her prose begins to explain the mystery of why abused women continue to live in physical and emotional turmoil instead of packing up and leaving it behind.  Boll uses her own professional knowledge of similar circumstances to illustrate the fear, the anger, and the eventual acceptance of how life is changed for families like Danny's.  Readers should appreciate the honest, straight-forward approach in which this novel is presented.

Monday, July 12, 2010

FIRST MEETING OF THE STAIR TEEN BOOK CLUB



The Stair Public Library now has a TEEN BOOK CLUB. We had our first official meeting today at 2:22 pm. (Why the weird time, you ask? No reason.)
There was a nice discussion about the books people had recently read, and plans were made to keep meeting on Mondays at 2:22.
Here is a list of books the members recommend.
VAMPIRE ACADEMY series by Richelle Mead
CITY OF BONES series by Cassandra Clare
WISH YOU WERE DEAD and IF I GROW UP by Todd Strasser
JANE IN BLOOM by Deborah Lytton
THE BRONZE HORSEMAN by Paullina Simons
ROMIETTE AND JULIO by Sharon M. Draper
BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARE series by Laurie Faria Stolarz
CATCHING FIRE by Suzanne Collins
All books written by John Green.
All books written by Nicholas Sparks.
All books written by Mitch Albom.
Stay tuned for more about our meetings and more book suggestions.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

ANNOUNCING THE WINNER OF LIFE AS WE KNEW IT...



Drum roll...................  the winner is Devyn Burton famous blogger at The Faerie Drink Review.

Hope you enjoy the first book in this interesting yet scary trilogy, Devyn.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

AND THEN EVERYTHING UNRAVELED by Jennifer Sturman



Delia's (Cordelia's) life is unraveling.  She has just been given the news that the research ship her mother is traveling on has disappeared.  Since her mother was her only remaining parent, Delia is told she will be leaving California and moving to New York City to live with an aunt she has never met.

The arrangements were made and recorded in her mother's will.  Actually, both her mother's sisters are to have a part in Delia's care should it be necessary.  One is to be her legal guardian and caregiver while the other will oversee her finances and her education.  The frightening thing is the last lines in her mother's will read, "To be clear, I make these arrangements only as a last resort.  For Cordelia's sake, I hope they never become necessary."  Yikes!

Delia's head is spinning as she is told to pack for the move.  She will be living with her Aunt Charley.  Plans have already been made for her to attend the same prestigious private school attended by her mother and her mother's two sisters.  Once in New York, Delia finds Charley sort of crazy and carefree; just the opposite of her other aunt, Patience, whose idea of fun is a formal, business lunch complete with mounds of financial documents and legalese discussions.

Although she appreciates the efforts of her aunts, Delia doesn't want to get too comfortable in her new surroundings because she is convinced that her mother is still alive, and she is determined to prove it.  With the help of a new friend named Natalie, a private investigator, and much to her surprise, a wacky psychic, Delia sets out to solve the mystery and reunite with her mother.

Author Jennifer Sturman takes the "unraveling" threads of Delia's life and weaves an attention grabbing mystery.  Complete with shady corporations, possible illegal environmental issues, and a near miss from a speeding SUV, this book makes an intriguing summer read.  Readers will be kept on the edge of their seats by the "To be continued..." ending, but don't despair, the sequel is already out and it's called AND THEN I FOUND OUT THE TRUTH.  If that doesn't make you want to read on, I don't know what will.

Friday, July 9, 2010

AFTER THE FIRE by Becky Citra



When Melissa's mother tells her they will be moving, it doesn't come as a big surprise.  They've never stayed anywhere very long so she figured it was just a matter of time.  The surprise is that they are moving to a larger apartment, but first they will be vacationing at a cabin on a lake.

It all sounds exciting, but Melissa had her heart set on going to a summer art camp she heard about at school.  What will it be like at some lonely cabin with just her mother and her little brother Cody.  Melissa isn't used to her mother doing anything with Cody and her.  For years all Melissa can remember is her mother's drinking and a string of her unpleasant boyfriends.  Her mother has been promising that life was going to be different, but nothing seems to change.

Memories of a terrible fire in their house trailer still give Melissa nightmares.  It's true that since then her mother has stopped drinking, has a good job, and doesn't have a boyfriend.  Maybe there is hope for a better life.

When they arrive at the lake cabin, any worry about loneliness disappears when Melissa meets Alice.  Alice's invitation to her secret tree house on an island in the middle of the lake gives Melissa plenty of activity every afternoon.  She learns about Alice's family, her interest in fantasy and writing, and also how she seems a bit strange and mysterious at times.  Some of their experiences together are a little unsettling for Melissa, but her desire for friendship causes her to dismiss the concerns as minor issues.  After all she should know, no one's life is perfect

AFTER THE FIRE is a story of healing and change.  Author Becky Citra shares the story of two girls whose lives have been complicated by tragedy.  Each has learned to cope in her own individual way, and both must now learn to trust that things can change as life goes on.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

LITTLE BLOG ON THE PRAIRIE by Cathleen Davitt Bell



Family vacations should be fun.  They should include things like amusement parks, loaded cruise ships, motel swimming pools and room service, and maybe an odd national park or two.  Vacations should most definitely not include weeding a cornfield, a constant diet of cold grits and beans, doing the laundry by hand, and sleeping with your little brother.  Gen Welsh has some opinions about family vacations, and the one her family takes is certainly not what she expected.

Gen is looking forward to a summer of soccer camps and time with her friends by the rec center pool.  When her mother announces that the family will be going to Camp Frontier for six weeks and living like it is the 1890's, Gen is sure she must be joking.  It is not until they actually arrive at the reenactment vacation site, and she has handed over her iPod and traded in her clothes for stockings, a petticoat, and a bonnet that reality hits.  They will be joining three other families to eat, sleep, and live in another century.

Crammed into a stuffy cabin no bigger than their garage, Gen finds herself sleeping with her little brother in the same crowded loft as her mom and dad.  Every modern convenience she can imagine is suddenly missing from her life.  They will be cooking on a wood stove if her mother can figure out how to light it.  They will do their laundry by hand, milk a cow twice a day, care for four acres of corn, and use an incredibly unpleasant outhouse.

The only thing that makes life bearable is the new cell phone Gen is able to sneak in.  She uses it to quietly text her friends back home to vent about the horrible conditions and the odd characters sharing her vacation.  When one friend begins using Gen's text messages as the feature for a blog project in her summer school computer class, Gen's story becomes part of something she never could have imagined.

Author Cathleen Davitt Bell takes readers on the vacation from hell.  Her descriptions of living life as it was back in 1890 are enough to make any modern-day, tech savvy teen cringe.  It might be interesting to visit a museum with an old time village or farm setting, but to actually live it for almost two months would strike horror in most.  Bell includes a nice mix of humor, mystery, frustration, and danger to create a captivating read.

Monday, July 5, 2010

THE CARDTURNER by Louis Sachar



"Talk About Wow" is the title of one of the chapters in THE CARDTURNER by Louis Sachar.  It is also the perfect way to describe this book.  I was hooked on the very first page and read the thing in a single day.  My recommendation is - Don't Miss It!

With that said, many readers could be scared away by THE CARDTURNER.  The story revolves around the card game of bridge.  The book is filled with in-depth information and detailed descriptions of the game.  But don't let that frighten you off.  There is soooo much more to enjoy.

Alton Richards isn't really looking forward to the summer between his junior and senior year.  He knows he should look for a job but can't seem to get motivated.  There won't be any swimming in the backyard pool because it's still just a hole in the ground awaiting the final outcome of some lawsuit between his parents and the pool company.  Alton's dad has also just broken the news that the insulation company he works for is downsizing which means he's out of a job.  And don't forget, Alton's girlfriend just dumped him.  Great way to kick off summer vacation.

Just when Alton thinks things can't get anymore dismal, he learns that his "favorite" uncle, Lester Trapp has requested his presence.  Alton has been to his uncle's hilltop home only once before.  It was the elderly Trapp's birthday, and Alton was just five years old at the time.  Since Alton knows his parents are hoping for a huge inheritance when the old guy's time comes, he knows he must answer the call and find out what the old man wants.

A cardturner?  What is that?  Lester Trapp, who is now blind due to complications from diabetes, wants Alton to help him play bridge.  Trapp wants his young nephew to accompany him to his bridge club to read off the cards in his hand and play for him during the games.  Alton knows nothing about bridge, but he is about to learn.  He is also about to learn some of his family's darkest secrets.

Using first person narrative, author Louis Sachar takes readers into the world of bridge.  Alton is an incredibly likeable main character with a wonderful sense of humor even when thrown into the most challenging circumstances.  As he explains his eccentric uncle and other crazy members of the cast, he also teaches the basics of bridge.  Scattered through the story are informational sections about the game.  I agree with a previous review of THE CARDTURNER posted at Guys Lit Wire that these sections can be skipped if readers desire, but I found even though I was confused, I wanted to read them to gain knowledge of this mysterious game.

I'm not going to run out and start playing bridge, but thanks to Sachar, I can now appreciate the dedication and seriousness true players have for the game.  Whatever you might feel about the game of bridge, THE CARDTURNER is a heartwarming and attention-grabbing novel.  Even though this is billed as YA fiction, I'm passing it on to a bridge-playing friend of my mother's, and I know she's going to love it.

MED HEAD as told by James Patterson and Hal Friedman



MED HEAD is the amazing true story of Cory Friedman and his battle with Tourette's Syndrome and OCD.  Covering a span of time beginning at age five through age seventeen, this book tells the story of Cory and his family as they battled two often misunderstood conditions.

At the age of five, Cory began to exhibit uncontrollable body movements which were followed by verbal outbursts.  The first diagnosis was ADHD, and the resulting medication only made Cory's symptoms worse.

Doctors finally decided he suffered from Tourette's and began prescribing different medicines.  What followed was years of doctors' visits and more drugs than most people even hear about in a lifetime.  Cory's parents questioned the massive doses they were told to administer to their son, but each new suggestion promised a breakthrough in his treatment.  A later diagnosis of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) only made matters worse for Cory.

Cory was a bright, active child.  His interest in sports and computers helped him through some of the roughest periods of his young life.  In an interview at the end of the book, Cory says that when he was able to focus on activities like football, baseball, or computers, he was able to free his mind enough to slow down some of his symptoms.  However, these times of release represented only a fraction of Cory's life and struggle with his diseases.

With the support of his family and his own incredible determination, Cory overcomes the worst of his struggle and is able to show the world exactly what he can do.  His experiences will take readers into the depths of despair and show them the horrors of some of the most frequently prescribed drugs used today.  Author James Patterson and Cory's father, Hal Friedman, present the story as a first person narrative that Cory hopes will help others suffering with similar issues.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

BOARDER PATROL by Erin Thomas



Living with your cousin while you finish high school is not easy.  Usually Ryan and Kevin get along just fine, but things have been kind of rocky lately.  Ryan isn't sure why Kevin is suddenly looking the other way when he approaches, and when there is conversation required, Kevin barely utters a word.  The months until school is over are going to be very uncomfortable.  What Ryan doesn't realize is that it's going to more uncomfortable than he can imagine.

Weird things start happening the day his snowboard disappears.  Ryan works at the same ski resort as his cousin.  Ryan works ski patrol while Kevin operates a chair lift.  The two rarely have contact.  One afternoon Ryan leaves his board outside the patrol hut for just a minute, and when he comes out it's gone.  Normally this would be a slight inconvenience, but today it could spell disaster. 

Ryan's one goal in life is to become a professional snowboarder.  Today he is scheduled to try out for a possible snowboarding video.  A well-known producer has invited Ryan and his friend Jamie to show him their stuff, but how's he going to do that without his board.  After a quick search doesn't reveal his missing board, Ryan is shocked when his cousin offers the use of his new board. 

The try out doesn't go as planned, probably because he is using an unfamiliar board.  Shortly after it's over Kevin shows up with Ryan's missing board claiming he simply knew the right people to ask.  This is the beginning of a series of strange and even dangerous events that have Ryan wondering just what the heck is going on. 

BOARDER PATROL is a fast-paced read filled with not only snowboarding action, but also skiing accidents and rescues, competitions, and even duffle bags filled with pot.  Erin Thomas's book should appeal to adventure fans, thrill seekers, and mystery fans. 

Friday, July 2, 2010

LIFE, AFTER by Sarah Darer Littman



LIFE, AFTER by Sarah Darer Littman truly echoes the world today.  Dani is a survivor in more ways than one.  She has known the loss of losing a loved one in a terrorist attack.  She has experienced the economic collapse of her country and felt its effect on her own family.  She knows what it's like to be a stranger in a new place.  It seems that each of us today has personal knowledge of at least one of these life-changing events.

Dani was born and raised in Argentina.  Her life began to change in 1994 when her aunt and unborn cousin were killed in a terrorist attack on a Jewish organization in Buenos Aires.  Since then the economy of Argentina has hit an all-time low.  Now her father's clothing store has folded (no pun intended) leaving him depressed and unable to work.  Dani tries to take care of the cooking, cleaning, and looking after her little sister while her mother works to keep food on the table.  Life is full of stress.

As many of Dani's friends leave the country in search of more opportunity, she begins to wonder if they might move as well.  Her mother pleads daily with Dani's father to accept an offer of help from a relative living in New York.  After another frightening display of political unrest, he is finally convinced, and the family heads to America.

The move may offer more security for her family, but for Dani, the tiny, cramped apartment, a strange new language, and the huge high school she is forced to attend are almost more than she can handle.  Making friends is not as easy as she had hoped so school fills her with anxiety; plus when she returns home each day she to face an increasingly depressed and angry father.  Wanting to make life easier for her hard-working mother is the only thing that keeps Dani from exploding with frustration.

Finally an unpleasant encounter with a school bully allows Dani to discover that there are others who suffer silently.  Dani's view of her own circumstances changes when she learns that a fellow classmate lost her father in the 9/11 tragedy.  Together they discover when one has enough love and support; life can once again be filled with joy.

Author Sarah Darer Littman tells Dani's story in an honest, straight-forward voice.  I felt emotionally connected to the family as they struggled to make their way through tough times.  Littman is able to communicate the love and concern Dani has for her mother and younger sister as well as the uncomfortable love/hate relationship she has with her suffering father.  As I turned the pages, I found myself wanting to offer advice and encouragement as Dani searched for ways to understand all the changes surrounding her.  Teens will definitely be able to relate to both the story and the characters of LIFE, AFTER.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES by Kristina McBride



Tessa and Noelle had been best friends for as long as either could remember.  They were ripped apart two years ago when Noelle disappeared.  All that was left was her bike abandoned on the sidewalk.  For two years Tessa spent every waking moment thinking about Noelle and missing her.  She carried on but refused to enjoy life without her best friend.

Suddenly life has changed.  Noelle has returned.  Against the predicted odds from law enforcement officials and other similar cases, she escaped her captor.  Tessa can hardly believe it's true.  It's like she can finally live again, too.

Dreams of a joyous reunion and catching up on all they've missed together over two years are all Tessa can think about.  Instead, she discovers her friend is refusing to see her.  Understandable in the beginning, but as the weeks go by, Tessa can't comprehend why Noelle stays hidden away. 

When she finally gains access, she is puzzled by Noelle's reaction.  One of the first things the kidnap victim insists is that she wants to be known as Elle not Noelle, and that's not all that's changed.  Tessa finds out Elle has not been hiding from everyone, but rather sneaking out at night on risky adventures, and the more Tessa observes, the more concerned she becomes.

Loyalty to Elle is complicated by the fact that Tessa has met Max.  At first he was just the new guy and her partner in photography class, but he's different and beginning to fill a special place in Tessa's life.  Elle seems happy for her, but Tessa is torn between enjoying her new relationship and being there for the still emotionally fragile Elle.

Described as "a haunting psychological thriller" THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES is one you will want to get your hands on this summer.  Author Kristina McBride delves into the minds of her characters to illustrate that trauma takes its toll on victims and survivors alike.  Elle may have been the victim of a horrendous kidnapping, but those left behind before her return lived with their own trauma as well.  Even a so-called "happy ending" has its complications, too.  Readers will remember this one long after they turn the final page.