Rated 2 stars ** ARC. Published October 11, 2016. Amulet Books. 354 p.
Seventeen-year-old Amelia and her older brother Toby have always been more like best friends than brother and sister. They love watching all kinds of movies, and their movie quotes drive everyone crazy. Toby comes up with fun, silly ideas of things to do, is the life of the party, and always has an entourage of friends.
She and Toby have always been there for each other so, when he starts cutting school, smoking pot, staying in his room, and acting strangely, Amelia covers for him. She starts to put her own life on hold for him, getting mad at her boyfriend and best friend for suggesting something might be wrong with him. When Toby is diagnosed with schizophrenia, Amelia has to learn how to deal with his diagnosis and to live her life without her brother by her side.
It took some time before I could really get into this book. I started it, put it down for a few months, and then decided to try again one more time. The constant movie quotes, titles of movies I’d never heard of, and constant references to movies at inopportune times were very off putting. It wasn’t until Toby was diagnosed and Amelia decided to stop living her life like a movie that the book became bearable. Only then was I finally able to read without the constant distraction of movie titles and quotes. I also didn’t think the author needed to be so explicit when describing Amelia and her boyfriend’s sexual antics. I thought it was an unnecessary distraction, and the book could have stood alone without their relationship.
I wasn’t a fan of this book, and the only reason I gave it two stars instead of one was because I thought it important for readers to learn about how mental illness affects teenagers.
Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Published October 11, 2016. Delacorte Press. 375 p. (Includes “Author’s Note,” and a list of Sources.)
Catherine, a seventeen-year-old high school junior used to be a dancer, used to have two best friends, and used to have a normal life. Everything changed her freshman year when her grandmother died and she was diagnosed as bipolar. Now life revolves around therapy, counseling, medication and loneliness.
After unsuccessfully trying to commit suicide during an especially bad case of depression, Catherine is sure she can never live a normal life. Depression, which she calls “zero,” will always suck her dry so she has decided it would be best to have an escape plan. Her plan consists of stockpiling pills to use when Zero rears its ugly head.
Catherine thinks being bipolar means she can never drive, go to college, have a boyfriend or live the life she was meant to live. As she prepares for Zero and her pills, she begins to live in ways she’d never thought possible. Should she dare to dream of life beyond Zero, or will Zero continue to erase every one of her hopes and dreams?
Fortunati offers hope to teens suffering from bipolar depression. I hope Catherine’s story will be a beacon to lead them to safer waters.
Recommended for 14 and older.
Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Published September 13, 2016. Abrams. 316 p. (Includes Glossary as well as a list of Places and proper names.)
Sungju lived with his father and mother in a fine apartment in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. His father held a high office in the army and, as devout followers of esteemed leader Kim Il-sung, Sungju and his parents had a happy, easy life. Expected to follow in his father’s footsteps, Sungju went to a very good school and studied tae kwon do with other future leaders of the military.
In 1997, his father was kicked out of the army for unknown reasons. Forced to move to the slums of the town of Gyeong-Seong, life rapidly deteriorated. With hunger as their constant enemy, his father, soon followed by his mother, left in search of food. At the age of twelve, Sungju was left to fend for himself.
In his own words, Sungju tells how he learned to survive on the streets of various cities for four years with his gang of street “brothers,” despite starvation, beatings, and imprisonment. The story of their friendship and love, along with Sungju’s musings on governmental policy, hope, and Korean legends are woven together to create a powerful story of survival that will tug at reader’s heartstrings.
Highly recommended for ages 14 and older.
Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. 2016. Abrams.343 pp.
Olivia hates that her mother walked away from her family three years ago. Kat holes up in her room with Internet games. Matt fills his days getting high. Juniper is the perfect queen of Paloma High. Valentine is a loner. Lucas is everyone’s go to guy for beer and weed. Claire wonders why she can’t be like Olivia and Juniper.
When the news breaks that someone is involved in a secret affair with a teacher, everyone is shocked. Each of these students has the power to reveal the truth, yet they all have their own secrets. Are someone else’s secrets more important than your own? As truth and lies blend, this unlikely group of students become bound together in ways they never imagined.
“Seven Ways to Lie” was very thought provoking, with each character having their own chapter to articulate their issues and thought patterns. She challenges her readers to think about the “why” of situations, reminding them that things are not always as they seem.
Recommended for ages 14 and older.
Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Published August 30, 2016. Delacorte Press.
Who are cutters? Why do they cut? What can be done to get them to stop? Do they want to stop? Can they ever live a “normal” life? Will anyone ever love them? Can they ever love themselves? Can “regular” people learn to see beyond their scars? Can THEY learn to see themselves beyond their scars?
Seventeen-year-old Charlotte Davis answers these questions and more as she narrates her personal story of abuse, neglect, fear, despair and homelessness in short, revealing chapters. Charlotte’s narrative is a small window into the souls of the millions of teens who feel the only way they can release their personal pain is through self-mutilation.
“Girl in Pieces” is raw, truthful, despairing and inspirational. It will stay with you long after the last page is turned. Several copies should be in every public and high school library to show these teens they are not alone, and that they are loved.
Highly recommended for ages 16 and older.
Rated 3 stars *** ARC. Ebook. Simon & Schuster. 2015.
Estella Goodwinn returns home late one night to find her mother in a drugged stupor alongside a dead body. She accuses Danny Balando, her mother’s dealer and leader of a local Philadelphia drug cartel, of the murder. With her life threatened, she is forced to leave behind her boyfriend Reed, given a new identity, and sent to live in Nebraska under the Witness Protection Program.
Now known as Stella, she angrily refuses to settle into her strange new life in Thunder Basin. Knowing she only has to wait a few months until she turns 18 and can leave, she spends days plotting her escape. Carmina, the long suffering retired cop who took her in, and Chet Falconer, the good looking neighbor boy, begin to whittle away at the bricks of pain, loneliness and confusion she’d built around her heart. As Stella begins to feel a pull towards Chet and life in Thunder Basin, she gets a reminder from her old life that will forever shake up her life.
Fitzgerald did a good job describing the witness protection program, but Stella’s bratty behavior towards Carmina, and her constant neediness for Reed was a little over the top. Her up and down emotions towards her mother and Chet was another downer, which is why I only gave it 3 stars.
Despite these bad spots, “Dangerous Lies” is a good read, and I will recommend it for ages 16 and older.
I received an electronic copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Rated 3 stars *** ARC. Ebook. To be published July 12, 2016. Random House.
In the late 1980’s a murder was committed in Pen’s small hometown when she was only 15, which implicated her and her best friend Tracey. It’s now 1990, and she is seeing a psychiatrist for some murders that happened at her University. Using her doctor’s suggestion, Pen decides to keep a journal to recount events in her life so she could get to the root of her real problems.
Pen’s diary goes back and forth in time describing the current situation in her hometown, then skipping back to her life at University where someone is attacking females with a screwdriver, and where drugs, sex and drinking run rampant and unchecked. Occasionally Pen’s diary jumps even further back in time to give readers glimpses of her time with Tracey, but that timeframe is not as well developed.
The author cleverly weaved in secrets and lies as people were dropping like flies, which made me suspect practically everyone. I enjoyed trying to figure out what was happening, but I did not like the way the book ended. Are readers supposed to guess at what happened in the last chapter, or is the author planning on writing a sequel? I really hope not, but if she isn’t going to write one why did she leave readers dangling off the edge of a cliff?
I will recommend this book with some reservations. If it weren’t for the ending, and not getting clear answers to my many questions about Pen and Tracey, I would have given this book 4 stars. Its murky ending lowered it to three stars.
Recommended for Adults.
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.