Posts Tagged ‘Teen fiction’

Book Club Pick: June 2019

Ten-things-i-hate-about-me

Title: Ten things I hate about me

Author: Randa Abdel-Fattah

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: Australia

Publisher: Pan by Pan Macmillan

First Published: 2006

Pages: 278 pages

Publisher Description:

There are a lot of things Jamie hates about her life: her dark hair, her dad’s Stone Age Charter of Curfew Rights, her real name – Jamilah Towfeek.

For the past three years Jamie has hidden her Lebanese background from everyone at school. It’s only with her email friend John that she can really be herself. But now life is getting more complicated. The most popular boy in school is interested in her, but there’s no way he would be if he knew the truth. Then there’s Timothy, the school loner, who for some reason Jamie just can’t stop thinking about. As for John, he seems to have a pretty big secret of his own…

To top it all off, Jamie’s school formal is coming up. The only way she’ll be allowed to attend is by revealing her true identity. But who is she…Jamie or Jamilah?

Review:

The novel follows sixteen-year-old Australian-Lebanese-Muslim high school student Jamilah Towfeek living in the western suburbs of Sydney. Jamiliah for the past three years has hidden her Lebanese-Muslim identity from her high school peers by dying her hair blonde, wearing blue contact lenses, and going by the name Jamie.

Unfortunately at her school bullying and ethnic discrimination exists. So it is understandable why Jamilah is hiding her identity.

At home Jamilah feels oppressed by her overly protective father’s strict rules. He is the breadwinner and disciplinarian after her mother’s passing. Jamilah is frustrated by her older brother Bilal’s freedom, he doesn’t have the same rules and can go out to parties and date because he is a boy. She is also embarrassed by sister Shereen’s Muslim activism.

Jamilah hasn’t completely denied her Lebanese-Muslim heritage she enjoys attending madrasa, an Arabic school, where she plays the drums in a band.

There are also three boys in Jamilah’s life.

At school Jamie attracts the attention of Peter, one of the most popular boys in school, but also one of the school bullies.

Jamie is also partnered on class assignment with Timothy, a loner in school who is comfortable in his own skin and isn’t bothered by what his classmates think of him.

Then there is John, a boy who she communicates with via email (her email is Ten_Things_I_hate_About_Me@hotmail.com). John is the only person she can be herself with because they have never met.

As one will expect the novel explores Jamilah’s struggles to accept her true identity.

In 2017 I attended All Day YA at the Sydney Writer’s Festival, where Randa Abdel-Fattah was on a panel about diversity in YA Fiction. 

Links:

Randa Abdel-Fattah Official Website

Randa Abdel-Fattah on Twitter

Randa Abdel-Fattah on Facebook

 

Source: I purchased this book second hand.

Book Club Pick: March 2019

everythingeverything

Title: Everything, everything

Author: Nicola Yoon

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: United States of America

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

First Published: 2015

Pages: 310

Publisher Description:

Live life is a bubble?
Or risk everything for live?

Maddy is allergic to the world.
She hasn’t left her house in seventeen years.

Olly is the boy next door.
He’s determined to find a way to reach her.

Everything, Everything is about the crazy risks we take for love.

Review:

The novel follows Madeline ‘Maddy’ Whittier, a biracial teenager (African-American and 3rd generation Japanese-American) who is being treated for rare disease called Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SKID).

Maddy lives her life inside a sterile environment never leaving her house – hence why SKID is often referred to as ‘bubble disease’. Her only company is her doctor mother, her day nurse Carla, and the occasional tutor.

Shortly after her 18th birthday she watches from her window as the Bright family move in next door – mom, dad, son, and daughter. Maddy is drawn to the son: ‘tall, lean, and wearing all black: black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers and black knit cap that covers his hair completely’. He practices parkour, is mysterious, and her bedroom looks directly into his.

The boy-next-door Olly befriends Maddy and the two first begin communicating by mime from their bedroom windows and later online, and eventually with the help of Carla are able to meet in person – behind her mother’s back.

IMG_0624

Maddy and Ollie communicate via email

IMG_0625.JPG

and instant messaging

Maddy knows that her and Olly will never be able to have a normal relationship, and the novel explores this dilemma.

The book features numerous illustrations throughout by Nicola’s husband David (his debut novel Frankly in Love is due out September 2019).

IMG_0617

Illustration by David Yoon

In 2007 a film adaptation was released with Amandla Stenberg as Maddy and Nick Robinson as Olly

Everything_Everything

Links:

Nicola Yoon Official Website

Nicola Yoon on Facebook

Nicola Yoon on Twitter

Nicola Yoon on Instagram

 

Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.

Book Club Pick: February 2019

willgraysonwillgrayson

Title: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Author: John Green and David Levithan

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: United States of America

Publisher: Dutton Juvenile

First Published: 2010

Pages: 310

Publisher Description:

One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.

Review:

The novel is told from the perspective of two Illinois teenagers that share the same name – Will Grayson.

The odd numbered chapters are narrated by heterosexual Chicago high school teenager Will Grayson. He is the only male heterosexual-identifying member of his school’s Gay Straight Alliance. He is living in the shadow (literally) of his best friend Tiny Cooper, an ironic name considering his size and personality. Tiny is larger-than-life, flamboyant, openly gay and much to Will’s distain writing an autobiographical musical, which features a character loosely (obviously) based on Will.

The even number chapters are told from the perspective of Will Grayson, an angry and depressed closeted gay teenager from Naperville, Illinois. He is taking medication for his depression. The only light in his life is Issac, a boy he chats with online.

John Green wrote all the odd-numbered chapters (capitalised Will Grayson), while David Levithan wrote all the even-numbered chapters (lowercase will grayson). Green’s chapters are written with correct punctuation, while Levithan’s chapters use lowercase letters and the language is more vulgar. This is a simple way of clearly distinguishing the two characters.

While the characters stories start off separately they each become interwoven when the two Will Graysons meet in a porn store.

The novel was the first LGBT-themed novel on the New York Times children’s best seller list.

Links:

John Green Official Website

John Green on Facebook

John Green on Twitter

John Green on Instagram

Vlogbrothers YouTube Channel (with brother Hank Green)

 

David Levithan Official Website

David Levithan on Facebook

David Levithan on Twitter

 

Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.

Book Club Pick: January 2019

CruelSummer

Title: Cruel Summer

Author: Juno Dawson (originally published under James Dawson)

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: Great Britain

Publisher: Indigo

First Published: 2013

Pages: 324

Publisher Description:

Ryan is looking forward to spending the summer with his old school friends at Katie’s luxurious Spanish villa. He hadn’t seen the gang since their friend, Janey, committed suicide a year ago.
He hopes this summer they’ll be able to put the past behind them and move on – until someone else arrives, claiming to have proof that Janey’s suicide was murder!

Ryan was hoping for sun, sea and sand.
Suddenly, he’s facing a long, hot summer of death, drama and deceit…

Review:

Cruel Summer is largely told from the point-of-view of gay aspiring actor Ryan Hayward, who with a flair for gossip and drama narrates the story as if it is an imaginary television show about his life. This allows for the novel to have flashbacks and quickly change viewpoints amongst the young cast of characters. The chapters are titled scene or flashback.

Ryan labels his friends as if they are characters in a teen television drama – The Good Girl (Katie), The Bad Girl (Alisha), The Jock (Alisha’s twin brother Greg), The Geek (Katie’s ex-boyfriend Ben), and The New Girl (Greg’s girlfriend Erin).

The group of former high school friends are meeting up again for the summer in Spain at Katie’s family’s remote, luxurious Mediterranean villa after their first year at university.

The main mystery of the novel is when Roxanne Dent – the ‘high-school Lolita, boyfriend stealer and best friend turned arch-nemesis of Alisha’ turns up unexpectedly and announces that she has proof that Janey Bradshaw’s suicide the year before was murder – one of them is a murderer.

There are plenty of twists in turns in this tongue-a-cheek teenage soap opera style whodunnit.

 

Links:

Juno Dawson Official Website

Juno Dawson on Twitter

Juno Dawson on Facebook

Juno Dawson on Instagram

Juno Dawson on Tumblr


Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.

Book Club Pick: December 2018

BornScared

Title: Born Scared

Author: Kevin Brooks

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: Great Britain

Publisher: Electric Monkey

First Published: 2016

Pages: 244

Publisher Description:

Elliot is terrified of almost everything.
The only thing that keeps his fears in check are the pills that he takes every day, and his mother, the one person he loves and trusts.

A mistake means that Elliot’s medication is almost gone. His mother nips out to collect his prescription. It’s just 482 metres down the road – but she doesn’t back back. Does Elliot stay and wait, or does he try to find her? It’s only 482 metres. It might as well be 482 miles…

Review:

When one thinks of a Christmas story they probably think of a cosy, warm hearted story filled with Christmas cheer. This year I choose read something a bit different – a psychological teen thriller that takes place on Christmas Eve.

Thirteen-year-old Elliot suffers from a severe anxiety disorder. He is terrified over almost everything. Elliot claims to remember his birth and his twin sister Ellamay, who died at birth. He has internal conversations with Ellamay.

It is Christmas Eve, there has been a snowstorm, and there has been a mix-up with Elliot’s medication. Elliot’s mother sets out leaving him home alone after Elliot’s aunt, who agreed to collect the medication from the pharmacy is late and unreachable by phone.

61JiqeF8w-L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

We also see two robbers dressed in Santa suits and the office Christmas party, which sees a bank manager on a drug-fuelled bender that involves a police chase.

All these elements connect together for a gripping, tense, intelligent exploration of mental illness with an explosive ending.

If you are looking for a more upbeat holiday fare please check out my past Christmas themed book reviews – What Light by Jay Asher and Let it Snow by Maureen Johnson, John Green & Lauren Myracle

 

Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.

Book Club Pick: November 2018

HateUGive

Title: The Hate U Give

Author: Angie Thomas

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: United the States of America

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

First Published: 2017

Pages: 464

Publisher Description:

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.

Review:

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is caught between two words – Garden Heights, her predominantly black impoverished neighbourhood, and Williamson Prep, her affluent, majority-white private school.

She has a white boyfriend Chris from her school that she is keeping a secret from her father. But this secret romance is only a minor subplot in the story.

The focus is the events in Starr’s life after she witnesses the fatal police shooting of her unarmed childhood friend Khalil, following a routine traffic stop.

Thomas splits her 464 page novel into five parts: Part 1: When It Happens, Parts 2: Five Weeks After It, Part 3: Eight Weeks After It, Part 4: Ten Weeks After It, and Part 5: The Decision – Thirteen Weeks After It.

This is a powerful piece for a debut novelist. Thomas began the project as a short story for her senior project at Belhaven University. Her project was in response to the 2009 police shooting of Oscar Grant.

The novel features strong language and drug references, which I believe is appropriate for the nature of the story, but as a result the novel is controversial and appears on challenged / banned book lists.

A feature film adaptation directed by George Tillman Jr. was released in the US last month. It stars Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, KJ Apa, Algee Smith, Lamar Johnson, Issa Rae, Sabrina Carpenter, Common, and Anthony Mackie.

The-Hate-U-Give-poster

Book Club Pick: September 2018

TwoBoysKissing

Book Details:

Title: Two Boys Kissing

Author: David Levithan

Series: Stand alone novel

Country: United States of America

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf

First Published: 2013

Pages: 196

Publisher Description:

The two boys kissing are Craig and Harry. They’re hoping to set the world record for the longest kiss. They’re not a couple, but they used to be.

Peter and Neil are a couple. Their kisses are different.

Avery and Ryan have only just met and are trying to figure out what happens next. Both of them worry that something will go wrong.

Cooper is alone. It’s getting to the point where he doesn’t really feel things anymore.

These boys, along with their friends and families, form a tapestry that will reveal love of all kinds: open and eager, tentative and cautious, pained and scared. New York Times bestselling author David Levithan has sewn together their lives into a redemptive whole that will captivate, illuminate, and move readers.

Review:

Two Boys Kissing follows four separate stories that focus on seven gay teenage boys that are all coming to terms with their sexuality. These four stories take place over a period of about 48 hours in a small American town.

The title comes from a World Record that Harry and Craig are trying to set – the longest kiss. They use to date but are now just friends. This part of the story is inspired by a real life event when college students Matty Daley and Bobby Canciello kissed for thirty-two hours, thirty minutes, and forty-seven seconds to break a Guinness World Record for the longest continuous kiss.

MattyBobby2

Matty Daley and Bobby Canciello

There are two other stories that focus on couples. Peter and Neil are a couple and have been dating awhile. On the other hand blue haired Ryan and pink haired Avery have just met and are beginning to date. Avery is a transgender teen and personally would have liked to have seen more of Avery and Ryan’s story.

The last story follows Cooper, who is closeted, alone and lives in a world where he pretends to be other people online. His story is probably the darker of the four.

The novel is narrated by Greek chorus of gay men who lost their lives during the AIDs epidemic and recall a time where society was less accepting of homosexuality. That is not to say that Levithan’s world is entirely accepting – there are protests against Harry and Craig’s kissing record, and other characters experience instances of homophobia or people not being accepting.

Click here to read my review David Levithan’s novel Boy Meets Boy.

 

Links:

David Levithan Official Website

David Levithan on Facebook

David Levithan on Twitter

 

Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.