Posts Tagged 'abuse'

I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

i am the messenger

 

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  357

RAC:  Yes

Ed Kennedy has zero goals or aspirations for life.  He works as a cab driver, lives with an old dog, and plays card games with his three underachieving friends.  After witnessing the worst bank robbery he’s ever seen, Ed manages to help catch the robber sheerly by luck.  Afterward, he is given quite a bit of notoriety, but more importantly he receives a playing card with three names on it.  He quickly realizes that he needs to find ways to help the people named on the card and some are much more difficult than others.  Each person changes Ed a little bit and he begins to wonder how many names there will be.  He has evidence that someone is watching him to see if he is completing his tasks, but who?  What is the purpose of these little missions?

This powerful story makes you think about the choices you make everyday.  Ed never planned on making much of himself simply because he didn’t think he had any real potential or skills.  These missions help him to learn that he can indeed make a difference in many ways.  What is he meant to do?  His friends are no more motivated than he is, but as he continues his journey he begins to discover that they all have secrets of their own.  There is some sexual references and mild language, but the story will leave you thinking about the character and the message for days to come.

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Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

eleanor and park

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Romance

# of Pages:  325

RAC:  Yes

Park is a half Asian student who lives in a tough neighborhood of thugs and bullies, but has always managed to stay under the radar.  Eleanor is a new student who has bright red curly hair and is a bit overweight.  She immediately becomes a target for the bullies at school and Park takes pity on her and allows her to share his seat on the bus.  They do not talk at first, but eventually they start sharing music and comics.   Eleanor never talks about home, however, and as their friendship begins to shift toward a more romantic relationship Park begins to understand why she never discusses her family.  Can Park protect her from the bullies in her life?  Does he have the courage to do so?

This powerful modern day romance will connect with John Green fans who enjoy unique and truly memorable characters.  There are many interesting descriptions used and information about both Eleanor and Park is revealed through surprising and yet realistic means so that the reader truly learns certain pieces of information at the exact moment that it occurs to the character.  Highly recommended.

The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande

distance

Genre:  Biography

# of Pages:  322

RAC:  Yes

Reyna Grande was born in Mexico and when she was very young her father left for the U.S. in the hopes of making his dreams come true and providing a better life for his family.  A few years later, he sent for their mother and Reyna and her siblings were heartbroken to be left behind.  Over the years they endured neglect and abuse at the hands of family.  Eventually, their father returned and agreed to sneak them across the border.  Reyna was only in 5th grade at this time and had a tough time keeping up, but they were able to get across and begin school.  By now her parents had split up and she was living with the father she hardly knew and his new woman.  Life was still not perfect as she struggled to make her father proud and nothing she did ever seemed to bring any reaction except harsh criticism or beatings.  Will she ever manage to achieve her goal of going to college and becoming a writer or are there too many environmental roadblocks in her way?

This true story is very powerful and accurate depicting the lives of many immigrants to the U.S.  and their families who are often separated for years at a time while they are trying to immigrate.  The description of life in Mexico also helps readers understand why so many people were immigrating to the U. S. and leaving families behind.  There are many disappointments for Reyna and her siblings, but she never loses hope and never lets go of her dreams.

Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach

Genre:  Sports Fiction

# of Pages:  311

RAC Book:  Yes

While taking the physical fitness test in his P.E. class, Felton discovers that in less than a year he has grown several inches, gained muscle, and become what he describes as stupid fast.  His classmates immediately notice and he is recruited to the track and football teams.  Felton is a bit worried about becoming a jock since these were the same people who used to pick on him, but he does like the idea of having an activity to keep him busy.  His mother has started to detach from Felton and his younger brother and as time goes on the worse the situation becomes.  She stops buying food or taking care of them in any way.  Felton distracts himself from the fighting and neglect of his home life by throwing himself into his training, but there is a bully there he must deal with as well.  Can he face the difficult home life for the sake of his little brother?  Can he overcome everyone’s doubt that he can truly become a great athlete?

Felton’s story is a good sports story for those who like to read about sports.  However, there is a lot of focus on his home life and the developing relationship between Felton and a neighborhood girl.  The fights between Felton and his mother can get a bit heated at times and some tough language is used, which might turn off some younger readers.  The eventual explanation of his mother’s abandonment is unique and satisfying.  Recommended for sports and/or reluctant readers.

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  373

RAC:  Yes

Calli is a seven-year-old girl who has been unable to speak since she witnessed a terrible incident years before.  Her best friend, Petra, understands her without words and they do everything together.  One morning both girls disappear from their beds and police wonder if they are together.  Meanwhile, Calli’s alcoholic and abusive father is also missing and her mother begins to fear the worst.   Can the well meaning deputy find the girls before it’s too late?

This story written by an Iowa author takes place in an Iowa town and accurately depicts the relationships people have in small town Iowa.  Each chapter follows a different character and helps the reader piece together what happened to these two girls.  The strong friendship these girls have ends up benefiting both of them in very different ways.  There are tough issues addressed such as kidnapping, alcoholism, and, abuse but the story is very engaging and will make readers want to find out what happened to these girls.  Recommended for Picoult fans.

Burned by Ellen Hopkins

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Poetry

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  530 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

Awards: Iowa High School Award Winner 2009-2010

This story is told in poetry form and follows a young girl named Pattyn whose strict family belongs to the Church of Latter Day Saints.  She is the oldest of six girls and her father does not hide the fact that he would prefer boys.  He often drinks and then hits Pattyn’s mother and the other members of the congregation look away.  As Pattyn begins to think about boys, love, and women’s roles in life she begins to question everything her family stands for.  After some mishaps at school she is sent to live with her aunt who opens her eyes to a different way of life.  Will she ever be able to break free of her family?  Will she ever be able to protect herself from her father’s wrath?

This story depicts a very dysfunctional family through the eyes of the oldest teenager daughter.  She struggles with finding right and wrong and wonders if she is wrong to want a better life than what her mother has.  The time she spends with her Aunt is refreshing as Pattyn begins to learn and grow in a bigger world than the one her family has shown her.  Her summer romance with Ethan shows her what a good relationship is like with open communication and mutual respect.  The story ends ambiguously and many readers will wonder what actually happens to Pattyn.  The ending reminds readers that sometimes there is no happy ending for the characters you have come to care about.  This is a serious book that discusses serious issues.  Fans of A Child Called It or The Rules of Survival will find this interesting.  Those looking for a lighthearted romance need to keep looking.

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.


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