Archive for March, 2012

Bunheads by Sophie Flack

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Romance

# of Pages: 294

RAC:  Yes

Hannah has been a dancer at an elite Ballet company for many years and was completely fine dedicating so much of her life to it.  After meeting a musician in a restaurant, however, she began to realize how much she has given up for her dancing and she is not even a solo dancer.  Can she accept the fact that she has dedicated herself so strongly to something she may never reach the top at?  Can she bring herself to walk away after so many years of hard work to pursue something else she may not even like?

This story allows readers to see what it is like to be a dancer in a ballet company.  There are numerous rehearsals, fittings, physical therapy sessions, nutrition experts, etc. that are constantly ruling how the dancers should live.  They are simply expected to give up any kind of outside life in order to succeed in this difficult field.  Hannah is unusual in that she begins to think about life outside of the studio and is not sure she is up for the challenge of doing what it takes to get promoted.  On the other hand, whenever she sees other girls get promoted over her she feels jealous and hurt.  Is she meant to be a solo ballerina or merely a background dancer?  Readers interested in dancing, the arts, or romance will enjoy this book wholeheartedly.

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  356

RAC:  Yes

Emma and Josh are high school kids in 1996 when the story begins.  Emma gets her first computer and hooks it up to AOL only to receive the bonus Facebook.  She finds her username and password for AOL work on Facebook and is shocked to find that she is looking at her own profile in 15 years.  When she tells Josh, her estranged best friend, he finds a profile of himself as well.  To say their futures are not what they expected is an understatement.  Emma is especially disappointed in her future and vows to make decisions that will permanently change it.  Josh is not necessarily disappointed in his future, but a bit confused as to how he gets there.  As they begin noticing that little changes affect their future profiles they both need to think hard about what they want in their futures.  Can they come to terms with their possible futures or do they want to make big changes that might help them get closer to where they hoped to be?

The relationship between Josh and Emma is complex at best due to the romantic rejection Josh felt when he tried to tell her he wanted to be more than friends.  Despite the slight distance that has grown between them they still share a connection, which is why they get so jealous when they see the other person in a romantic relationship.  The idea of getting a glimpse of the future is intriguing, especially to teens who are making those big decisions such as where to go to college.  The references to 1996 are humorous, even if many are lost on current teenagers.  The overall story moves quickly and will engage many young readers.  Fans of romance and realistic fiction will enjoy this title.

Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages: 391

RAC:  Yes

Nora is paired with Patch in science class and always feels a bit uncomfortable around him, especially since he seems to turn up wherever she is.  The more time she spends with him, however, the more drawn she feels to him.  Her best friend and the school counselor warn her he is dangerous and shouldn’t be trusted, but she cannot help but feel like she is in fact safe with him.  Meanwhile, another new boy has come to her school, Elliot, and he is determined to befriend her.  While Nora’s best friend thinks Elliot is wonderful Nora cannot help feel like something is a bit sinister with him.  After a series of bizarre events in which Nora either hallucinated or someone is purposefully messing with her, she must decide which boy would be taunting her with dangerous situations.  Is her life actually in danger and why?

This story is yet another fallen angel romance, but somehow still finds a way to be unique and interesting.  Patch and Elliot both have reasons to hurt Nora, yet they both seem genuine at times when they want to befriend her.  While Nora’s mother is absent for an enormous part of the book and her best friend seems to make the worst choices ever, Nora seems to take things in stride despite the fact that she finds herself in severe danger over and over.  The ending provides some answers, but there is still a lot readers will want to know as this fantasy romance unfolds.  Fans of Unearthly, Fallen,  and Halo will enjoy this title as well.

Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins

Genre:  Realistic Fiction
# of Pages:  270

RAC Book:  Yes

Chiko and Tu Reh live very different lives in modern day Burma, but are forced to make tough decisions through circumstances beyond their control.  Chiko has always been raised to study and read and therefore does not have the strength or skills to fight in an army. He is forced to be a soldier by his government anyway, however.  He must learn quickly what it takes to survive in a far off camp away from everyone and everything he has ever known.  Tu Reh remembers when the Burmese soldiers burned down his family’s home and left their village in despair.  He is surprised when his father chooses to show an injured soldier mercy and must come to grips with the decision he ultimately decides to make.  Can either boy survive to reach adulthood in this war torn country?  Will they ever find the strength to make those tough decisions?

This book will feel like a historical fiction book to many students because it can be hard to believe that teenagers their age really live this way in the modern world.  That is why it is important for any student reading this book to know that this is what modern day Burma is like.  Teenagers are struggling to feed and protect their families and have had to change their ultimate goals in life accordingly.  These two characters accurately portray the different cultures that are currently at war in Burma and how young people are in a fight they do not understand.  Their motivations, frustrations, and individual feelings are truly illustrated for the reader and will leave the reader with a better understanding of what it is like to be a teenager in Burma at this time.  Recommended for class or individual reading assignments.  Teachers are encouraged to discuss Burma in some detail with any student who reads this so that he or she can properly understand the accuracy of the depiction.