“Romancing the dark in the city of light” Ann Jacobus

Rated 2 stars ** 2015. Thomas Dunne. (St. Martin’s Griffin). 276 p. (Also includes Suicide Prevention Resources, and Discussion Questions.)

RomancingTheDarkInTheCityOfLightForced to move to Paris to live with her very rich mother after being kicked out of four high schools, eighteen-year-old Summer is not a happy camper. In order to inherit a lot of money, her grandfather’s will mandates that she graduate from a private high school and finish college by the age of twenty-two, but Summer can’t muster up the interest needed to finish the last five weeks of her senior year. She’d rather spend time drinking, and dreaming of the Parisian boyfriend she absolutely MUST find so she could have a purpose for her life.

After a suicide on the Metro she meets the very handsome Kurt, who she soon decides is going to be the boyfriend she’s been seeking. She also feels the same way about Moony, a fellow student at her high school. As time goes on, Summer spends more time getting drunk and hanging out with Kurt than she does with Moony – even though he’s the one who makes her heart flutter. With just a few weeks left before she’s supposed to graduate, Summer makes a decision that will forever change not only her life, but also Moony’s.

I wasn’t a fan of this book. I knew Summer had big problems, but some of what happened to her seemed a bit far fetched as well as fantastical. I also had a problem with her constant neediness and the way she couldn’t handle rejection – even something as simple as someone saying they had to go to a doctor’s appointment when she’d invited them to coffee.

Though I enjoyed the descriptions of Paris, which reminded me of the time I’d spent there many years ago, Moony was the only one that really grabbed my interest as I found Kurt and Summer to be clichés. It is because of Moony that I gave this book two stars instead of one.

I’ll leave it up to those of you in the 16 and older range to decide if you want to read it or not.

“Gap life” John Coy

Rated 3 stars *** ARC. Published November 22, 2016. Feiwel & Friends.

gaplifeCray’s father expects him to go to the college he went to, become a doctor just like him, and carry on the tradition of having doctors in the family. Cray has just graduated high school and is miserable. He doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life, but knows he definitely does NOT want to be a doctor.

When he finally gets the nerve to tell his parents he’s decided to take a “gap year” and will not be going to college in the fall, his father blows his top and insists he get a job to pay rent. His foray into the world of work puts him into contact with Rayne, a beautiful, free thinking fellow graduate who knows exactly what she’s going to do during her gap year.

Cray lands a part-time job at a home for developmentally disabled adults; soon learning that the acceptance he wishes for at home is fully his with the residents. As he works to figure out his future, figuring out how to stand up to his father, the independence Cray seeks finally falls into his lap.

I liked how adults with disabilities were shown in a positive light, but found Cray to be extremely whiny and immature. The more I read, the more I saw him as a spoiled rich boy and was annoyed. The morals of the story were to believe in yourself, make a decision, then get it done. It took WAY too long for him to believe in himself enough to actually make a decision.

Recommended, with reservations, for ages 14 and older.

“Ugly: A memoir” Robert Hoge

Rated 4 stars **** ARC. Published September 6, 2016. Viking.

uglyRobert was born July 21, 1972 with a giant tumor covering his face, underdeveloped legs, and missing toes. His mother refused to accept him, while his father left the decision of whether or not to keep him up to her. It wasn’t until many weeks later, when his four brothers and sisters were allowed to take part in the decision, that he was finally taken home.

Using simple explanations, Robert’s many operations and “aha!” moments are documented from elementary to high school. Despite being vague on the details of why he was born this way, and what happened after age 14, he clearly documents how he worked hard to live an ordinary life despite his physical limitations. He is an inspiration to those facing similar struggles.

Recommended for ages 9-14.

“Try not to breathe” Holly Seddon

Rated 4 stars **** ARC. Ebook. Published February 23, 2016. Ballantine Books.

TryNotToBreatheAmy Stevenson was 15 years old in 1995 when she went missing. She was found three days later savagely beaten, sexually assaulted, with multiple broken bones and severe brain damage. No suspect was ever found.

It is now 2010 and Alex Dale is writing about a brain doctor’s work in a neuro-disability ward with patients often typecast as “vegetables.” While on a tour of the facility she discovers Amy among the patients, which sets off her curiosity as to what happened fifteen years ago. Alex wants to dig into Amy’s past to locate clues, but her own past stands in the way. Her inability to stay sober has cost more than her marriage and job, as her self-esteem is at an all time low. If she manages to save Amy she may save herself.

As Amy’s foggy brain begins to sift through the events leading up to her attack, Alex tries to conquer her alcoholic demons. Through flashbacks and the present time, Seddon masterfully winds a path of intrigue, which will lead readers to a truth that will leave them reeling in disbelief.

Highly recommended for Adults.

“Far From You” Tess Sharpe

Rated 5 stars ***** 2014. Hyperion (Disney Book Group). 341 pp.

FarFromYouSophie was always in constant pain after a horrible car accident when she was just 14 years old. Oxy pills were her only relief as she learned to walk again, and even her best friend, neighbor and soul mate Mina couldn’t completely take away the pain. After spending the next 3 years addicted to Oxy, Mina intervenes and saves her from the death trap of drug addiction into which she was spiraling.

Now 17, Sophie is the prime suspect in a murder investigation because of a supposed drug deal gone badly. Mina is dead, but no one will believe that she has been clean for 6 months and didn’t have anything to do with buying drugs or killing her best friend. After being locked up in rehab for 3 months, Sophie has one thought in mind: revenge. She will find out who killed Mina and get justice. Unfortunately the murderer knows she’s looking, and will stop at nothing to remain hidden – even if it means murdering again.

This tension filled mystery, told through flashbacks, will keep readers eagerly turning pages to find out whodunit.

Recommended for ages 14 and older.

 

“Pinned” Sharon G. Flake

ARC (Advance Reading Copy). To be published October 1, 2012. Scholastic Press (Scholastic). 228 pp.

Told in alternating voices, “Pinned” tells the love/hate relationship of 9th graders Autumn and Adonis. Autumn is the only female wrestler on her 9th grade team. She loves wrestling, but hates everything else about school because she’s reading on a 6th grade level and is failing math. Wrestling makes her feel powerful and strong, instead of dumb, but her parents tell her if her grades don’t improve she will not be allowed on the team. Autumn doesn’t know what she’ll do if she doesn’t have wrestling. She loves cooking with her best friend Peaches, and planning for their future restaurant, but wrestling is her life.

Adonis was born without legs, and is the smartest student in school. Autumn is in love with him, and is not shy about letting him know this at every possible moment. Adonis does everything he can to avoid Autumn because he thinks she’s too impulsive, talks too much and isn’t smart. He admits she’s good at wrestling, but feels she could do more to improve her grades and believes she is just being lazy.

Autumn and Adonis are complete opposites, but circumstances keep pushing them together. They draw strength, and learn from one another, in surprising ways.

Recommended for ages 11-14.