Archive for November, 2008

Saturday Night Dirt by Will Weaver

Genre: Sports Fiction

Age Level: 14 and up

# of pages: 163 p.

RAC Book: yes

This story about car racing follows many different characters as they prepare for a night of racing at Headwaters Speedway. Melody Waters is the track manager as well as the daughter of the racetrack owner. The track is in serious financial trouble due to several rained out nights and Melody is determined to make tonight a success despite the rain in the forecast. Trace Bonham is concerned that his car is simply not driving correctly despite his mechanics reassurances that it should be in working order. He starts to worry he may not have what it takes to be a good driver. Beau Kim does not have the money to buy a car of his own and has made one out of parts that have been discarded by other drivers. He hopes to remain competitive even with a car of far lower quality than everyone else’s. The story also focuses on the people who work at the racetrack and some of the fans.

For fans of car racing this book will keep their attention. It moves quickly and has a fair amount of racing action. For readers not familiar with this racing world, however, some of the racing rules and traditions may seem odd or confusing. The different perspectives of the characters are interesting, but none of them get fully introduced to the reader since there are so many that the author juggles. Recommended for fans of car racing, but most other readers will want to keep looking.

Lush by Natasha Friend

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 14 and up

# of Pages: 178 p.

RAC Book: Yes

Samantha struggles with the fact that her father is an alcoholic. He is a successful architect who often comes home late or not at all due to his drinking habits. Her mother is constantly making excuses for him and trying to tell her that everything is okay, but Samantha does not believe this and starts to grow distant from him. After a binge he is always apologetic and promising change, but Sam quickly learns that his word means nothing. Her little brother is young enough that he doesn’t understand what is going on, but Sam tries to protect him from it nonetheless. She begins leaving notes for someone in the library she believes might be able to help her, but the person responding to her notes is not who she thinks it is. As she deals with some bullying at school the situation at home continues to get worse. The worst part is that she starts to wonder if she could have the same tendencies as her father.

Alcoholism is a very serious topic for young adults, but this story relates the topic best to teenagers and what it can be like to live with an alcoholic. This book discusses the warning signs, the symptoms, and even the steps needed to begin overcoming this disease. Having said that, it never gets preachy or gives the impression that something of this nature can be fixed quickly. Communication is stressed as being very important to helping a family member work through this problem. A good book about a serious subject.

Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 13 and up

# of Pages: 338 p.

RAC Book: Yes

Written as an inside story about the famous music group Lemonade Mouth, this book follows the five bandmates and tells the story of how Lemonade Mouth came to be. Wen, Charlie, Mo, Stella, and Olivia were all thrown into detention one fateful day and the idea of a band started to take shape. As they begin to meet after school in the music room, which is located in the dingy basement, they start to realize that anyone who has activities located in this portion of the building (including A-V, choir, band, etc.) start to become labeled as freaks in the high school. Life gets more difficult for them when they get equal playing time to the popular high school band, Mudslide Crush. The members of that band resent having to share school functions and plan to make life difficult for this group of freshmen. Despite all the difficulties, however, Lemonade Mouth soon gains unprecedented popularity and they try to use that popularity toward promoting causes they believe are important.

This story was a surprisingly fun book to read. The idea that five virtual strangers, who often feel like they do not fit in anywhere, can come together and touch the lives of so many of their classmates is inspiring. Their road to success is difficult and often plagued with strife, but they keep trying even when things look hopeless. The main characters all have personal issues to deal with as they navigate high school, but never stop trying to make their way through that difficult time. Over time they realize they do not need to try so hard to survive the pressures and trials of high school when they have each other to lean on. This is a fun, entertaining, and many times surprising book that most readers will really enjoy.

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.

Fabulous Terrible: The Adventures of You by Sophie Talbot

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 12 and up

# of Pages: 231 p.

RAC Book: Yes

This story is told in the second person point of view, which means that the reader is the main character. You have been a foster child for many years and despite finding a great family you thought you would stay with forever, problems began to arise when you began having your visions again. As a child you had had visions or shimmers in which you could see glimpses into the future. Since it seemed to upset people whenever you told anyone, you stopped discussing your visions at a young age. Unfortunately, when the shimmers begin up again it distresses your new family and so you begin looking for boarding schools to attend. You find one called Trumbull Woodhouse, which is a very exclusive all girls school. Once you arrive, you begin noticing that your shimmers are coming faster now and at the same time someone begins to sabotage your every move. Who would want you to get kicked out? Is there any way to stop this person before it’s too late?

The format of this book is very unusual, but makes for a fun story. As the story goes on and very personal attacks are made against the main character, who is “you” in this story, the reader begins to feel as if it is her getting attacked.  The more that is revealed about this school the more intriguing it gets.  There are similarities to this series and the Gemma Doyle series by Libba Bray, but at this time the level of fantasy is very low.  The ending seemed a bit fast, but immediately flows into the next one in the series.  This series will always keep girls wanting more.  Recommended.

Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age level: 14 and up

# of Pages: 276 p.

RAC Book: Yes

Jane, a fifteen year old girl, gets attacked by a shark when her and her family go to the beach one summer day. Despite the fact that there were many people around, the only person to help her was her older brother who pulled her out of the water. Jane ends up having to have her arm amputated, which is extra hard for her because she was a talented artist. The story is told through a variety of poems in which Jane expresses her feelings about every aspect of this catastrophe such as the tape of her getting attacked that was played over and over on the news, the numerous letters she gets from supporters, and even her own feelings about trying to draw again. Jane’s feelings come across as very natural and understandable for a young girl in her position. As time goes on her thoughts reflect her healing process.

This story is honest and compelling in the way it describes how Jane copes with losing a limb in her teenage years. There are many supporting characters who help Jane in her journey to recovery such as her best friends and a young boy who has recently lost a leg that she meets at the hospital. She has a strong support structure around her, but in the end it is up to her to take those important steps toward acceptance. The content is unique for young adult literature and should be very popular among young readers.

Summer Ball by Mike Lupica

Genre: Sports Fiction

Age Level: 12 and up

# of Pages: 244 p.

RAC Book: Yes

In this sequel to Travel Team Danny Walker and his friends go to a summer camp to play basketball for the summer. Danny is nervous from the start because even though their travel team ended up winning the championship there are always people who want to knock you down. When he arrives at the camp he learns that his name was left off the bunk list and he has to room with the younger kids. He takes this news surprisingly well considering the fact that he has issues with people thinking he is younger than he is due to his height. The rival from the championship game, Rasheed, is at camp and they are placed on the same team. Early on in the camp Danny learns that Rasheed and their team coach believe Danny has no place on a basketball court.

Danny Walker has many obstacles in this book considering his success in the previous one. The degree to which his coach dislikes him is amazing considering his ill treatment of Danny begins almost immediately. As Danny struggles with confidence, bullies, and even a homesick younger roommate he considers some drastic measures for escaping but ends up fighting his battles whether her wants to or not. The sports action is as good as ever in this book and fans of sports fiction will enjoy it. The fact that not everyone comes around to Danny’s way of thinking is a good reminder to readers that you will never get along with everyone and you just have to make the best of it. A good sports read.