All posts tagged: young adult

Teenage Nostalgia

I knew fairly little about this book before starting. I was surprised to find how much of it I related to. It’s the story of Jessie. She and her father move from Chicago to Southern California just as she’s starting her junior year of high school. Not too long before this move, they’ve lost her mother to cancer, and now her father’s moving them across the country to live with his new wife, and her son. Their new home is grand and pristine. She feels unwelcome among the richness, and dramatically out of place at her new private school where money rules. The only welcome she receives comes via email from “Somebody Nobody;” an anonymous classmate of Jessie’s who volunteers his knowledge of all things Wood Valley High School. Granted I didn’t move to Southern California after such a loss as Jessie experienced, but I did move from Chicago to Southern California as I started my junior year of high school. And formerly a student of public schools, I started at a private school in …

May & June Book

This school year has finally coming to a close, and we couldn’t be happier to welcome warmer weather and summer vacations! And as is tradition around here at The Bookly Club, in May & June we like to celebrate with a great YA read. Although none of us here at Bookly would likely self-profess as YA super-fans, we’ve enjoyed most of our the young adult selections in the past (Salt to the Sea and The Perks of Being a Wallflower among the favorites). Plus, what better time of year to revisit being young and oh so dramatic… signing yearbooks on the last day of school, looking forward to summer reading lists (just us?), and everything in between. This May & June (we like to combine these months for a little break during a busy time of year) we’ve selected Julie Buxbaum’s Tell Me Three Things. Now the author of five novels (her latest just released May 7th), Buxbaum started her career as a Harvard-educated lawyer. But like so many, her initial path took a welcome turn …

The Future of Life and Death

I fully intended not to like this book. YA fantasy is a little out of my wheelhouse, however, it hooked me more than I expected. The whole concept of the book — a future that has eradicated death and therefore tasks certain humans with the job of killing people in the name of population control — was fascinating to me. The first third of the book flew by as Schusterman built this world and introduced us to the main characters. And as much as I was entertained, it was too easy to put down. For some reason that I still can’t put my finger on I wasn’t eager to gobble it up. It did a good job of grappling with difficult questions in way that was accessible, and while it didn’t necessarily answer the questions, they’ve stuck with me. The characters were well developed and relatable, and I liked that the book’s focus wasn’t on a romance (something that happens a little too often in YA, IMO). While the book hinted that Citra and Rowan …

Scythe’s Unanswered Questions

After reading a series of intense fiction and nonfiction books, I was really looking forward to something I could escape into. I’m a fan of the dystopian series I’ve read in the past (The Hunger Games, Divergent, An Ember in the Ashes, etc), and I’m always looking forward to finding another great series. I had moderately high hopes that Scythe might be my next favorite series. I was moderately disappointed. The premise, in my mind, was stellar. A future dystopia masked so well as a utopia that even as the reader I was convinced for most of the 430+ pages that this world could be what it seemed (if it weren’t for the fact that it’s a YA series so of course I know better); a world without natural death, disease or crime. It’s a world where climate change has been reversed and people can “turn a corner” at anytime to reverse their aging and return to youth. In this world all things are supervised by an evolution of the “cloud” known as Thunderhead whose moral …

May & June Book

Spring is here! It reminds us of when we used to look forward to the last day of school… yearbooks, textbook buyback, cleaning out your locker, and putting away the required reading for a good book you could actually choose yourself. And such is our May & June pick, a dystopian young adult novel that’s the first of a new series, and definitely a book we would have chosen as soon as school let out. Scythe tells the story of two teenagers, Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch, who undergo training as they are recruited into the Scythe organization to be society-sanctioned killers. The Scythes: a group of men and women who decide who lives, and who dies. Set in the very distant future, death by natural causes has been virtually eliminated due to the tremendous advances in technology and an advanced computer system that controls society. But overpopulation is still an issue, and that’s where the Scythe organization comes in to choose who to eliminate. With no hunger, no war, no disease, the world seems like …

A Shining Starr

I hate to stay a timely piece. I feel that because a book like this has never NOT been timely. Perhaps its impact is potentially more grand because of the current cultural narrative.  Regardless, I felt this book was everything it was meant to be. One of my favorite scenes in the book is one Kathryn H. referred to – when Starr, Seven, DeVante, and Chris are leaving the riots in the car. The conversation on names and race was one that I felt so delicately touched on the idea of the spectrum of racism. Chris is carefully constructed as a slightly awkward white guy with a level of caring for Starr that I just found so sweet. So when he asks about why black people don’t have “normal” names, was it awkward?  Sure largely because he asked it as gracefully as a dump truck on ice. But was it racist? Kind of, yea…but Starr, Seven, and DeVante go on tell him why that question is grounded in his perceptions of race and answer his question. …

A Promise

Talk about timely. This is maybe the most relevant piece of fiction I have read. And it raised so many questions and thoughts and ideas for me. But the two words that kept coming to the surface were: Required Reading. I like to consider myself an ally. I’m not black, I can’t really begin to understand what it’s like to be black in this country at this time. But I can try and I can be supportive and I can listen and I can walk alongside and I can protest and call for change and do my best to make change happen. All of that and… this book still made me say, “whoa.” It brought up so much that I hadn’t thought of, so many little things that happen every day that I don’t have to think about because of the color of my skin. “It seems like they always talk about what he may have said, what he may have done, what he may not have done. I didn’t know a dead person could …

Worlds Apart

I’d been hearing so many great things about The Hate U Give before we chose it as our March book that I was afraid it might not live up to the hype. But happily, it did. This debut novel by Angie Thomas is about a young black girl struggling through the emotional, cultural, and legal repercussions of witnessing the unarmed shooting of a childhood friend. Starr Carter lives in Garden Heights but goes to school at a fancy prep school far away from home. Worlds apart, in fact. But seeing her story from within these two worlds gave infinite range to the issues Thomas tackles. I think that was my favorite part about the book; the two very environments. It elevated the story beyond a tragedy, or a high school coming-of-age story. It was the story of race, family, justice, injustice, love, the forces that drive us, and how all of those interact… in many different situations. Seeing Starr’s life through the lens of her home and school lives made her story more powerful and …

March Book

The SAG awards, the Golden Globes, and the Academy Awards. It’s awards season! So much talk of the year’s best television series, movies, actors, screenplays, etc. And so many of the best movies started as books. Or at least we think so. So for March, we’re trying to get ahead of the game and read a new book that’s soon to be a new movie favorite. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas was published just last February. This is Thomas’s debut novel, and a huge success. It opened at number one the NYT young-adult bestseller list. Thomas was inspired to write this story after the shooting of Oscar Grant in 2009. What started as a short story quickly evolved into her first novel, and soon a major motion picture coming out this year or early next (directed by George Tillman Jr., written by Audrey Wells, starring Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Anthony Mackie, Russell Hornsby, Algee Smith, Sabrina Carpenter, Issa Rae, Lamar Johnson, and Common). The Hate U Give tells the story of 16-year-old black student Starr Carter who witnesses …

Quick and Uneasy

Salt to the Sea was definitely a quick read, but left me a little uneasy. Honestly, I wish I hadn’t known so much about the fate of the Wihelm Gustoff before reading. Because I knew that this ship, [SPOILER] the end of these fictional characters’ pilgrimage, met a terribly tragic end in real life, I read the entire book at arms-length. I fought attachment to any one story or character for fear I’d be disappointed in the end. I think this sullied my reading of the book a bit, and it’s why I wish I hadn’t known at about the great maritime disaster before picking it up.  So, for any future readers, I’d recommend not reading anything about the historical event this book is based on before you start. I think it would make for a freer (less anxious) reading experience.   “How foolish to believe we are more powerful than the sea or the sky.”   That being said… I did like the book. Although a quick read, I kept postponing my progress. I …