Flashback June 2009

A flashback to what I was reading in June 2009:

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell In Love by Lauren Tarshis. From my review: “Emma-Jean Lazarus, an astute observer of her fellow seventh graders at William Gladstone Middle School, watches as her friends fuzz over the upcoming dance and worry about what boy they’ll ask. She decides their behavior is a result of spring fever – and then realizes that she, too, has fallen prey to spring fever. . . . Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell in Love is equal parts mystery (which boy left a note in Colleen’s locker?) and middle school politics and friendship. Emma-Jean has a unique look at the world; from the first, I imagined her as mini Temperance Brennan from the TV show Bones. Smart, logical, observant, removed; and like Brennan, with loving friends and family. Emma-Jean on seventh grade boys: “She had been observing her fellow seventh graders for many years, trying to understand them better and she had long ago concluded that it was simply the boys’ nature to be rambunctious on occasion.”

Columbine by Dave Cullen. From my review: “On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, high school seniors, entered Columbine High School. They killed twelve students and one teacher, and then committed suicide. Dave Cullen has covered the story since day one. Columbine is about what happened on April 20th; what led up to it; and what followed. In particular, it firmly ends many of the myths surrounding Columbine. Interestingly, the truth has been out there; Cullen wrote The Depressive and the Psychopath, published in Slate, in April 2004. Yet ask most people, and they won’t say this was the case of a psychopath but rather the result of bullying and jocks and revenge and disappointments.

I And I Bob Marley by Tony Medina. From my review: “The life of Bob Marley, told in verse. . . . Do you have to “know” Bob Marley to appreciate this book? No. Someone familiar with his life and music will recognize phrases and the chronology; but those not as familiar will follow along, as Bob is a small child living on a farm, a boy abandoned by his father, a teenager raised in a slum, all along music shaping him and his life.

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. From my review: “Twenty-five year old Rebecca Bloomwood has a love affair with shopping. There’s nothing like the rush of finding — and buying — that perfect sweater. Pair of boots. Mascara. Coffee. Dress. Notecards. But for some reason the credit cards won’t leave her alone; they actually want to get paid. And, funny enough, Becky’s job? A journalist. For a finance magazine. .  . .  I’ll be honest: while I’m not the shopaholic Becky is, I totally understand the “high” she gets, the way she imagines herself better, smarter, more liked with that new dress, makeup, sweater, scarf. Actually, upon finishing this book I really, really wanted to buy a new gray cardigan for the summer. Part of the attraction (for me) is to be able to think “well at least I’m not as bad as Becky is!” So far, I’m resisting the temptation to get that cardigan. (But I do have a 15% off coupon for the store it’s at, so it would be like saving money, right?)

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. From my review: “Lia’s best friend, Cassie, is dead. Before she died, Cassie called Lia thirty-three times. Lia didn’t answer; the two had stopped talking, stopped being friends. But they had never stopped being partners — partners in the race to see who could be skinniest. Anderson captures the tortured thoughts and worldview of Lia, who, to put it mildly, has serious problems. She starves herself; cuts herself; berates herself (stupid/ ugly/ stupid/ bitch/ stupid/ fat/ stupid/ baby/ stupid/ liar/ stupid/ lost); sees herself as fat; and sees ghosts. Sees Cassie. Everywhere. Haunting her; taunting her; encouraging her. In audio, especially, Cassie’s words twist into your heart and your head.”

My Japan by Etsuko Watanabe. From my review: “Yumi presents her life in a matter of fact way, full of the details that readers love. Even the back cover gives information (Japan has over 3,000 islands). Yumi’s Japan is modern; when she shares the meals she eats, there is sushi, ramen, tonkatsu…and hamburger. And spaghetti. It is also traditional; during summer vacation at her grandparents, she wears a yukata.”

The Tushy Book by Fran Manushkin. From my review: “Oh, let’s be real. There is no plot! It’s just a love-fest to the tushy!”

The Treasure Map of Boys by e. lockhart. From my review: “It’s the second half of Ruby Oliver’s junior year. Things seem better. She now has two friends (two!), Nora and Meghan. And Noel likes her, but because Nora likes Noel, Ruby has promised herself to stay away from Noel (even tho Ruby likes him, also.) And Jackson is back in the picture! And maybe Finn. And Hutch is still there, working for her father. Kim and Cricket still don’t talk to her. Things should be better. But Ruby is lonely; it’s been over thirty weeks of no boyfriend! And she’s still getting panic attacks. And the rumors may be starting again.”

Norman and Brenda by Colin Thomspon & Amy Lissiat. From my review: “Norman and Brenda live their own lives, waiting for life to begin, waiting for that someone. Will their paths ever cross?

My Parents Are Divorced, My Elbows Have Nicknames by Bill Cochran, illustrated by Steve Bjorkman. From my review: “Ted is made up of many things. His parents are divorced (but that doesn’t make him weird.) He sleeps with one sock on (so maybe that’s a little weird.) Sometimes when he answers the phone pretending he’s a chicken (OK, so that IS weird.) Ted is Ted; he is who he is.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. From my review: “For the potential reader? Read The Hunger Games, knowing you only have to wait a few short months to read the sequel, Catching Fire. It’s a wonderful experience for a reader: great plotting, memorable plotting, a unique world. And in all honesty, once you’ve read the first, you don’t need to read a review or recommendation to read the second.”

Hate List by Jennifer Brown. From my review: “Valerie Leftman was shot during a school shooting moments before the shooter turned the gun on himself. She may have tried to stop him; instead of a half dozen dead, their could have been more. Or, since she was his girlfriend and had helped write the “Hate List” he used to target his victims, she may not be so innocent.”

Crash Into Me by Albert Borris. From my review: “Four teens go on a road trip to visit celebrity graves, pledging to commit suicide together at the end. Their obsession with suicide and their own attempts brought them together; and the friendship they form may save them all. Chilling, sad, and funny.”

If The Witness Lied by Caroline B. Cooney. From my review: “First, their mother dies. Then, their father. The four Fountain children are left alone, except for their Aunt Cheryl. Overwhelmed by grief — by how and why their parents died — the family cannot hold itself together. Their mother was diagnosed with cancer while pregnant with Tris, now almost three. She choose to have her child rather than have an abortion and aggressively treat the cancer; the press had a field day, as did protesters who called her choice suicide and criticized her abandoning the children she did have. Toddler Tris then kills his father. The little boy releases the emergency break on his father’s jeep; and the jeep runs over and kills his father. The press once again and return to the house. Maddy, the oldest and now a senior, fled to stay with family friends. Smithy found a boarding school and escaped that way. Jack, fifteen, was left behind to take care of Tris. To protect the child. But can he keep protecting Tris, when Cheryl decides to turn the little boy’s life into a TV reality show? The baby who killed his parents. What can Jack do?


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