This is a series I started to take a closer look at the recommendations my professor of Adolescent Literature, Dr. Ellington, made for me according to my personal reading tastes. I find the books from the list on Goodreads, then I check out the rating it has, the literary awards the it has received, and read the description to see what I think.
I’m not one to usually pick up a book about sports, but by this book’s description on Goodreads I might just have to make an exception. I’m intrigued by the characters already and the synopsis gives me just enough to want more. Boy21 by Matthew Quick earns a 4.05 out of 5.00 stars on Goodreads rating scale and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee (2012), YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (Top Ten) (2013), Cybils Award
s Nominee (2012) literary awards.
“Basketball has always been an escape for Finley. He lives in gray, broken Bellmont, a town ruled by the Irish Mob, drugs, violence, and racially charged rivalries. At home, he takes care of his disabled grandfather, and at school he’s called “White Rabbit”, the only white kid on the varsity basketball team. He’s always dreamed of getting out somehow with his girlfriend, Erin. But until then, when he puts on his number 21, everything seems to make sense.
Russ has just moved to the neighborhood. A former teen basketball phenom from a privileged home, his life has been turned upside down by tragedy. Cut off from everyone he knows, he now answers only to the name Boy21—his former jersey number—and has an unusual obsession with outer space.
As their final year of high school brings these two boys together, “Boy21” may turn out to be the answer they both need.”
Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard only receives 3.41 stars, but I think that the story has more potential than that from reading the synopsis. Did they murder the friend?! I have to know what really happened in this William C. Morris YA Debut Award Nominee (2012).
“At the beginning of his junior year at a boys’ boarding school, 16-year-old Alex is devastated when he fails to save a drowning friend. When questioned, Alex and his friend Glenn, who was also at the river, begin weaving their web of lies. Plagued by guilt, Alex takes refuge in the library, telling his tale in a journal he hides behind Moby-Dick. Caught in the web with Alex and Glenn is their English teacher, Miss Dovecott, fresh out of Princeton, who suspects there’s more to what happened at the river when she perceives guilt in Alex’s writing for class. She also sees poetic talent in Alex, which she encourages. As Alex responds to her attention, he discovers his true voice, one that goes against the boarding school bravado that Glenn embraces. When Glenn becomes convinced that Miss Dovecott is out to get them, Alex must choose between them.”
Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick sounds like an extremely powerful novel; 4.17 stars and a National Book Award Nominee (2012) plus a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (Top Ten) (2013). I don’t even know what else to say except this one will definitely make me cry throughout…
“When soldiers arrive at his hometown in Cambodia, Arn is just a kid, dancing to rock ‘n’ roll, hustling for spare change, and selling ice cream with his brother. But after the soldiers march the entire population into the countryside, his life is changed forever. Arn is separated from his family and assigned to a labor camp: working in the rice paddies under a blazing sun, he sees the other children, weak from hunger, malaria, or sheer exhaustion, dying before his eyes. He sees prisoners marched to a nearby mango grove, never to return. And he learns to be invisible to the sadistic Khmer Rouge, who can give or take away life on a whim.
One day, the soldiers ask if any of the kids can play an instrument. Arn’s never played a note in his life, but he volunteers. In order to survive, he must quickly master the strange revolutionary songs the soldiers demand—and steal food to keep the other kids alive. This decision will save his life, but it will pull him into the very center of what we know today as the Killing Fields. And just as the country is about to be liberated from the Khmer Rouge, Arn is handed a gun and forced to become a soldier. He lives by the simple credo: Over and over I tell myself one thing: never fall down.
Based on the true story of Arn Chorn-Pond, this is an achingly raw and powerful novel about a child of war who becomes a man of peace, from National Book Award finalist Patricia McCormick.”
Beneath the Meth Moon is by Jaqueline Woodson, who is a three time Newberry-winning author, but this particular book hasn’t received any literary awards. Goodreads only gives it a 3.63 out of 5.00 stars and the description has me feeling a little skeptical. I’m not sure why they decided to tell readers that she moves on from the meth to rewrite her story… Wouldn’t that be a climactic turning point in the plot? Anyway it does sound like a type of book I would enjoy so, I guess there’s only one way to find out.
“Laurel Daneau has moved on to a new life, in a new town, but inside she’s still reeling from the loss of her beloved mother and grandmother after Hurricane Katrina washed away their home. Laurel’s new life is going well, with a new best friend, a place on the cheerleading squad and T-Boom, co-captain of the basketball team, for a boyfriend. Yet Laurel is haunted by voices and memories from her past.
When T-Boom introduces Laurel to meth, she immediately falls under its spell, loving the way it erases, even if only briefly, her past. But as she becomes alienated from her friends and family, she becomes a shell of her former self, and longs to be whole again. With help from an artist named Moses and her friend Kaylee, she’s able to begin to rewrite her story and start to move on from her addiction.
Incorporating Laurel’s bittersweet memories of life before and during the hurricane, this is a stunning novel by one of our finest writers. Jacqueline Woodson’s haunting—but ultimately hopeful—story is beautifully told and one readers will not
want to miss.”
Have you read any of these titles?!