Thursday, May 31, 2012

THE GIRL IN THE PARK by Mariah Fredericks

Rain and Wendy had always been close, but times have changed.  Born with a cleft palette, Rain's childhood was filled with speech problems and speech therapists resulting in chronic shyness and a tendency to say very little.  Wendy, on the other hand, was confident and outgoing.

As the two girls start high school, Wendy heads in a new direction.  She becomes involved with boys, especially bad boys and boys who already have girlfriends.  Shy Rain distances herself from Wendy, although she misses their previously close friendship.

On the night of a big party, Wendy's mother calls Rain in search of her daughter.  Rain remembers seeing Wendy leave the party, followed by a guy named Nico, but she is hesitant to give all the details to Wendy's concerned mother.  When Wendy's body is discovered in the park, Rain realizes that she will need to speak up for the first time in her life.

THE GIRL IN THE PARK by Mariah Fredericks is perfect for mystery lovers.  Readers will journey along with Rain as she tries to follow the clues and gain the confidence to share her ideas with the authorities.  Not everything is as it appears which will keep readers guessing until the end.

Monday, May 28, 2012

CHOMP by Carl Hiaasen

CHOMP is another great middle grade adventure by author Carl Hiaasen.

Wahoo Cray's life is filled with exotic wild animals.  His father is a professional animal handler who specializes in giant snakes, alligators, snapping turtles, monkeys, and more.  They are about to get involved with a well-known reality TV star, but as usual, things that involve Wahoo's father don't always go smoothly.

CHOMP is filled with gator attacks, snake bites, chomping snapping turtles, and one freaked out bat.  This one is great for reluctant readers and should be easy to sell as a fast-paced summer read.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

THE RIGHT AND THE REAL by Joelle Anthony

The Right and The Real is a church with over 1,000 followers.  Jamie's father, on a search for meaning in his life, becomes involved in the religious group.  Jamie finds something other than spiritual meaning; she finds Josh.  It's hard to believe such a hot guy would find her interesting, but he seems to be head-over-heels in love with her.

Jamie's early life was one train wreck after another because in her father's attempt to "rescue" her mother from a life of substance abuse, their family almost fell apart.  Since her mother left to live in California, Jamie and her father have been able to put together a solid life.  Jamie's grandfather's trust fund has also provided stability and the possibility of the future in acting that Jamie dreams about every day.

When her father meets Mira at church, she is happy for him.  It's his first relationship with a woman since her mother left, but it doesn't take long for things to get weird.  When the two decide to get married, Jamie learns that she will be expected to sign a pledge with the church.  Though she believes she is in love with Josh and she is happy for her father, she isn't ready to commit herself to the strict rules of The Right and The Real, especially when she is told she will have to quit school and live in the church compound.  There is no way she is giving up her dream of acting school in New York City.

Despite Jamie's reservations, her father marries Mira and Jamie's life falls apart.  She comes home from school to find all her possessions packed in boxes on the front porch.  She's been kicked out of the only home she's ever known and forced to survive on her own.  Her friends would surely help, but Jamie can't bring herself to tell them the truth.  Jamie is determined to handle her own problems until things spiral completely out of her control.

Author Joelle Anthony takes readers on a roller coaster of emotions as Jamie attempts to keep her life together and still achieve her goals.  THE RIGHT AND THE REAL is filled with pain and vulnerability, and at the same time, heartfelt determination.  Jamie is faced with one obstacle after another, but she holds on, exhibiting a faith no church can match.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

WONDER by R.J. Palacio

Auggie lives with his mother and father, his sister Via, and his dog Daisy.  He is about to start fifth grade.  It all seems normal, but that's only until you see Auggie.

Born with a severe facial deformity, Auggie has struggled through multiple surgeries and experienced humiliating stares from most people who see him.  His family loves him and tries to protect him from the rude remarks of ignorant people, while at the same time giving him a normal life.

Previously home schooled by his mother, Auggie has agreed to attend a small neighborhood public school.  The principal suggests an early visit and orientation tour so Auggie can meet several of his future classmates.  It will not be easy, but Auggie is determined to fit in and succeed in his new school.  With the love and support of his family, Auggie deals with teachers, homework, and bullies, all to prove he is just like everyone else. 

WONDER is the debut novel of author R.J. Palacio.  Her inspiring and sensitive story will touch the hearts of readers and have them looking forward to her next book.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

IN STITCHES: A MEMOIR by Anthony Youn, M.D.

Before reading IN STITCHES, I had the pleasure of attending an author event featuring Michigan author Dr. Anthony Youn.  His entertaining presentation highlighting his desire to create a book telling the really story of medical school made reading this book a must.  It also came highly recommended by one of my eighth grade students who read it after snagging it from her mother's pile of library books.

Dr. Youn begins his story with tales of his childhood in a small town in Michigan.  His family was the only Asian-American family in town.  He described himself as tall and skinny with thick glasses and an unusual condition that resulted in the uncontrolled growth of his chin.  Anthony's status as an excellent student made his physician father proud.  The expectation was that he too would become a doctor.

The majority of IN STITCHES focuses on Youn's four years in medical school at Michigan State University.  Youn describes sleepless nights, a disgusting basement apartment, and round-the-clock studying.  The goal was to earn top grades that would lead to top-notch residency offers.  Youn shares stories of treating his first patient, working with human cadavers, and dealing with shocking injuries and difficult doctors.  All the while he and his fellow medical students attempt to keep their sanity, manage relationships, and muddle along with little money and incredible stress.

Dr. Youn decided on a specialty in plastic surgery and now maintains a well-known practice in Michigan.  He makes regular appearances on the Rachel Ray Show, CNN, and The Early Show.  Using humor and gutsy detail, Dr. Youn is successful in sharing the medical school experience with lucky readers.