Flashback: February 2011

A look back at what I reviewed in February 2011.

The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta. From my review: “The Piper’s Son left me breathless with heart pounding — it is a beautifully written love song about the flaws and strengths of family and the long journey of grief, about the love and laughter and disappointments that tie people together.

The Uninvited by Tim Wynne-Jones. From my review:It seemed like a good idea. Mimi Shapiro escapes New York City after an eventful freshman year that included an affair with an older professor who won’t stop calling. Mimi goes to the Canadian cottage of her father, artist Marc Soto, expecting solitude. Instead she finds musician Jackson “Jay” Page, 22, who has been using the cottage as a music studio. Jackson, rather than reacting like a squatter who has been caught, acts as if Mimi is the intruder. He suspects her of the odd things that have been going on: a dead bird and snake skin left at the cottage. What Mimi and Jay don’t know, as they eye each other with suspicion, is that someone is watching from the shadows.

Jazz In Love by Neesha Meminger. From my review: “Meet Jasbir “Jazz” Dhatt, high school junior. She’s book smart, part of the Future Stars and Leaders Program at her high school. She has two best friends, Cindy Reda-Rodriguez and Jeevan ”Jeeves” Sahota.Then there’s Tyler R., the cute new boy at school. A pretty good life. Except for that little arranged marriage thing. No, seriously. Jazz’s parents have decided that the way to ensure Jazz’s future happiness is to arrange a marriage. Really. All Jazz has to do is figure out how to be true to herself (which means hanging out with her friends and flirting with Tyler R.) while being the good daughter at home who plays along with her parents’ arranged marriage plans.

Night Road by Kristin Hannah. From my review: Lexi Baill is 14 when she goes to live with her great aunt Eva in Port George, Washington. An absent, drug addicted mother and foster homes have taught her to not rely on much or expect much, especially from a relative she didn’t know she had. It turns out that Eva has what Lexi needs most: love, support, family. It doesn’t matter, not to Lexi, that Eva has little money. Jude Farraday is the mother of fourteen year old twins, Mia and Zach. “She’d been criticized for holding the reins of parenthood too tightly, of controlling her children too completely, but she didn’t know how to let go.” For Jude, her investment in her children is proof of her love. It’s also the way to ensure that their lives are as perfect as she can make it. A stay at home mother, wife to a successful doctor, she has created the perfect home, perfect house, perfect life to ensure happiness and love for her children. The lives of Lexi Baill and the Farradays intertwine, ending in a tragedy that changes all of them and makes them question just what love, motherhood, and forgiveness mean.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King. From my review: Vera Dietz, 18, hates and loves Charlie Kahn, her dead ex-best friend. Hates, because he died. Because before he died, he stopped being her friend, started hanging out with people who hated her and tried to make her life miserable. Hated, because he abandoned her. Loved, because from the time she was little, he was her best friend. Loved, because she was always in love with him and was just waiting and hoping for it to be something more. Loved, because she knew his good and his bad. As for Charlie — his life and death haunts her. What happened in those twenty four hours before he died? Did he really burn down the pet store at the mall? All she has left of Charlie is his secrets. Should she tell?

Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan. From my review: “Illustrated short stories, set in the familiar world of the suburbs. Only, not so much. Each of these short stories takes place in the suburbs, but for each there is something just a little — off. Not quite typical. The suburbs, but looking at it sideways, out of the corner of your eye, thinking both “that is strange” and “no, it’s not” at the same time.

House of Dolls by Francesca Lia Block, illustrated by Barbara McClintock. From my review: “Dolls Wildflower, Rockstar, and Miss Selene live together in their house, which was first owned by Madison Blackberry’s grandmother. The three dolls are happy enough, with Wildflower’s boyfriend Guy and Rockstar’s B. Friend, and all three have wonderful dresses made by Madison’s grandmother. Then, one day, Madison becomes bored — bored and jealous of the attention the dolls get as “family heirlooms” with their fancy dresses. Madison’s grandmother has never made her a dress. The combination of boredom and jealousy is a dangerous thing. Especially when the person feeling those things is so many times larger than  you are.” Madison begins by taking away Guy and B. Friend. It doesn’t end there, and it turns out, it didn’t begin there, either. What can the dolls do?

The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt. From my review: “Three years ago, Levi Katznelson’s older brother Boaz surprised his family and friends by announcing that rather than going to college, he was joining the Marines. Boaz has returned from his tour of duty, back from the fighting, back from the war. But is he really back? Boaz spends all his time in his room, communicating more with people online than he does with his family or friends. Levi, seventeen, doesn’t know what to think or do especially because no one wants to say it out loud: that the Boaz who came back is not the same person who left. When Boaz announces his intention to go on a lengthy hiking trip, Levi, concerned about what Boaz isn’t saying, forces himself along on a trip that becomes one of discovery for both brothers.

Nothing by Janne Teller. From my review: “This is a bleak, dark book. It is not double rainbows and ponies. Personally, I was blown away by it and think it’s a great book and am pleased to see it get recognition. That said, many people will hate it — not because it’s a bad book but because it is not a happy, hopeful book. Bad things happen.I can easily see people confusing their distaste for where this book goes (and it goes there) with a judgment on the book itself. That would be a mistake.  Nothing is unsettling. It won’t be for every reader, true. But those readers who it is for? Will adore it; will love that there is something out there that is more than sparkle and false hope and romance. They will love a book that asks hard questions without easy answers, a book that will give them a safe place to grapple with tough questions. It is for teens who are already reading bleak, sad, haunting books, of course. You know you have them in your library. Let them know up front: this book will bother you. This book will make you mad. This book will make you think.


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