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Search tags: growing-up-issues
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review 2018-03-01 03:06
Brave - Svetlana Chmakova

 

Brave is the sequel to Awkwardan amazing graphic novel about navigating middle school life. Brave follows the same basic group of kids, with a different main character. In Brave, Jensen (the art club kid from Awkward who is obsessed with sunspots) learns about bullying. He doesn't think he is a victim at first, but he gradually begins to understand what being bullied really means. He compares his school day to a video game, a constant struggle to avoid the "bad guys" and traps; making it through the day is a struggle for "survival."

 

This book has a bit more mature content compared with Awkward. There is no sex or serious violence, but the bullies call Jensen "fatso" and "stupid" and Jensen uses the phrase "makes my life a living hell." Compared to the overall message in this book, these are tiny considerations. But, as a parent, you should know what you are getting into. Many of our 3rd graders read Awkward and their parents might not think they are ready for this one.

 

Overall, this is a great book that describes realities of middle school, bullying, feeling alone, making friends, and standing up for yourself. I highly recommend it to 4th grade and up. 

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review 2017-11-06 03:03
I'll Give You the Sun - review
I'll Give You the Sun - Jandy Nelson

 

Noah and Jude are twins, and both very artistically inclined. This book follows the twins through some difficult times. It jumps back and forth between years and alternates between Noah and Jude's viewpoints.

 

This book deals with a lot of issues that teens might face, including questioning their sexuality, sex, death, divorce, mental health, and more. I didn't love the book, maybe because I don't usually enjoy realistic fiction. I read it for my Young Adult Literature class, and I probably wouldn't have picked it myself. But I am trying to branch out a bit.

 

Anyway, the book is well written and I can see the appeal it has for young adults. They can easily identify with the characters even if their own situation is a bit different. What bothers me about some of these stories is the romantic relationships. Books like this promote unrealistic expectations about love and relationships. Most of us don't find our "soulmate" (if one even exists), and we don't often experience a love that was "meant to be." Sad I know, but it seems worse to make teens think that this is how love works. 

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review 2017-11-06 02:30
Wintergirls - review
Wintergirls - Laurie Halse Anderson

 

Wow. This book is relentless, intense, and depressing...

That being said, it also seems realistic. It chronicles Lia's descent into anorexia and self-harm. Her best friend was bulemic and has died at the beginning of the book. She tried to call Lia multiple times on the night she died, but Lia didn't answer. The guilt Lia feels contributes to her decline. She has been in and out of treatment and knows how to fool the system. Her mother, father, and stepfather don't know how to reach her or what to do to help her anymore. How do you help someone who is determined to hurt themselves?

 

This book is a difficult read and not for the faint of heart. I didn't enjoy it at all, but I did learn from it and I do see the value in it. Thus my 3 star review. Anderson describes what Lia looks like and what she does to her body in graphic detail. So, beware.

 

I think this could be a good book for teens or their parents to read. Teens may see themselves and see hope or realize what could happen to them. Adults can see the pressures that today's teens face on a daily basis. I think books about these issues are important when they show the whole situation in a realistic light. Anderson does an amazing job of getting inside Lia's head and showing us her thought process.

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review 2017-05-04 18:42
Art brings hope, even in war...
Amina: Through My Eyes - Lyn White,J.L. Powers

 

The debris was her canvas, the detritus of war her personal collection of art materials. And the itch in her fingertips drove her to keep creating, no matter how dangerous it was to do it.

- Chapter 1

 

She wanted both freedom and safety but she knew that was impossible.

- Chapter 1

 

Sometimes she forgot the fear, but when she remembered, it was worse than if she'd never forgotten. Because what kind of person could forget that you were living in the middle of a warzone?

- Chapter 8

 

Amina is 14-years old and she lives in Mogadishu. Her home has been damaged in the war. When her father is arrested and her brother is kidnapped by rebel forces, she is left to provide for her pregnant mother and ailing grandmother.

 

Amina is a brave girl who feels vulnerable and abandoned. She creates street art to help deal with her feelings and also to encourage people to feel hopeful. I liked Amina's character a lot. She tries her best to be strong, but she is also vulnerable. The story ends on a note of hope even though there is also sadness.

 

This book is part of the Through My Eyes series that chronicles the lives of children caught up in contemporary conflicts. The themes of courage, determination, and perseverance appear throughout the series. I think young people will enjoy this series and it could help promote empathy and cross-cultural understanding.

 

Amina isn't preachy, and it gave me an understanding of the conflict in Somalia that I never had before. 

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review 2017-04-09 03:52
One Crazy Summer - review
One Crazy Summer - Rita Williams-Garcia

Delphine is eleven, going on twelve and yet she is responsible for her two younger sisters. Their mother left when Fern, the youngest, was still a baby and they are being raised by their father and grandmother (Big Ma). One summer they fly to California to spend time with their mother. She is not what they expect, and she doesn't seem happy to see them. Their mother sends them to the community center to have breakfast and get them out of her house. There the sisters get to spend time with members of the Black Panthers who run the center and provide local children with breakfast and day camp.

 

I liked this story. It gave us a look inside the sixties and what life was like for young black girls. We see how hard it is for the girls not to know their mother and when they finally meet her, she is distant and unfriendly. Delphine is a strong girl who doesn't take crap from anyone. It is hard for her to just be eleven when she has so much responsibility. She stands up for herself and her sisters and by the end of the visit, they finally start to connect with their mother.

 

This is a great book and highly recommended for readers, especially girls. Fans of realistic fiction or historical fiction should enjoy this one.

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