Title: Let’s Get Lost
Author: Adi Alsaid
Interest level: Year 7 +
This really is a book to get lost in. Leila’s journey across America and Canada to witness the Northern Lights is told from five different characters’ perspectives. As Leila travels North she meets, befriends and ultimately changes for the better the lives of Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia. It is not until the conclusion that we learn that Leila’s journey is one in which she ultimately finds herself.
It is difficult not to be deeply distrustful of publishers who promise that a book is “…for readers of JOHN GREEN…”, yet, this is definitely a book for those of us who have enjoyed stories where adolescents face and meet real life challenges. Whilst there are a couple of situations in this book that are less convincing (Leila’s challenge may be medically “questionable, for example), Let’s Get Lost is still a very good read for people who are looking for happy resolutions. A feel good book of the first order.
Recommended (ipe): ***
TITLE = ELEANOR & PARK
AUTHOR = RAINBOW ROWELL
GENRE = FAMILIES, RELATIONSHIPS, SCHOOL, BULLYING, ROMANCE
INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 9+
This is a sad story as flagged from the opening page.
Park is afraid to be open about his feelings, so initially seems a bit angry with Eleanor. Eleanor seems gawky and awkward but as we follow their stories in alternating chapters, we see what hides beneath the veneer that they show the world.
Eleanor comes from a poor and brutal home where her step-father rules. He has only just allowed Eleanor to return home, after kicking her out a year ago. Her mother is afraid to stand up to her partner, so Eleanor and her siblings eat early (before he comes home) and cower whilst he shouts and their mother cries.
Eleanor’s newness and strange attire make her a target for the school bullies so school days are equally difficult for Eleanor; until Park slowly reaches out to her over a shared interest in comics and music. Gradually, their friendship blossoms, giving both of them inner strength. But does their love stand a chance when Eleanor’s brutish step-father is watching her every move… and when put to the test, will Eleanor and Park have the courage to take action .. even at a cost to their relationship?
This is a credible and moving story … although some readers may not like the ending?? Given the themes in the story, it is likely to suit more mature readers.
Recommended (dma) ****
TITLE= MONSTERS OF MEN
INTREST LEVEL=YOUNG ADULT
The awesome conclusion to the most heartbreaking series.
Todd and Viola have survived everything the planet can throw at them for six months. This is the end. But what end? Overwhelmed by an alien force tens of thousands strong. The battles being fought by the Answer, led by the fierce and harsh Mistress Coyle, and New Prentisstown, ruled by President Prentiss, deadly and mysterious lord of the planet, are swept away. The two merciless warlords must band together to defeat the threat. But when a settler scout lands, bringing a spaceship’s awesome firepower into the mix, only one side will win, and Todd and Viola are on opposite sides. The Spackle are unstoppable, President Prentiss is cunning, Todd is lying, Viola is dying and the world is ending.
TITLE = LOVE is the HIGHER LAW
AUTHOR = david levithan
GENRE = RELATIONSHIPS, GRIEF
INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 10 AND UP
This may not be a particularly long novel (at only 164 pages) but it packs a powerful punch. The impact of the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York is revealed by 3 teens, who take it in turns to tell their stories. At the beginning of the novel these 3 are only loosely connected (having all been at the same party on a previous weekend) but by novel’s end they are close friends, a strong affirmation of the novel’s title. Claire is in a classroom when news reaches them of the attacks and her first thought is of her little brother. Peter is initially oblivious to the attacks because he has his earplugs in as he impatiently waits for his favourite record store to open. He is excited and anxious about the date he has later that day with Jasper, a college student he met at the party. Meanwhile, Jasper has slept through the attacks and only becomes aware of them when his folks call from Korea (where they are visiting his grandma). As the story unfolds, we follow these 3 young people as they each try to make sense of what has happened in their hometown. Claire feels a growing sense of community, Peter tries to find solace in love and Jasper seems numb and incapable of reaching out to others. Gradually their stories intertwine and the reader will be greatly moved and ultimately uplifted by their experiences. A story that stays with you long after the last page is read.
In the author’s own words: “…it’s really the story of things coming together even as it feels like the world is falling apart — because that’s how it felt to be in New York at that time, both tragic because of the events that happened and magical in the way that everyone became their better selves in the face of it. ” (taken from david levithan’s website)
Highly Recommended (dma) *****
CITY OF BONES
If clubbing in New York you must be careful as it might be your last dance: monsters are on the prowl.
Clary Fray once thought she was human till she got a visit from a very arrogant, hot shadowhunter, Jace. Her life changed for the worst.With her mother in a coma, her only choice is to trust the shadow hunters as she might otherwise be killed by one of New York’s monsters.
Rating=***** Highly Recommended
Bookmark Days by Scot Gardener (GAR)
Genre: Teenage Romance
Interest Level: High school years (12+)
Bookmark days is about Avril, her cousin Katie, and one seriously hot guy! The Stanton family are complete enemies to the Carringtons, and although they are neighbours, any positive relationship between them is strictly prohibited. That’s why Avril is on the verge of a crisis. Nathaniel Carrington is one of those goose-bumping, heart pounding, stomach churning, “oh-my-god-he-looked-at-me” kind of guys! And when Avril finds her love behind enemy lines a whole lot of chaos unfolds. Will these two stubborn families figure it out, and can Nathaniel and Avril find a way to be together?
I Really believed this story and thought it was very well-written. I thought it was so real and it really gave a perfect snapshot of an ordinary teenage girls life. I Recommend this book to high school girls or ‘young women’.
Recommendation: * * * * *
Title: On the Jellicoe Road Author: Melina Marchetta
Interest Level: Yr9/10 up.
This is the war story with a twist. Taylor Markham was dumped by her mother on the jellicoe road when she was 11/12 years old. She was then picked up by her new mentor Hannah. 5 years later Taylor is trusted with leading her school in the territory wars against the cadets and townies. As Taylor tells her story another story is being told about 5 kids who lived in Jellicoe years earlier. Taylor and her new/old friends start to go on an adventure of a life time to disscover who the 5 kids were, why the territory wars started and who they are themselves. This was a fantastic story and one that will stay with you long after you have read it.
GEORGINA: Woman of Flowers by Libby Hathorn
GENRE: HISTORICAL FICTION
INTEREST LEVEL : YRS 10 AND UP
An entertaining and informative novel set in the early settlement of WA. We learn a lot about these difficult pioneering days, especially from the female perspective. The central character is an intriguing woman; her strong religious views may offend some of her neighbours but she gradually emerges as a strong, adaptable and caring woman who learns to love her new home of Australia. Her willingness to adapt to her new environment, her compassion and interest in those around her (including the Aboriginal peoples) soon endears Georgiana to the reader. Clearly well researched, this novel is an entertaining read. The central story of Georgiana may appeal more to the adult reader than the teenager, but the unfolding drama of the Summerfield family (who live with the constant threat of domestic violence from their brutish step-father and husband) is likely to be of more interest. This twin narrative allows the reader to see the life of the times from varying perspectives (and also reveals Georgiana’s compassion and influence in the growing friendship between the two women, despite their different backgrounds and circumstances).
Recommended (dma) ****
A ROSE for the ANZAC BOYS by Jackie French
GENRE: HISTORICAL FICTION
INTEREST LEVEL: YRS 9 AND UP
A beautifully crafted story, with strong characters who quickly grab the readers’ interest. Whilst French’s central aim (to tell the story of WW1 through women’s eyes) is stated boldly on the front cover – she manages to tell a story first and let the social message take care of itself. Although we do experience WW1 largely through the eyes of Midge, a young New Zealander, in her role as canteen operator, ambulance driver and nursing aid close to the front, this novel isn’t just about the role of women in war. Inevitably, the horror of trench warfare, the brutality of life for soldiers on the front line are all too vividly portrayed. French cleverly uses series of letters to convey not only the perspective of soldiers but also those who are back at home. The letters also help to place the time and events of the main story. We see the inevitable change in the main characters as war changes from the illusory world of heroism that young men and women are keen to involve themselves in (and that will soon be over) to the bitter and ugly reality of death and loss. The story is truly moving and clearly intended for older readers (the frankness of war’s horrors would be hard for young readers to bear). French’s research is exemplary and the additional notes at the end of the novel are informative. The story will stay with the reader long after the novel is finished.
Highly Recommended (dma) *****
The Other Facts of Life, Morris Gleitzman
This book is about a boy Ben who wants to help people from starving. It starts off with him watching movies about people starving. His parents get a bit worried about him. At a family and friends BBQ Ben shaves his head. This makes his mum and dad really mad and embarrassed. It was the funniest part in the book. If we had a choice we wouldn’t read it again because it gets a bit boring in the middle. we would say people in year 8 up would like it because Ben is around that year and age.
Jack and Alyson