Invasion by Walter Dean Myers

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Genre: Historical fiction

Invasion is the story of Josiah Wedgewood, a young southern man who participates in the Allied D-Day invasion of France on Omaha Beach as a member of the 29th infantry. The story begins before the invasion and continues as Josiah and his fellow soldiers push through the French countryside toward St. Lo. Continue reading »

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Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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Genre: Realistic Fiction

A 2013 Americas Book Award Commended Title

A 2013 ALA Notable Book for Children

I’m going to divide my review into two sections – one without spoilers, one with – because I can’t really say what I want to say without giving the end away.

No spoilers:

This book has been winning awards left and right and the author just won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, which is pretty prestigious. I know  it’s getting a lot of attention because it’s a young adult book about homosexuality – the only YA novel I know of that has this as a main plot point, although there are others? probably? just not as prominent? – but that kind of cheapens it. That’s the great part about it – it’s a book about discovering/coming to terms with being gay (yourself or a loved one) but it’s a complete story that’s about a lot of other things too. That’s just one of its topics, just like in life. Gay people are not one dimensional, and neither are these characters or this story. (I apologize if my language in this review is imprecise. I know some people say being gay is something they always know, while others have to discover it as they mature.) Continue reading »

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Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

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Genre: Realistic/historical fiction

A 2012 Michael Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature Honor Book

Jasper Jones was one of those books I wanted to start recommending before I had finished reading. This is what young adult fiction should be.

Jasper Jones is the store of Charlie, a teenage boy growing up in a small Australian mining town in the 1960s (of particular interest to me as my sister currently lives in a small, rural Australian mining town). When the town delinquent, Jasper Jones, shows up at his window one night, Charlie makes the pivotal choice to follow him, and as a result becomes caught up in…well, a lot. A town scandal/mystery. A personal and moral crisis. A search for justice on many levels. The solution to the book’s mystery won’t leave anyone reeling, but by the end, everything has come together so gracefully it feels satisfactory. The writing is beautiful, descriptive and readable. Continue reading »

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My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

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Genre: Graphic novel/biography/true crime/fictionalization

Winner 2013 Alex Award, the ALA’s award for “books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults.”

My Friend Dahmer is a graphic novel covering the adolescence of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.  The story is written by a high school friend of Dahmer and is based on personal recollections from the author and other of Dahmer’s peers, as well as other source material such as news articles and FBI interviews of Dahmer. Continue reading »

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Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman

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image_51 Genre: Realistic Fiction

Winner 2013 Alex Award, the ALA’s award for “books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults.”

I started by review here by saying Girlchild was “well written but kind of just not my cup of tea.”  I think part of the problem was that I couldn’t really find anything in it to which I could relate. In addition, the writing had a beautiful quality to it but took a bit of patience. I described it to a friend recently as “one of those books that seems like it’s written entirely in metaphors.” There was one chapter that confused me totally and I’m still not sure what happened in it. I think there’s a good deal of merit in it, in the writing as well as the subject, I just didn’t find it compelling. Continue reading »

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