Posts Tagged 'death'



Numbers by Rachel Ward

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  325

RAC Book:  No

Jem has always seen numbers when she looks directly into people’s eyes, but she never knew what they meant.  When her mother overdoses and dies, Jem realizes that the numbers she sees spell out the day a person will die.  Naturally, Jem tries not to get close to anyone or look directly into their eyes because she cannot bear knowing such important information.  A boy named Spider tries to befriend her anyway, and Jem finds herself wanting to spend time with him, even though she knows his death day is mere weeks away.  Can she change his fate?

This story has an interesting premise, but drags in places and many readers will struggle to get through it.  The ending is fast paced and interesting, but the journey to get there may lose some readers along the way.  Jem’s character seems flat and uninteresting until the end when she accepts her role in life.  This was a clever idea, but only somewhat realized through the story.

The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  281

RAC Book:  Yes

Alona is arguing with someone on her cell phone when she fails to look before she crosses a street and is killed by a school bus.  She dies, but does not go to heaven as she expects.  Instead, she remains around her high school and finds she can see how everyone is coping with her death.  To her dismay, her high school did not come to a screeching halt merely because its most popular girl died.  She begins to get frustrated because she doesn’t know how to get to heaven, but then she realizes that the weird goth kid, Will Killian, can see and hear her.  She makes it her mission to make him help her get to the other side, but Will needs some favors of his own.  Can the two overcome their differences to work together and find happy outcomes for both?

This is a fun, light story with some very real problems in it.  Alona was the popular girl of the class, but that did not mean her life was perfect and Will soon finds that she hid some very serious problems from her classmates.  Meanwhile, Will is struggling with his gift of seeing the dead and worries he might end up like his father who had shared the same gift.  There is a bit of swearing, but it won’t be anything most high school students aren’t used to hearing.  The message of the story is clear and readers will move through the fast paced story quickly.  The ending is a little unclear, but overall it was an enjoyable read.

The Everafter by Amy Huntley

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Romance

# of pages:  245 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

Madison wakes up in a strange reality she calls “is” because there’s no way to describe it.  She believes she is dead because she can’t feel a body, but she does see objects in the space around her.  If she touches an object she is brought back to her life through a memory of when she lost that item.  She quickly realizes that she does not have memories past the age of 17 and knows she died young, but cannot remember how.  As she tries to navigate through the memories of her life she realizes she is not the only spirit lingering in those memories.  Will she ever be able to talk to anyone from her life?  Will she ever find out how she died?  Can she ever move past this place of “is” to the everafter?

This book was engaging, unique, and interesting.  As Madison moves through the memories of her life the reader cannot help but think about how she will meet her untimely demise.  Despite the fact that the reason behind her death is set up throughout the story, it will be a shock to most readers the way it actually happens.  Madison’s friendships and family relationships are easy to identify with and it’s hard to imagine how they must cope with her death.  Madison, however, believes that everyone dies when they are supposed to go and it’s okay, but she would like to know how it happens.  She feels no regret about how she lived or died.  This is a very interesting read that will leave the reader thinking about life and death long after the final page.

Lipstick Apology by Jennifer Jabaley

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Romance

# of Pages:  321

RAC Book:  Yes

Emily throws a party when her parents are out of town and is not expected to be caught by her Aunt Jolie.  Jolie is not there to keep an eye on Emily, however.  Instead, she is there to inform Emily that her parents’ plane has crashed and her parents have in fact died.  As Emily tries to cope with the loss of her parents, it is only made worse by the discovery of an airplane tray in the wreckage with the words “Emily Please Forgive Me” written on it in her mother’s favorite shade of lipstick.  As Emily struggles to understand what her mother is apologizing for, she is moved to NYC to live with her aunt where she has to begin a new school and try to make new friends.  As Emily tries to navigate dating, high school, and friendships, she can’t help but keep trying to figure out what her mother’s apology meant and if she will ever find out the truth.

This book starts out very dramatic and really draws readers in.  It then moves into a typical teenage book with a new school, bullying, boyfriends who cheat, etc.  Emily’s life is interesting because her aunt is a famous make-up artist, which seems to give her an edge as she enters this posh lifestyle she is not used to.  As interesting as Emily’s new life is, the real draw for this book is the mysterious apology her mother left for her.  Readers will not be disappointed when the reason behind this apology is revealed.  Overall, this is a fun teenage book with romance and mystery.

The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  522

RAC:  Yes

CeeCee Wilkes is a sixteen-year-old girl whose mother died when she was twelve.  Now she is a high school graduate and living on her own trying to support herself as a waitress.  She hopes to save enough money to go to college one day.  Her favorite regular customer, Timothy Gleason, is rich and handsome, so she is thrilled when he shows some interest in her.  Soon they are dating and she feels she is in love with him and finally has a place to belong.  When he tells her his sister is on death row for a murder that was self defense, CeeCee finds herself helping in a scheme to get her freed.  Timothy and his brother plan to kidnap the governor’s wife in order to get him to release their sister.  Meanwhile, CeeCee is supposed to watch the hostage while the negotiations go down.  What CeeCee doesn’t count on is the fact that the governor’s wife is 8 months pregnant with a high risk pregnancy.  When the stress of the situation leads her to go into labor early, CeeCee does not know what to do or where to go and the situaiton quickly escalates out of control.  Once the baby is born, CeeCee is unable to stop the bleeding and the woman dies.   CeeCee knows that her life will never be the same again and she has some very difficult decisions to make.  Will she ever see Timothy again?  Will she have to change her name?  Will she have to go to jail for her role in this crime?  What will happen to the baby?

For readers who enjoy Jodi Picoult, Anita Shreve, or similar authors this would be a good story.  It delves into the emotions and motivations of the characters while following an interesting story.  Readers will come to care about what happens to CeeCee and the baby despite the terrible circumstances that bring them together.  The ideas of taking responsibility for one’s actions and second chances are pronounced throughout the story.  The plot will keep readers thinking about justice long after finishing the book.

Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  12 and up

# of Pages:  289

RAC Book:  Yes

Award Winner:  Iowa Teen Award 2009-2010

Jeremy Fink still mourns the loss of his father five years ago, which is why he is so happy when his father sends him a wooden box for his thirteenth birthday.  A lawyer had been holding it for him all this years.  The box claims to have the meaning of life in it, but requires four keys to open and unfortunately, they are lost.  As Jeremy and his best friend, Lizzy try to find the keys they end up meeting a lot of interesting people and Jeremy becomes very interested in their views of the meaning of life and what everyone’s purpose is on earth.  As the journey goes on Jeremy wonders if he is meant to open the box or if he is supposed to learn the meaning of life for himself.

Jeremy Fink’s story seems rather simple at first, but as the story evolves the reader sees that there are in fact many layers to this story as Jeremy learns about himself and all of the people he has developed relationships with.  The characters are interesting in a way that they are easily remembered and the reader cares what they have to say to Jeremy and Lizzy as they go on their quest.  The ending was very satisfying and leaves the reader thinking about Jeremy’s quest and his final conclusions.  Highly recommended for anyone from junior high to adulthood.

Invisible by Pete Hautman

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  149 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

Award Winner:  Iowa Teen Award 2009-2010

Doug Hanson is the social outcast of the school.  He has trouble interacting with people, he spies on the prettiest girl in school, and he spends all his time building a train set in his basement.  His parents make him go to counseling even though he doesn’t think he needs it.  The most important thing to him in life is his best friend, Andy, who lives next door.  Doug admits that they have gotten into trouble together in the past, but he doesn’t like to think of those times.  Doug sees Andy as everything he is not.  He plays sports, has lots of friends, and even performs in school plays while Doug fails to interact at school at all.  Doug begins to realize that people including his teachers, parents, and therapist are deeply worried about him.  The question is whether they have a right to be.

There is an aspect of this story that is not immediately apparent, but becomes so fairly quickly.  Most readers will be able to pick up on it early on in the book, which may or may not entice them to keep reading.  It is unclear if this plot element is supposed to be apparent to the reader early on or it if it supposed to be a surprise at the end.  Either way, it is a plot development that has been used quite a big in movies and television.  The character development is strong in this book, but some of their motives seem confusing.  For example, if Doug’s parents are so concerned about his behavior why don’t they try to do more to help him before it is too late?  Readers who liked Laurie Halse Anderson’s Twisted will like this title as well.

Blind Faith by Ellen Wittlinger

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  12 and up

# of Pages:  280 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

Liz’s grandmother, Bunny, dies before the book begins and Liz watches as her mother sinks further and further into a depression.  Liz and everyone else loved Bunny too, but she feels helpless as she watches her mother withdraw from everything important to her.  Meanwhile, the mean old lady across the street has some new visitors.  Liz learns that these visitors are her estranged daughter who is very sick and her two children.  Nathan is about Liz’s age and extremely angry about the fact that his mother is dying.  Courtney is younger and no one seems to want to tell her the true prognosis of her mother’s condition.  As Liz struggles with everything around her the one constant is her love of the piano.  She finds that playing the piano can help her cope with anything, but can she help those around her find their own ways of coping?

This story about life and death reaches out to everyone.  It illustrates how differently people handle loss and how all of their relationships are affected by it.  It also shows how important it is to communicate with people you care about, whether it be during a difficult or easy time.  When people fail to communicate with each other about anything it can cause tension and lead to bigger problems later on.

Losing Forever by Gayle Friesen

friesen_losing

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 13 and up

# of Pages: 247 p.

RAC Book: yes

Jes is struggling with every aspect of her life. She is still dealing with the death of her younger sister and subsequent divorce of her parents. Meanwhile, her mother is engaged to be married again and her new fiancee has brought his teenage daughter to live in Jes’s room. Jes’s best friend is smitten with her new boyfriend, which makes Jes feel unneeded and forgotten. Everyone keeps trying to include her in their plans, but she doesn’t feel like she belongs anywhere anymore. Can she ever communicate her feelings to those she loves without alienating everyone around her?

This story appears very simple, but resonates with many teenagers who feel like life is passing them by while they try to make sense of what is around them. Teenagers go through many changes with friends and family and often need time to process and adjust to all of these changes. This story finds an audience and conveys a story that the audience can truly relate to. Life is never easy and people often respond to major life changes in different ways. It’s important for young adults to have characters like this one to read about in order to better understand their own feelings about major life changes.

Deadline by Chris Crutcher

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 15 and up

# of Pages: 316 p.

RAC list: No

Ben Wolf finds out that he is dying when he goes for his cross country physical the summer before his senior year. He decides not to tell anyone so that he can try to live as normal a life as possible with the time he has left. The doctor cannot tell his parents because Ben is 18 and threatens to sue him. Ben joins the football team instead of the cross country team in order to play one season with his slightly younger brother, the star quarterback. He also goes after the girl he has admired for a long time. As time goes on, and Ben feels the aggressive blood disease catching up with him he begins to question his decision not to tell anyone. He wonders if they will forgive him in the end. Namely, he worries about his brother, father, and mother, who suffers from a bi-polar condition.

A powerful story with a lot of unnecessary language choices. Ben’s decision on how to live out the remainder of his life is an interesting reaction to finding out his illness. Deep down he always felt he would die young and even though he was scared, his desire to live life to the fullest is refreshing and provides all of us with a guide to live by. Many things that happened to him in his senior year would never have happened had he not known he was dying and put himself out there. Hopefully, young readers will feel inspired by this book and try to go after what they want as hard as Ben does. Crutcher once again tackles the difficult issues in a way that teens, especially boys, can relate to.

Origin by Diana Abu-Jaber

Genre: Mystery

Age Level: 14 and up

# of pages: 384 p.

RAC Book: Yes

Lena Dawson is a fingerprint analyst who is known for being very thorough and a bit of a loner. She is famous for cracking some difficult cases in the past and is therefore not surprised when a distraught mother approaches her about the unusual circumstances surrounding her infant son’s death. His case is one of several in the past few months that was ruled a SIDS death. Lena begins to get suspicious, but isn’t sure if she wants to delve into this complicated and difficult case. Many of her co-workers believe the only reason it is coming to light now is because the last victim’s family has connections to some major political officials. At the same time, Lena is dealing with a difficult marriage separation and the realization that she has been pushing people away for some time. This case stirs some uneasy feelings about her own past before she came to be adopted, but she feels she must solve the case in order to move past her own issues.

Mystery lovers will enjoy the story about the infant deaths because it continues to evolve and develop right up until the end. Lena’s own hidden past seems a little too contrived and unbelievable. Once she discovers the truth it seems unlikely that it would have been kept from her in the first place due to the fact that not knowing led her imagination to create unimaginable memories that she came to accept as real. The character of Lena and her co-workers seem flat and uninteresting at times. If the characters had been more interesting the story may have moved along more quickly. Mystery readers will enjoy, but will find it slow.

Enter Three Witches by Caroline B. Cooney

Genre: Shakespeare retelling

Age Level: 14 and up

# of Pages: 281 p.

RAC Book: Yes

Lady Mary is living with Lord and Lady Macbeth until the war ends and she can officially marry her betrothed. Life is pretty good for Mary as she has money and land attached to her name, but things change dramatically when the king finds her father was actually fighting against him and is therefore executed as a traitor. Suddenly she has lost everything she ever had. Things only get worse when someone murders the current king and suddenly Mary is at the mercy of the very people who used to be her guardians: the Macbeths.

Enter Three Witches is a retelling of Shakespeare’s MacBeth in which a plot between a husband and wife to get everything they want starts to unravel once they have what they desired. In this story there are characters from all stations in life from the scullery maid to the nobles. There are many characters who find they have been deceived by someone they have trusted. Many also lose or gain status in mere moments as traitors are sought out and persecuted. This complicated tale of suspense, romance, revenge, and deceit remind all of us how complex and interesting Shakespeare’s stories were. This retelling also makes Shakespeare a bit more appealing to younger readers.

November Blues by Sharon M. Draper

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 14 and up

# of Pages: 316 p.

RAC Book: Yes

In this sequel to The Battle of Jericho November Nelson is dealing with the death of her boyfriend after a hazing ritual went bad. To make matters worse, she discovers that she is pregnant. She was planning to spend the summer in an Ivy League summer program which would hopefully lead to a very productive senior year. When she tells her mother about her pregnancy she is understandably upset. November faces a lot of difficult decisions as she endures this pregnancy.

Meanwhile, Jericho, the cousin of the boy who died, is having an equally difficult time coping with his friend’s untimely death. He decides to try football in order to have something new to do instead of the band, which he previously loved but now feels is a painful reminder of his cousin. He tries to help November in any way he can, but is struggling with his own emotions as well.

This was a good story about teenage pregnancy and death, but addresses similar concepts to The First Part Last. The characters were complicated and interesting and were the strength of the story. Nothing these characters were dealing with was easy and was not portrayed that way. The ending took an unexpected turn, but was a little predictable nonetheless. Most readers will guess what November’s decision will be, but will enjoy it anyway.

 

Listen! by Stephanie S. Tolan

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 12 and up

# of Pages: 197 p.

RAC Book: Yes

2008 Iowa Teen Award Winner

Twelve-year-old Charley is still recovering from a car accident in which her leg was badly hurt. As she struggles to walk with a cane around the lake near her house she finds a wild dog whom she names Coyote. Charley makes it her mission to tame Coyote and keep him as a personal friend. She feels they have a connection and she needs a friend for the summer since her best friend went off to tennis camp.

Listen is a slow moving story about a girl coping with the death of her mother and then a traumatic accident of her own in which she spent many months rehabilitating from. Coyote helps her to come to terms with everything she has lost as well as finding how to move on. Animal lovers will enjoy this book because it accurately illustrates how animals and humans can help each other heal. A good story, but many students may find it too slow without enough action to keep them intrigued and engaged.

Red Kayak by Priscilla Cummings

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 12 and up

# of Pages: 208 p.

RAC Book: Yes

2008 Iowa Teen Award Winner

Brady loves living so close to the Chesapeake Bay. His father is a crab and oyster fisherman and he has two best friends, Digger and J.T. One day Brady sees the neighbor’s red kayak out before the boys go to school. He debates whether to yell and tell them it’s too dangerous to be out, but his friends convince him they will be fine. Brady is pulled out of school by his father later that morning because the kayak never returned and it contained the neighbor and her son. Brady had babysat for Ben and wanted to help find him.

As the search and rescue teams start heading off down the river Brady learns that the woman was found but was in shock. By chance he finds Ben and tries to resuscitate him while driving the boat back to the ambulance. By the time he gets there they have a pulse and Brady is hailed as a hero for the rest of the day. Things begin to go terribly wrong, however, when he starts to suspect that the kayak sinking was no accident and wonders how he should proceed.

This book was captivating in the way the story was revealed and in how it was explained. Brady faces one difficult decision after another and must decide who he should protect and who he should hurt. His father helps him decide that finding the right decision is easy, it’s just hard to act on it. This book will be a hit with teen boys due to its short and to the point nature, as well as for its interesting content. It would be good for classroom discussions on responsibility and making choices that will affect the rest of your life and many other people’s lives as well.



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