Thursday, October 22, 2015

34 Pieces of You

Rodrigues, Carmen.  34 Pieces of You.  NY: Simon Pulse, c2012.  323 pages.

Told in the voices of Jake, Sarah and Jessie, we also see glimpses of Ellie in the 34 paper scraps she left behind in a box.  All of the characters, including Ellie have their secrets, and when she dies of a drug overdose,  each of them feels some blame for her death.  None of them are sure if it was accidental or intentional suicide, but they are all afraid it was.  Through the narratives and Ellie's notes, you get a glimpse into the complicated events in her life and the complicated relationships that contribute to her hopelessness.  Her death also impacts the three narrators as they struggle to find a way to move on with their lives.  If you are looking for a book to read for Mrs. Boland's class, this is a complex one involving the obvious depression and suicide, but also drug abuse, self-mutilation, abusive relationships and gender identity.

Recommended for grades 9 and above.  Review by Mrs. Belknap

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Haunting of Sunshine Girl

McKenzie, Paige.  The Haunting os Sunshine Girl.  NY: Weinstein Books, c2015.  296 pages.  Book 1

Kat Griffith found a baby, abandoned by someone, and immediately fell in love with her.  Now that baby, who she named Sunshine, is sixteen and they are moving from sunny Texas to gloomy Washington, where it rains a lot.  Not only that, but Sunshine finds their new house creepy and is cold all the time.  When she starts to hear noises and finds things moved, her mother dismisses it as imagination.  Sunshine feels lost until she meets Nolan Foster who shares her interest in both photography and paranormal events, though for different reasons.  It becomes increasingly clear, when her mother's personality begins to change drastically, that they are in danger and Sunshine is the one who has to figure out how to save them.  If you're looking for a Hallowe'en spooky story, this might be a good choice.  You'll shiver along with Sunshine as she learns the truth.

Recommended for grades 7 and up as long as you don't mind scary.  Review by Mrs. Belknap


Coburn, Jake.  LoveSick.  NY: Dutton Books, c2005.  228 pages

Ted thought his drinking was not a problem because he only drank at home, late at night.  But one night he decides to risk driving to get more booze and has an accident that costs him his basketball scholarship, ends his plans for college, and forces him into AA. Ted thinks he has resigned himself to his new life until a wealthy father of a bulimic Manhattan rich girl has a tempting proposition. He has agreed to pay for Ted's college tuition, but there's a catch. Ted has to secretly keep tabs on Erica, his daughter.   At first Ted thinks it's an easy thing, but when he gets to know Erica, he hates himself for deceiving her, and he falls in love with her.   There are many realistic details in this book about both alcoholism and bulimia and the constant struggle to resist the addictions, and keep them secret from everyone else.  You may not identify with these two teens with different problems, but you will come to like them and respect their struggle to overcome things that work against them.

Recommended for grades 9 and above.  Review by Mrs. Belknap

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Quick, Matthew.  Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock.  NY: Little Brown, c2013.  273 p.  

This book, on the Iowa High School Book Award reading list for 2015-2016 deals with scary subjects in many ways.  Leonard Peacock is virtually an orphan.  He has parents, but his father disappeared and his mother is so involved in her fashion design business in New York, Leonard spends most of his time alone.  When his mother is around, she barely takes time to speak with him and spends her time on the phone.  

In junior high, Leonard had a best friend.  After a certain weekend, everything changed drastically, for the absolute worst.  Now, Leonard's neighbor, Walt, is his only real friend, and Leonard feels that the only other person he really respects and relates to is the teacher of his Holocaust class.  Leonard is slightly obsessed with wondering why Herr Silverman never rolls up his sleeves or wears short-sleeved shirts, but he feels Herr Silverman is honest and cares about each student and tries to make them think.

Leonard's birthday is the event that tips the scale for him, believing that life is not worth living anymore.  This is a chilling look into the life of a basically nice kid who can't deal with all the really bad things that have happened to him.

Recommended for grades 9 and above.  Review by Mrs. Belknap

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Gaiman, Neile and Michael Reaves.  Interworld.  NY: EOS, c2007.  239 pages.

Although the first book in this series was published in 2007, the final book was published this year.  The Silver Dream  is book 2, and Eternity's Wheel is book 3.

Imagine unintentionally stepping into another dimension in which there are thousands of other earths, each created by a major decision made in the previous world.  Then imagine that everyone in the Altiverse is actually a version of yourself, unique, but still you; maybe a cat-like girl, or a robotic younger boy, or an older man who is the leader?!  Then imagine that there are two alternative factions, one relying on magic and the other on science who are struggling to win control of everyone.  Imagine that you have to leave your family behind because if you "walk" out of the altiverse back to your family, you may leave a trail that your enemies can follow to harm your family.  You will not be bored when reading this many-layered science fiction series.  The many possibilities and variables will keep your brain busy sorting things out.  You will like Joey Harker (in all his various forms) and want to find out how things turn out.

Recommended for 7th grade and above.  Review by Mrs. Belknap

Monday, October 5, 2015

Vanishing Girls

Oliver, Lauren.  Vanishing Girls. NY: Harper, c2015.  357 pages.

From the publisher:  Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara's beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it's too late.

If you are looking for a fiction book for Mrs. Boland's health requirement, this book involves dissociative disorders.  It also involves the use of drugs, alcohol and dangerous decision-making.  I found myself reading long past bed-time to find out what happened next.  All the details are not revealed until the end of the book.

Recommended for high school and above.  Review by Mrs. Belknap