“Always” Sarah Jio

Rated 3 stars *** ARC. Ebook. Ballantine Books. To be published February 7, 2017.

alwaysKailey loved Ryan, her handsome and rich fiancé who she’d been dating for 4 years. Though secretly still in love with a man from her past, they were set to marry. The day she runs into a homeless man she recognizes as Cade, the love of her life who had disappeared years earlier, her life forever changes.

Through flashbacks, readers are shown their love story, setting the stage for Cade’s disappearance and Ryan’s appearance in Kailey’s life. The more she remembers the former life she had with Cade, the more she begins to question her life with Ryan. Should she give up an old love for a new one? Could she learn to live a new life and leave her old one behind?

As Kailey debates what to do, readers easily split into Pro Ryan or Pro Cade camps. The decision is not as hard as Kailey makes it out to be; she’s just too dense to figure it out as fast as I did. In the midst of trying to understand what happened to Cade, I couldn’t figure out the point of all the “cloak and dagger” mysteries around him. “Always” was okay but was a bit too predictable, with a few too many loose ends, for me to rate it higher than three stars.

Recommended for Adults who don’t mind the occasional “huh?” thrown into their reading.

I received an Advance Reading digital copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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“The Memory of Things” Gae Polisner

Rated 4 stars **** ARC. Published September 6, 2016. St. Martin’s Press (Macmillan.) 275 pp. (Includes Author’s Note.)

thememoryofthingsTerror and helplessness followed the events of 9/11, felt throughout the United States and, especially, in New York City. “The Memory of Things,” released for the 15th anniversary of that tragic day, tells the story of 16-year-old Kyle and the mysterious girl he found cowering on the Brooklyn Bridge as he and others fled the horror of downtown Manhattan. In alternate voices the teens recount their stories and memories, gradually turning their terror, pain and sorrow into a sense of hopefulness and determination while falling in love.

I lived through those days as a teacher in N.Y.C., and managed to spend the past 15 years avoiding graphically descriptive yearly television documentaries or photographs of the time. It took several years before I could listen, or look at, a low flying plane without my eyes filling with tears. Even now, 15 years later, it’s still painful.

Knowing 9/11 hit me stronger than others, I was a bit leery about reviewing a book about 9/11. However, since it was a young adult book, I was hopeful it wouldn’t be too graphic. Polisner covered the feelings of loss and bewilderment that filled the days after this terror attack, while also infusing a sense of hope that radiated through Kyle’s generous nature. As she described New Yorkers’ reactions towards the events that shook us to the core, along with Kyle’s sense of duty and protectiveness towards a complete stranger, readers will get the sense that there will always be a shoulder to lean on when it’s needed to help us through the roughest of storms.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

“Lavina” Mary Marcus

Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. 2015. The Story Plant.

LavinaMary Jacob barely remembers her life before she was 13, growing up in Murpheysfield, Louisiana. She is shocked when her older sister calls to say her dad is dying and wants to see her, as she hasn’t spoken to either of them in years. Despite her misgivings she decides to return home, where she is soon forced to face memories she has tried so hard to forget.

Billy Ray, singer and harmonica player, left his hometown of Murpheysfield, Louisiana in 1963 when he was 15 years old and his mother, Lavina, was killed. Thirty years later he reluctantly returns for a gig and finds out Mary Jacob is in town. He knows she is the only one who knows what really happened the day his mother died, and he is determined to finally get the truth out of her.

In alternate voices Mary Jacob, Lavina and Billy Ray talk about life during Jim Crow. As their connections to each other are revealed, the past begins to blend into the present as the events that changed their lives forever are finally revealed.

“Lavina” reveals the endurance of an oppressed race as well as the complex world that existed between black and white. It will stay with you long after the last page is turned.

Highly recommended for Adults.

 

“With Malice” Eileen Cook

Rated 4 stars **** ARC. Ebook. To be published June 7, 2016. HMH Books for Young Readers.

WithMaliceJill and Simone have been best friends since fourth grade even though they’re complete opposites. Simone is a cheerleader, likes to flirt with boys, drink and party while Jill enjoys blogging about world events, studying, and making sure her GPA stays at 4.0. With graduation approaching, Jill has already been accepted to Yale while Simone doesn’t yet have plans for her future.

When both girls go on a school trip to Italy, Simone is killed in a car accident and Jill is accused of her murder. Airlifted back to the United States with amnesia, broken bones and extended rehab, Jill struggles to regain her memory. She is desperate to find out what really happened before she gets sent back to Italy to face murder charges. When readers finally find out what happened that fateful day, they will be shocked. I know I was, and actually gasped out loud. Kudos to Cook for that!

Cook does a great job stringing readers along, slowly providing the back-story of Simone and Jill’s lives through teacher, family and friend interviews provided to U.S. and Italian detectives. Despite the interesting storyline, I only gave this book 4 stars instead of 5 because I had a problem with the descriptions of Italian cities and places to visit, taken from travel guidebooks. I didn’t think they were necessary to Simone and Jill’s lives, and the story Cook was unraveling about them.

Recommended for readers ages 14 and older.

I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

“Loud Awake and Lost” Adele Griffin

Rated 5 stars ***** 2013. Alfred A. Knopf. 289 pp.

LoudAwakeandLostSeventeen-year-old Ember almost died the day her car went over the bridge. After 8 months of recovery and therapy from her operations, Ember is finally getting to return home. Her parents and best friend Rachel assure her she is back to normal, but Ember feels as if she’s missing something. A few months of her memory have been lost due to temporary amnesia and, when she finds out a passenger named Anthony had been killed in the accident, Ember is determined to try and regain her memories to find out more about why they’d been in the car together.

Little by little pieces of memory come floating up to the surface of her mind, bringing more questions than answers. Rachel, her parents, her friends and her ex boyfriend Holden want her to be the girl she was before the accident, but Ember is not comfortable dropping back into the mold they made for her life. Despite not being able to dance anymore, she wants her own identity and is sure her hidden memories hold the key to her past and her future. From the hints people have been dropping, she is sure Anthony was more than just a friend but can’t put together the missing pieces of their relationship.

While striving to remember Anthony she meets Kai, who shares her dreams of wanting to break out from the mold society has planned and envisions a whole new world for them. Together they begin the romance of their lives, effectively frustrating Rachel, her parents and Holden as Ember feels herself drawing away from them as she draws closer to Kai.

When Ember finally regains her memories, I was shocked at what Adele Griffin had planned out all along, as I had never seen it coming. “Loud Awake and Lost” leads readers on a roller coaster ride of Ember’s emotions as she seeks to find herself amidst the missing parts of her life, and will keep readers eagerly turning pages to discover more of Ember’s memories and insights.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

Listed on the ALA (American Library Association’s) Best Fiction for Young Adults list (compiled by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA).

“Pretty Girl-13” Liz Coley

Rated 5 stars ***** 2013. Katherine Tegen Books (HarperCollins). 350 pp. (Includes “Afterword” and “Author’s Note.”)

PrettyGirl-13Angie Chapman came home from her girl scout camping trip and was shocked to find out she’d been gone for 3 years. She can’t understand why she doesn’t remember this timeframe, and won’t believe her parents when they insist she is 16 years old. Gradually Angie finds out she has Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder, and has blocked out her life for the past 3 years.

With the help of a therapist Angie struggles to piece together what happened over these lost years, but facing reality becomes more and more difficult. All she wants to do is to forget what happened in that little cabin out in the woods, but her inner selves won’t allow it. As memories from her personalities begin to be revealed, Angie’s fears and secrets threaten to overwhelm her. It will take great strength, determination and courage to keep her head above water, as well as love and acceptance from friends and family. As Angie discovers why these people came to live inside her head, she gradually realizes they each had a role to play in shaping her life and that without them, she wouldn’t be alive.

“Pretty Girl -13” takes an unflinching, dark, raw, honest, eye-opening look at the effects of DID on the person who is experiencing these multiple personalities as well as its effects on their loved ones. Coley has painstakingly done her research into this disorder, and “Pretty Girl -13” is the magnificent result.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

Listed on the ALA (American Library Association’s) Best Fiction for Young Adults list (compiled by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)