Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Star-Crossed


Star-Crossed  by Barbara Dee

12-year-old Mattie is thrilled when her 8th grade class mounts a production of "Romeo and Juliet" but things get complicated when the handsome boy in the leading role ducks out of the play...leaving Mattie to play the part of Romeo, opposite the beautiful Gemma as Juliet. 

Gemma, whom Mattie...likes.  Like, a lot.

Mattie has a lot of questions about her crush on Gemma, and nobody around her gives her the answers.  

However, several people--including her best friends, her older sister, a sympathetic teacher, and even Gemma herself--allow Mattie the freedom to explore some answers for herself.  That is what makes this gentle little story so nice.

I learned about this book when the author wrote about a terrible experience booktalking in a school where she was asked to refer to the book only in general terms.  In other words: avoid talking about the book.  Even when asked direct questions about it.

As often happens, censoring a book sometimes inspires people to seek that book out.  

That's how it worked with me, anyhow.

Having read the book, I've got to say:  

It's a great book.  And I plan to talk about it.  A lot.  In schools.  To students.

With positive reviews from School Library Journal and Kirkus as well as the sexy librarians here at Sex in the Library, you know that although "Romeo and Juliet" was a tragedy, Star Crossed definitely isn't. 

Highly recommended for middle-grade readers, ages 10 and up.


Monday, March 6, 2017

The Smell of Other People's Houses



The Smell of Other People's Houses  by Bonnie Sue Hitchcock

Before Alaska became a state, Ruth has a loving family.  When her father is killed in an accident, she goes to live with her very harsh and disapproving grandmother.  This story brings in four teens as voices in various chapters who all make difficult choices.  

Harsh is the life that these teens live.  Courage is their choice, and they make it with intensity.  One of the teens in an Inupiat Indian living with an Athabascan family.  All of the stories wrap around and into each other as the characters interact.  This slight book describes a time and population rarely seen in teen literature.

And the smells!  Rich writing brings the odors and sounds into your senses.

Recommended 12 up

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Every Breath


Every Breath  by Ellie Marney  (Every #1)

Rachel Watts has recently moved with her family from their failed farm in the country to a crowded house in Melbourne.  She misses the farm and the quiet of the land.  But soon, she is drawn into friendship--and more--with genius-boy James Mycroft who lives down the street.  Together the teens research obscure crime-solving strategies and write essays for the "Diogenes" website.

Allusions to Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson abound, especially when the teens discover that their friend, known only as "Homeless Dave," may have been murdered...after he was dead.  And, as in the famous story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the key to the crime may lie with a dog that didn't bark.

Nice world-building, excellent characters, and great action sequences (especially in the second half of the book).  The romance between Mycroft and Watts bubbles quietly at first and is certain to boil over soon--the steamy kisses on the page are definitely only the beginning of the physical side to their relationship.  Australian slang may boggle some readers.

An Australian "Hills Hoist" sounds more ominous than it actually is.

This is a great introduction to a fun new series.  I look forward to volume 2!




Monday, January 9, 2017

Dumplin'



Dumplin'  by Julie Murphy

Willowdean Dickson isn't what most people would call "beauty pageant material."  Certainly Willowdean herself never considered entering her hometown's biggest social event of the year, even though her own mother is a former Clover City Miss Teen Blue Bonnet and is now the chair of the event.

Because Willowdean is fat.  

She knows it.  It's obvious.  She's tried dieting in the past, but is now mostly comfortable with her body...but not always.  And when the hot-hot-hottie guy at work kisses her, the discomfort level goes way up.

It's a long road between "no-way, no-how" and "go big or go home" and yet Willowdean and her friends take the journey towards the coveted rhinestone crown.  And although they face some cringeworthy moments, the girls encounter some triumphant times along the way.  

This is a book about body image, Dolly Parton, and friendship.  There's a romance (and a bit of a romantic triangle), but the focus of the story is on Willowdean's relationship with her longtime best friend Ellen and her new friends Amanda, Millie and Hannah.  

And, just so you know:  the story doesn't end the way you think it will.

Recommended for readers 14 to adult.  All sexual situations are off-stage but the kissing is front and center.