Posts Tagged 'adoption'

Look Again by Lisa Scottoline

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  341

RAC Book:  Yes

Ellen is a reporter who is shocked to see a picture of her son’s face on a missing child flier.  She had adopted him two years ago when he was a very sick one year old.  The adoption papers appeared to be legal, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.  After doing some investigating, Ellen begins to see that the pieces of her child’s past simply do not fit.  However, she has no proof that her son was unlawfully taken from his birth parents.  Does she keep quiet for fear of losing her son?  Can she live without knowing the truth about her son’s true lineage?

This thrilling mystery moves quickly from the first page, but the last third of the book really keeps the reader engaged.  Ellen’s actions are understandable and justified as she tries to find answers.  The author wrote Ellen’s emotional turmoil at the thought of losing her son in a way that anyone can understand, but especially parents.  There are a few twists and turns that make this story different from other child abduction mysteries.  Fans of mystery writers such as Harlan Coben and Mary Higgins Clark will love this story.

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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.

The Snows by Sharelle Byars Moranville

Genre: Historical Fiction

Age Level: 14 and up

# of Pages: 225 p.

RAC Book: Yes

The Snows follows four generations of the Snow family who live in Jefferson, Iowa. The four sections of the book focus on when one of the Snows was sixteen and the turmoil that year brought to the entire family. The first section takes place in 1931 as the Snows struggle through the depression. The second section takes place in 1942 when Cathy Snow gets unexpectedly pregnant and her family has to deal with a teen pregnancy during a time of low tolerance. The third section follows Jill in 1969 during a time of rebellion and protest over the Vietnam War. Finally, the last section connects the previous three sections together when Mona goes home for a family funeral in 2006 and reunites with many family members whom she has not seen much in her sixteen years.

The Iowa backdrop for this story will appeal to any Iowans because there are mentions of specific towns and places that any Iowan will know. The first two sections seem the most compelling as they introduce the family and their dynamic. The section in 1969 reveals some strong language in the protest for the war. The protest is not explored in depth enough for those readers who do not know a lot about this time. The final section is used as a way to pull the four parts together. All in all a nice read, but may be difficult to sell to young adults.

Origin by Diana Abu-Jaber

Genre: Mystery

Age Level: 14 and up

# of pages: 384 p.

RAC Book: Yes

Lena Dawson is a fingerprint analyst who is known for being very thorough and a bit of a loner. She is famous for cracking some difficult cases in the past and is therefore not surprised when a distraught mother approaches her about the unusual circumstances surrounding her infant son’s death. His case is one of several in the past few months that was ruled a SIDS death. Lena begins to get suspicious, but isn’t sure if she wants to delve into this complicated and difficult case. Many of her co-workers believe the only reason it is coming to light now is because the last victim’s family has connections to some major political officials. At the same time, Lena is dealing with a difficult marriage separation and the realization that she has been pushing people away for some time. This case stirs some uneasy feelings about her own past before she came to be adopted, but she feels she must solve the case in order to move past her own issues.

Mystery lovers will enjoy the story about the infant deaths because it continues to evolve and develop right up until the end. Lena’s own hidden past seems a little too contrived and unbelievable. Once she discovers the truth it seems unlikely that it would have been kept from her in the first place due to the fact that not knowing led her imagination to create unimaginable memories that she came to accept as real. The character of Lena and her co-workers seem flat and uninteresting at times. If the characters had been more interesting the story may have moved along more quickly. Mystery readers will enjoy, but will find it slow.

Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

Genre:  Mystery/Horror

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  288 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

Dexter Morgan was adopted when he was three and even though he doesn’t remember anything before that, his adopted father, who is also a cop, seems determined to help him rise above his past.  As Dexter grows up, however, he begins to feel tendencies toward murder.  As hard as he tries to fight it he finds himself murdering animals in the neighborhood.  Once his father discovers this he teaches him how to execute a murder so that he will never get caught, while also showing him how to profile serial killers.  He believes that if you have to kill you might as well kill people who deserve it.

 When Dexter grows up he becomes a blood spatter analyst in a police station while his sister strives to become a homicide detective.  He works very hard to find people he believes deserve to die for their sins and making that a reality.  Soon there is a new murderer in town who has caused quite a stir since the bodies never contain any blood.  As Dexter tries to solve this case it keeps getting further into his psyche and he wonders if it is possible he is committing these murders and not even knowing it.  Is it time for Dexter to pay for his crimes before he lost control completely?

This murderous villain forces the reader to ponder very important issues that are often glossed over in television and movies.  Is it okay to kill if you are killing other “bad guys”?  Is it okay to take vengeance into your own hands?  Are there people who truly have a disposition for murder or are they formed into that through environment or mental disease?  Dexter Morgan can be a very sympathetic character, but he can also be a monster which makes these stories very complex and interesting to discuss with students.  The story itself is very interesting and leaves you guessing until the end.  Mystery readers will be fans of this book.


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