Tuesday, December 27, 2011


by Jennifer Donnelly

Andi has nowhere to go.  Trapped by the grief after the death of her younger brother, guilty that she might have been able to stop it, abandoned by a father who moved out and a mother whose grief has rendered her completely dependent on Andi, she has nowhere left to turn.  There is only one thing that comforts her, her music, but even that has not been enough.  When she finds herself stuck in Paris for two weeks with her father, she turns even more to her music.  When she finds a 18th century guitar in the house they are staying in, she finds comfort in it's strings.  But it is the diary she finds hidden inside it, written by a 17 year old girl during the French Revolution, which helps her find the peace she needs.

Revolution weaves French history with modern life in an interesting fashion.  The book deftly showcases life during the revolution, a time of horror for those who lived it, and relates it to the struggles that Andi is having in her life, as well as putting things in perspective for her.  The book is pretty accurate in it's history, though it does take liberties to incorporate Alexandrine's acts.  The book is also interesting in how it relates the struggles both girls have, both struggling with loss and feeling abandoned and alone.  In the end it is Alexandrine who gives Andi the strength to move forward with life.

Genre: Historical Fiction/Contemporary Fiction
Age Level: 8-9th Grade


By Cat Patrick

Sometimes we all wish we could forget things from our past.  That we could wake up and start completely fresh.  Wouldn't it be easier?  For London Lane it means waking up not remembering anything from the past.  Not what clothes she wore the day before, not what happened in school, not what happened when she was little.  All she has is the notebook she writes in every night, full of reminders about what happened each day.  But what has she been leaving out of the notebook? What happened in her past that triggered this reset? 

Forgotten is an interesting book about how a trauma can cause a person to reset themselves.  After London's brother was abducted from in front of her when she was a young girl, her mind closed itself off in order to protect her from the memory.  While she functions normally through each day, her memories of each day don't last longer than the day itself, though she is able to see memories from the future in their place.  The book is an interesting story about how keeping things from someone, even if you are trying to protect them, can have disastrous consequences. 

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age Level: 7-8th Grade

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Putting Makeup on Dead People

by Jen Violi

Donna really didn't know what she wanted to do after high school.  Sure there was the possibility of college, but that just didn't appeal to her the way it should.  But then she attended the funeral of a girl she goes to high school with.  And suddenly she realizes that her career choice is right in front of her: mortician school.  Definitely not a typical choice, but after dealing with the loss of her own father, she knows that she has the ability to comfort the grieving, to help provide closure to those who have lost.  She just needs to convince her mother that it's the right choice.

Violi has created an interesting character in Donna.  She is both incredibly mature for her age, having dealt with a severe loss in her life, but also very immature, being unable to cope with her mother dating 4 years after losing her father, and not able to talk about her life choices without being very defensive.  Overall though the book deftly deals with the many ways people cope with loss and the way one girl decides to help them.  Good for teens mainly, not a very thorough book about loss in general though. 

Genre: Realistic fiction
Age Level: 9th Grade

13 Reason's Why

By Jay Asher

Hannah committed suicide.  She left no note, no explanation.  Yet one day Clay receives a package in the mail.  A package containing 13 cassette tapes.  As he begins to listen to them, he hears her voice.  A voice he thought he would never hear again.  The tapes are her explanation.  Her story.  They are not an excuse, but a way for her to tell those who hurt her, who were part of her story, the role that they played in the events that led to her death. 

Asher has created a very powerful book about the nature of teen suicide.  Through Hannah he has created a character that the reader sympathizes with, that the reader wants to know more about.  It is a warning message about the terrible power of rumors, about how it only takes a little to spiral out of control.  It is also a story about revenge, as this is the only way Hannah knows to get her story out, her way of reaching out even though it is too late for anyone to respond.  Overall it is a very impressive book, though definitely suited to an older crowd not only due to the frankness it deals with suicide, but also the prevalence of sex and alcohol. 

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age Level: 9th grade