Posts Tagged 'sisters'

The List by Vivian Siohban

thelist

 

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

333 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

2014-2015 Iowa High School Award Winner

Every year a list is posted the Monday before Homecoming listing the four prettiest and four ugliest girls, one for each grade respectively.  Each chapter follows one of the eight girls and how they cope with the existence of this list.  Danielle, the ugliest freshmen, must deal with the fallout of how her boyfriend handles the news that she was voted on this list.  Meanwhile, Abby, the prettiest freshmen faces possibly not being allowed to go to the dance at all due to grades.  The “ugliest” sophomore is actually a cute, but very mean girl who is deemed “ugliest” on the inside.  The “prettiest” sophomore girl is a girl who has been home-schooled for her entire life and is trying to find independence from her mom with great difficulty.  The prettiest junior, Bridget, feels pressured into an eating disorder in order to maintain her image while the ugliest junior reacts quite strongly and refuses to shower or change her clothes for the entire week after the list comes out.  The ugliest senior is the first ever to earn that particular honor for all four years of high school and she pretends she is totally fine with it.  The prettiest senior feels the pressure to follow in her sister’s footsteps who was the prettiest senior the year before and seemed to fall apart afterward.  Each chapter follows a different girl as she navigates through this very difficult week.

This book has earned many awards for good reason.  This book delves into many serious issues for high school girls including insecurity, the fear of being excluded, worrying about what others think, eating disorders, dating problems, academic trouble, lying, and problems at home.  No one on the list finds happiness no matter which side of the list she is on.  While the circumstances around the list may seem unbelievable, the issues surrounding it are completely believable and exist at every high school.  A great book to recommend to high school girls, especially ones who are having trouble adjusting.

Fathomless by Jackson Pearce

fathomless

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  291

RAC:  Yes

Lo lives in the water as a mermaid type creature with her “sisters” and none of them remember where they came from before living in the water.  There is a myth that if they find a human to fall in love with them and then they kill that person they can take his or her soul and become human again.  They have all tried this, but it’s impossible for anyone to fall in love instantly so they end up murdering innocent people simply because they are so desperate to become human again.  Meanwhile, Celia lives with her two sisters on land and as triplets they have a unique connection.  One sister can see the future of someone by touching them, another can see the present, and Celia can see someone’s past.  This was always viewed as fairly useless, but when Celia meets Lo accidentally one day she realizes she could help her remember who she was before.  If that is possible could Lo become human again?

This book was recommended by a student who really enjoyed it, but it moved very slowly and the pieces of Lo’s past take a long time to reveal themselves.  The ending was a bit exciting, but far too fleeting and the ending is abrupt and uncertain.  It seems it is setting up for a sequel, but the story did not leave me wanting to learn more.  The premise behind this is interesting, but the plot just moves too slowly and not many students will stick with it all the way through.

Winter White by Jen Calonita

Winter-White

Genre:  Romance/Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  356

RAC:  Yes

In this sequel to The Belles, the secret about the true relationship of Isabelle to the Monroes is out and threatening to take down Bill Monroe’s campaign for Senator.  Multiple stories keep coming out about the Monroe’s and everyone is bothered by the fact that there seems to be a mole in their midst selling information to the highest bidder.  Meanwhile, Isabelle and Mirabelle are preparing to become debutantes at their cotillion.  This involves prep classes, dress shopping, and even a hazing ritual.  Isabelle does surprisingly well, but Mirabelle is struggling due to the fact that her former best friend, Savannah, has turned everyone against her and she feels all alone.  Can Mirabelle find a way to stand on her own without trying to please the most popular girls in school?  Can Isabelle survive cotillion training?  Will either girl let their father walk her into the cotillion after the way he lied to them?

This follow up is satisfying picking up right where the last one left off.  The characters are properly growing and developing and we are learning more about the periphery characters as well.  The cotillion preparation was actually fun and interesting as the girls struggle to make it to the big event.  Fans of the series will be eager to see more.

Distant Waves by Suzanne Weyn

Genre:  Historical Fiction

# of Pages:  330

RAC:  Yes

The five Taylor sisters live with their mother in Spirit Vale where she works as a medium who speaks to dead people.  The older sisters, Mimi and Jane, have long doubted their mother’s clairvoyance abilities, but their younger sisters all seem to believe.  The twins even seem to have a special gift of their own.  When their fates all collide together on the Titanic’s maiden voyage, Jane becomes worried when her twin sisters show fear that something bad will befall the ship.  Can all of the sisters survive one of the world’s most famous disasters?

This story weaves true and false facts about the Titanic’s famous fall.  The introduction of the Taylor sisters adds a bit of intrigue as they explore the very popular trend of clairvoyance for the time.  Famous faces make appearances throughout the story and are fun for reader’s to identify.  The motivations of the five sisters are all clear and justified as they each try to find their own way in this world, but the ending is unexpected and not everyone makes it to New York.  Recommended to fans of historical fiction and the Titanic.

The Deadly Sister by Eliot Schrefer

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  310

RAC Book:  Yes

Abby has always looked out for her sister, Maya, but one day when Abby is running and finds the murdered body of Maya’s boyfriend things get a little complicated.  Abby is especially disturbed to find Maya’s cell phone near the body.  She immediately begins thinking of ways that she can either find the real killer or cover it up so that her sister does not get into trouble.  The more she investigates into her wild sister’s life of running away, drug use, and relationships with shady characters, the more Abby realizes that everyone will believe Maya committed this crime.  Does she believe Maya committed this crime?  Can she find a way to keep her sister out of jail?

This mystery will keep a lot of readers guessing all the way until the true killer is revealed.  Abby’s actions often go above and beyond to try and find ways to help Maya, and some readers might question what she is truly willing to do in order to protect her sister.  The family dynamic of the two girls and their parents is complicated and difficult, which makes this tragedy harder for them to deal with and comprehend.  There are some hard truths in this mystery and none of the characters are angels by any means, which makes it difficult for the reader to decide who they are rooting for.  The story is intriguing and will keep mystery lovers reading to the very final reveal.

My Ultimate Sister Disaster by Jane Mendle

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  198

RAC:  Yes

Franny feels like her life is too ordinary and that she has no special talents.  Her sister, Zooey, meanwhile is one of the best ballerinas at her elite ballet school and has just been offered the role of a lifetime playing Juliet in an upcoming production.  Franny secretly likes her newspaper editor and desperately wants to write a valuable article for the paper.  Things do not work out well for either sister when Zooey breaks her leg and is sidelined from the performance and Franny’s debut article is rejected by her crush.  The two are forced to spend more time together than they have in years and they learn that they have many misunderstandings regarding each other.  Can they find a way for them to co-exist without one of them feeling less than worthy?

This story sounds simple, but the characters draw the reader in.  Even readers who do not have siblings will be able to identify with that person that seems to have everything together while they do not.  Everyone has that person and this book really shows that no one has a perfect life and everyone thinks someone else has a better life than they do.  There is also a bit of romance and some lighthearted drama in the book that young high schoolers will enjoy.  Recommended for readers who enjoy Sarah Dessen novels.

Three Black Swans by Caroline B. Cooney

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  276

RAC Book:  Yes

Missy and Claire are cousins who are extremely close.  They have sleepovers every weekend and talk to each other constantly.  They also have a strong “family resemblance” that their parents are always trying to explain away.  Missy is two months younger and until recently was always smaller than Claire so she never let herself believe they might be more than cousins, but one day she realizes that the resemblance is too much to be ignored.  She convinces Claire to come on the morning announcements show at Missy’s school to pretend to be long lost identical twins. She tells Claire it will be an elaborate hoax, but she really believes it will force everyone to face the situation.  The problem is that when the video goes viral on the Internet another girl comes forward who looks just like them too.  Who is she and how did they get separated?

Fans of Caroline B. Cooney will enjoy this story as the lives of three young girls find themselves intertwined.  Many questions arise such as who are their real parents? Why have they been lied to this whole time?  Are they really sisters?  The three girls are entertaining and easy to identify with, but the three sets of parents are characterized well too and their motivations for questionable actions ring true.  The ending was satisfying and will leave readers wanting to read more titles by Cooney.

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  400

RAC Book:  Yes

2010 Iowa High School Book Award

Jena and her four sisters use a secret portal to sneak into the woods to dance with the magical creatures every full moon.  When Jena’s father gets ill and is sent away to recover, she is left in charge and her cousin Cezar begins to take over.  Cezar believes that women are frail and need to be looked after by men.  As Jena struggles to take care of her sisters, their home, and her father’s business she always has her best friend, Gogu, by her side.  Gogu is a talking frog that only she can hear.  As Cezar becomes frantic trying to control the five sisters, Jena starts to worry that all is not well in the wildwoods either.  Can she protect her sisters and everyone else she cares about from a power hungry dictator?

This fantasy story begins a little slowly as the characters are introduced, but accelerates quickly as the family battles Cezar on a daily basis.  There are some twists and turns along the way, but a few are fairly easy to predict.  The end will leave readers wanting more.  Highly recommended for fantasy lovers.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley

Genre:  Mystery/Historical Fiction

# of Pages:  384

RAC Book:  Yes

Flavia de Luce lives in England in the 1950s.  Her mother died when she was a baby and her father is a recluse in their country manor.  She has two older sisters, Daphne and Ophelia, who enjoy tormenting her.  Flavia loves to work in her own chemistry lab and is always asking questions, to the annoyance of her sisters.

One evening she is awakened when she hears someone arguing with her father in his study, but the gardener catches her listening at the door and sends her to bed.  In the morning, Flavia finds a dying man in their garden and calls the police.  Unfortunately, they arrest her father for the murder and Flavia is not completely sure of his innocence since this is the man who was arguing with her father the night before.  Nevertheless, Flavia decides to go after the truth and begins investigating herself.  Can she piece together the facts to find out what happened to the mysterious stranger from the garden?  Can she clear her father’s name?

This story is a fun mystery story with very colorful and interesting characters.  The tone of the book and style of the mystery  is reminiscent of Blue Balliett’s Chasing Vermeer.  There are many details of the story that the reader needs to remember in order to crack the case, which is reminiscent of The Westing Game.  Finally, the main character is captivating, clever, and a strong female character, reminiscent of Down the Rabbit Hole.  The story has all of the ingredients to be a lasting mystery for this age level for many years to come.

Envy by Anna Godbersen

Genre:  Historical Fiction/Romance

# of Pages:  405

RAC Book:  Yes

In this sequel to Rumors Elizabeth and Diana Holland are still reeling from the shocking murder of Elizabeth’s husband, Will, as well as the surprising wedding of Diana’s beloved Henry to Penelope.  Elizabeth refuses to be seen in public despite the urging of her mother who wants her to get back into society.  Diana is refusing to receive any correspondence from Henry as he tries to explain his behavior.  Eventually, Diana relents and believes his reasons for marrying Penelope, but quickly realizes that it is unlikely they will ever be together.  As hard as Henry pulls away from the marriage, Penelope finds ways to force him back in and eventually they must face off in order to see if the marriage will last.  Meanwhile, Lina must find a way to hold onto her newly acquired status and is surprised at what lengths she will go to in order to live in the same circles as the Holland sisters.  Finally, as Elizabeth deals with her unending sadness over losing Will she starts to wonder if there might not be another reason for her poor health.

This third installment of the Luxe series picks up where Rumors left off and reveals everyone’s motivations as they struggle to keep what they want in this elite Manhattan society.  The ending again packs a punch as two main characters make surprising choices.  Readers will look forward to the fourth installment when it will be revealed if any of these characters will actually get to be happy in this difficult society.

Pretty Tough by Liz Tigelaar

Genre:  Sports Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  246

RAC Book:  Yes

Krista and Charlie are two sisters who do not get along in any way.  Krista strives to be perfect and adored at all times, while Charlie seems determined to be a loner.  The story changes perspective between the two sisters which allows the reader to understand where both girls are coming from.  Krista has a lot of insecurities which she tries to compensate for by looking perfect on the outside.  Charlie feels her sister and everyone else in school failed to stand up for her in the past and does not have time for them now.

Everything begins to change when  a new soccer coach, Martie, decides to make girls soccer great again.  She recruits Charlie, a strong athlete, which annoys Krista because she feels like Charlie is taking the spotlight away from her for her senior year.  Charlie tries out purely to annoy Krista and has no intention of staying on the team, but finds she enjoys actually fitting in somewhere.

This book covers many issues like high school life, friendship, sports, and sisters.  Both sisters learn a lot through their time together on the soccer field and come to appreciate each other in new ways.  This change in their relationship is not easy, however, and they have to jump many hurdles in order to be able to play well together.  Of course there are also romantic moments in this teen story.  A good story for girls and athletes who enjoy this type of writing.

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  14 and up

# of pages:  371

RAC Book:  Yes

Annabel Greene is beginning her senior year with a sense of dread.  She is afraid that no one will talk to her and she will have no friends, which is exactly what ends up happening.  She eats her lunch alone and the school outcast is the only one who will even come near her.  Her former best friend has now turned everyone in the school against her based on something that happened early in the summer that is not revealed for a long time.

Annabel has two older sisters, one who is currently taking classes in New York, and one who is at home recuperating from an eating disorder.  At one time all of these girls worked as models, but now Annabel is the only one who still does it.  As she realizes she would like to end her modeling career, she also realizes that this will be yet another thing she keeps inside and doesn’t tell anyone.  Annabel does not like to upset people or disappoint anyone, so therefore never tells anyone what she truly thinks or feels.

Owen is the outcast who sits with her at lunch and eventually they begin talking.  He has a radio show in which he plays very untraditional music.  He demands honesty at all times and Annabel begins to think he might be someone she could really confide in.  The question is whether or not she will let herself actually tell anyone about what happened on that fateful summer day that forever changed her life.  This story is well written and will be a favorite with many teenagers.  This book encourages teenagers to take control of their lives in order to plan what they want to do in the future instead of what their parents’ plan for them.  In today’s society it can be difficult to break away from a parent’s protective guidance.  Recommended.

 

The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Romance

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  306

RAC Book:  Yes

Alice spends every summer at her family’s summer house on Fire Island hanging out with her older sister, Riley, and the next door neighbor boy, Paul.  Riley and Paul have been best friends since they were kids and Alice always tagged along.  Now that they are in their early twenties they decide to spend another summer there to try and recapture some of their youth.  Alice and Riley have not seen Paul for three years so both feel a little anxious, but for very different reasons.

After Riley contracts strep throat she accidentally forgets her medication on the beach and when she goes to retrieve it finds Alice and Paul in a compromising position.  As Alice and Paul become involved romantically they feel guilty leaving Riley behind.  Riley was always the leader when they were kids and in many ways has never changed while everyone else has grown up.   Due to the fact that Riley never found her strep throat pills, it develops into rheumatic heart disease.  Riley insists that Alice let her tell Paul about her condition herself, but neglects to do so for many months.  Since Alice has sworn not to tell Riley’s secret it drives a wedge between her and Paul.  Alice also gives up her plans for law school and stays home to help take care of Riley.

This is a story about sisters, family, friendship, and love.  However, many of the ways these characters go about showing their love makes the reader wonder if they really love each other at all.  Alice and Paul feel so bad about betraying Riley by getting romantically involved that they actually feel like they brought on Riley’s illness by not telling her.  Riley knows about their romance but doesn’t tell them because she doesn’t want to be left out if they make up.  Riley also fails to tell Paul about her disease even though she knows it’s the reason they broke up.  The motivations of the characters often seem unreasonable and selfish at times.  There are a lot of issues and emotions dealt with, just like many of Brashares books, but readers looking for another Traveling Pants series will be disappointed.  

 



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