Friday, April 20, 2007

Title: The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs
Author: Jack Gantos
Pages: 185 p.
Publisher: FSG
ISBN: 0374336903

Disturbing. Freaky. Yet riveting. I know there's been a lot of mixed reviews of this book--some people love it, some people hate it. I suspect the people who hate it just can't get over the freakiness of it.

Ivy is 7 years old when she stumbles across the taxidermied-body of her neighbor's mother. Although she screams and is freaked out, she is also strangely fascinated by her neighbor's (71 year old twins Dolph and Ab) activities. She realizes that she too loves her mother as much as the twins' loved theirs and embarks on an apprenticeship with them learning all there is to know about taxidermy.

I finished Love Curse in a day. It's not a very long book and it's pretty hard to put down once you start reading. It's just so... odd. Much like the twins themselves. Half of the story takes place when Ivy is 7 and just learning the secrets of the twins and the other half happens when she is 16 and learns the secrets of her own history. The story is gripping and interesting and definitely leaves the reader with something to think about. Is it possible to love your mother *too* much?

Teens who like mind-blowing books and books that make one think "What the hell??" will be drawn to this one.

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New Moon--Stephenie Meyer

Title: New Moon
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Pages: 563 p.
Publisher: Little Brown & Co.
ISBN: 9780316160193

I was a little hesitant to read this because I had heard that it was not as good as Twilight and I loved Twilight... but I wasn't disappointed. Sure, it wasn't as good as Twilight, mostly because Edward's role in the book is largely reduced. But it was still good and the ending made it all worth it.

Those of you who have read Twilight will remember the star-crossed lovers, vampire Edward and human Bella. They overcome great odds and danger to be together. Unfortunately Edward and his vampire family cannot truly change their nature and it's a risk every time klutzy Bella spends time with them. She manages to slice her finger open at her birthday party and that starts a chain of events resulting in the Cullen family moving away to protect her. Of course being a typical teenage girl Bella doesn't see them leaving as a means to protect her, but rather as an indication that they never really loved her, and she feels especially rejected by Edward. After many months of numbness she discovers that she can hear his voice in her head if she does stupid reckless dangerous things. She starts on a path of danger, accompanied by her friend Jacob Black, who is harboring secrets of his own as well as a crush on her.

Most of the story centers on Bella and Jacob's deepening friendship while she struggles to remember Edward while not actively remembering him. Once Jacob starts behaving strangely it's easy to guess what his dark secret is and to predict an eventual confrontation between him and his natural enemy Edward. Jacob is not a replacement for Edward--for either the reader or for Bella. It's not until Edward re-enters Bella's life that the story really picks up.

There were quite a few typos in the book but most readers will probably skip right over them anxiously reading quickly to get back to Edward. The ending is as happy as it can be for these two perfectly (mis)matched lovers, leaving plenty of room for another sequel, hopefully after Bella graduates and Carlisle fulfills his promise. Fans of Twilight will eat this one up too.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

Story of a Girl--Sara Zarr

Title: Story of a Girl
Author: Sara Zarr
Pages: 192 p.
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co.
ISBN: 9780316014533

Deanna was only 13 when her father caught her in the backseat of a car with a 17 year old boy doing things that no father should ever have to see. Three years later they both still carry around the pain of that incident. Deanna's been wrongly labeled a slut at school and deals with daily torment by her gossip-mongering peers. Her father can barely look at her, let alone speak to her in anything other than commands or accusations. She dreams of the day when she has enough money to move out with her brother and his girlfriend and their new baby.

This could be called the Story of Many Girls. Aside from actually being caught in the act by your father, lots of young vulnerable girls have similar first time situations--ones filled with regret that they never truly get over. This novel is so realistic it's almost painful. Interspersed throughout the book is Deanna's own writing, her own Story of a Girl, a girl desperately trying to forget her past. It's not until she learns how to forgive can she truly forget--a lesson everyone in the family needs to learn.

This is definitely a girl book, but might appeal to thoughtful boys. Although sex makes up a large part of the storyline the act itself is never described. The story is more about the emotional aftermath--Deanna's shameful regret, her brother Darren's unplanned pregnancy, her parents dysfunctional reaction to both. I would steer this book towards high schoolers, not because of the sex but because they may have more of an understanding of mistakes and regret. I finished this in just a couple of days because I couldn't put it down.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Life As We Knew It--Susan Beth Pfeffer

Title: Life As We Knew It
Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer
Pages: 337 p.
Publisher: Harcourt Inc.
ISBN: 0152058265

This was probably not the best time for me to read this book, but I knew there was a request list for it and I felt guilty so I got it done.

Miranda and her family are happily anticipating an meteor hitting the moon. The worst it can do is make another crater right? They have cookies and go outside to watch the show with the rest of their neighbors. But something goes horribly wrong...

The meteor. Suddenly the moon was closer to Earth than it should have been. It's easy to forget how important the moon is--but with it being out of whack the tides were also out of whack, causing huge tsunamis, tornadoes, volcanoes, earthquakes and all sorts of natural disasters. Floods wiped out whole states and countries, killed millions of people and left others with no food, oil, or electricity.

Miranda is one of the lucky ones since her mom freaked out at the beginning and used all her money to stock the house with boxed and canned food. But their food and their luck can't last forever.

Written in journal format, Miranda's story is gripping and heart-breaking. She is a likeable sympathetic character who sacrifices everything to help her family. There was one point that kept bugging me--they had food but no electricity so how were they cooking? It was finally explained that the stove was natural gas and didn't rely on electricity so they were fine cooking. Until the gas ran out. Although it was eventually explained this bugged me because I automatically think of not being able to cook when the electricity is off. Other than that very very minor point, this is a good solid read and highly recommended.

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