Genre: Realistic Fiction
# of Pages: 264
Age Level: 13 and up
RAC Book: Yes
San Lee has been the new student on many occasions since his family has moved so much. With each new school San would try to create a new image or persona in order to survive, since he is a geeky Asian kid who frequently gets picked on. This time things are a little different because San is now alone with his mother and he is angry with his father for their current situation.
On his first day of school he meets a young lady who calls herself Woody and plays the guitar at lunchtime for money. He decides he wants to get close to her because she seems like someone who could appreciate different and unique people. In his history class they begin talking about Zen Buddhism and before he knows it he has led the class to believe that he has practiced this religion for years. It definitely makes him unique and original, but can he keep it up without hurting his new friends and his mother?
This story uses Zen Buddhism to illustrate how life in most situations, but especially high school, could be improved if people really thought about their actions and words. By using Zen, San basically creates a new way to remind students of how to treat each other and live life to the fullest. Unfortunately, San’s failure to be honest with Woody about his past and true ambitions leads him into trouble. Once again, Sonnenblick has created a realistic high school character who can be selfish and self-serving, while also showing the ability for c0mpassion and friendship. The supporting characters are rich and developed to make the story engaging and even a little inspiring.
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Romance
Age Level: 12 and up
# of pages: 246
RAC Book: Yes
Annisa is a new student at her high school and her first day does not begin well. First, she discovers that she is literally the only brunette female in the entire school. Second, she lives in a house that another girl’s family was evicted from for not paying taxes and she blames Annisa for some reason. Third, she accidently breaks the nose of the most popular girl in school. Later that night she also inadvertently witnesses two cheerleaders getting busted with alcohol, therefore removing them from the competition squad a mere two weeks before the big regional competition.
Still trying to fit in, Annisa decides to try out for one of the two open spots on the cheerleading team. Even though several members of the team hate her for one reason or another she manages to get a spot. Unfortunately, she makes a few mistakes and the rest of the squad starts to fall apart and everyone blames her. She offers the suggestion of starting a prank war with the nearby school to work as a bonding activity. The prank war lands her in more trouble than she could ever imagine. Meanwhile, her neighbor, Daniel, is someone Annisa feels she could be very interested in but of course he is dating her most hated rival, Sage. As time goes on, Sage shows her true colors and eventually loses Daniel. The question is whether or not that means he is interested in Annisa.
This story is filled with ridiculous plots twists and the coincidences that teen movies are made of, but the voices of the characters are interesting and the plot moves at a good pace. Some of the conflicts are worked out much too quickly, which is of course in time for the big cheerleading competition that is two weeks from Annisa’s first day of school. The fast pace of the book is believable, however, because high school conflicts often start and end quickly. Girls who like Meg Cabot books will enjoy this.