Posts Tagged 'death'

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

Genre: Romance/ Realistic Fiction

# of Pages: 440

Emma Saylor hasn’t spent much time with her mother’s family since she was little due to her parent’s divorce and then her mother’s death when she was ten.  Her father tried really hard to shield her from the pain he knew she felt from her mother’s absence.  When her dad gets remarried, Emma is supposed to spend time with a close friend while he goes on his honeymoon, but plans change and she finds herself without anywhere to go for several weeks.  After exhausting every possibility, Emma goes to stay with her mother’s family who call her Saylor (which is what her mother called her).  They run a hotel next to a lake and Emma finds herself learning the importance of hard work and family as she throws herself into the family business.  She also realizes that she really doesn’t know much about her mother’s family at all and enjoys hearing how memories and seeing family photos.  As she gets to know her grandmother, aunts, and cousins she starts to realize that she wants to get to know them more even after the summer is over.  Meanwhile, there is a little romance between her and a local boy.

Anyone can relate to this story about feeling torn between two different worlds.  Emma was always a part of her father’s elite upper middle class world, but she feels she belongs just as much to her mother’s working class family first world.  Can she find a way to balance both?  Can she find a way for her two worlds to connect?  Recommended for fans of Dessen’s other titles or Jenny Han books.

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Iowa High School Award Winner 2020-21

Genre: Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  234

Marin ran away to college after a terrible tragedy befell her and she hasn’t told anyone about it, even her best friend Mabel.  Despite her effort to outrun her past, however, Mabel has come to visit Marin in her dorm over Christmas break.  Mabel is determined to find out why Marin ran away and if there is any way to rekindle their friendship.  As the weekend goes on Marin begins to face the terrible truth she ran from, but she also begins to realize that she is going to have to face her past eventually.  Can they be as close as they once were?  Can Marin learn to deal with her reality as it is?

Fans of John Green will enjoy this title.  The characters are vivid and the plot is revealed at an appropriate pace.  Many difficult issues are discussed so readers looking for lighter reads will probably want to keep looking.  This has been named an Iowa Award Winner for next year.

 

This is Not the End by Chandler Baker

Genre:  Realistic Fiction apart from one futuristic element

376 p.

Lake Devereaux survived the car accident that killed her best friend and her boyfriend.  She has less than a month until she turns eighteen, at which time she can resurrect one person, but only one.  To make matters worse, she had already promised her resurrection to someone else who isn’t even dead yet. Everyone is pressuring her to use her resurrection for their personal family member and she is getting frustrated and overwhelmed.  Then, after therapy she meets a boy from her past who does not care who she chooses and therefore she sees him as someone she can confide in. He has strong feelings against resurrections, though, which makes their relationship difficult.  Who will Lake choose?

This book manages to set up a premise that seems totally believable and yet impossible for Lake all at once.  Her relationship with her brother, boyfriend, and best friend are all described in avid detail as you see why she is struggling so hard with this resurrection decision.  The periphery characters are also well described and their motivations are all understandable.  The ending will surprise most readers, but not in the way they will probably think.  The book manages to sustain a very interesting premise throughout the entire book.

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

Genre:  Fantasy

Holly Chase was a wealthy, beautiful, egotistical daughter of a movie director who lived to judge others.  Therefore, it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise when she was visited on Christmas Eve by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future.  Yet, Holly chose not to take this experience seriously and laughed it off as a joke despite the ghosts’ warnings that she would die soon if she didn’t change her ways.  Shortly after her disastrous Scrooge experience she is hit by a car and dies.  She wakes up in the office of the company who choose the “Scrooge” each year and she is now required to work here to prepare for each Christmas Eve, but then must also act the role of Christmas past.  She thinks she’ll be stuck in this existence forever until one year her Scrooge is a teenager just like her, and unfortunately, she can see the similarities between herself and her new Scrooge and for the first time she begins to feel bad about the kind of person she really was when she was alive.  Can she save him from the same fate even if she has to break a few rules?

Anyone looking for a fun Christmas read should check this one out.  Holly is brash, bratty, insensitive, and sympathetic all at once.  She’s trying to do better, but doesn’t really know how.  The supporting characters are all fun and colorful, but the focus is definitely on Holly and most of the other characters are not as developed.  The story itself is fun and the reader wants to root for Holly despite her difficult personality.  Recommended.

Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty

lock and mori

Genre:  Mystery

# of Pages:  248

RAC: Yes

Miss James “Mori” Moriarty has been living a tough existence since her mother died several months before.  Her father has become a heavy drinker and often takes his frustrations out physically on her and her three brothers.  She knows she needs to do something to protect her brothers but she isn’t sure what at this time.  Meanwhile, she becomes friendly with a strange boy at her school, Sherlock Holmes.  They encounter a murder in the nearby park and are shocked to see the police are severely inept and make terrible and lazy assumptions.  They decide to investigate on their own in order to find the true killer and are horrified to discover this was merely one amongst several similar murders.  There is a serial killer out there the police aren’t even looking for!  Can Mori find the killer and save her family from an increasingly bad home life?

This is a fun mystery story for fans of mystery fiction and TV shows.  Sherlock Holmes is impressive in his deductions and observations as always and it’s refreshing to see a different take on the character of Moriarty.  There is a bit of violence in it and Mori’s father is definitely a force to contend with in her life, but Lock and Mori try very hard to never lose hope that they can in fact prevail as long as their intentions and resolve are strong enough.

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

dangerous girls

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Mystery

# of Pages:  388 p.

RAC:  Yes

On a spring break trip to Aruba a group of high school seniors think they will have a carefree time full of beaches and parties, but instead end up finding one of their own, Elise, stabbed to death in their beach house.  Surprisingly, police turn suspicion onto their group rather than following clues that might suggest an outside intruder.  Within a few days, Anna, Elise’s best friend, is arrested and charged with the crime.  Anna’s boyfriend, Tate, is originally considered until his father’s expensive lawyers convince Aruba to let him go in exchange for testifying against Anna.  Anna feels shocked, sad, vulnerable, and betrayed as she awaits her trial in jail.  As her friends return to school, college, etc. she is forced to face the realization that she may spend the majority of her life in a foreign prison.  Will Anna be convicted?  Did she know anything about this terrible crime?

Fans of Pretty Little Liars and similar series will enjoy this title that packs emotion, suspense, and surprise throughout the entire story.  Readers come to feel like they know what it would be like to be in Anna’s shoes.  There are some passages with heavy language and sexual references that do ring true for how teens often talk and act to each other but may not be appropriate for younger readers.

Golden by Jessi Kirby

golden

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  277

RAC:  Yes

Parker is a high school senior who has always followed the rules and done what she was supposed to, which is why she is currently a finalist for a prestigious scholarship that would give her a full ride scholarship to her dream school.  Her best friend, however, feels she needs to break a few rules before graduation.  The opportunity surprisingly arises when she is asked by a teacher to mail out notebooks full of wishes and goals written by a group of high school seniors ten years prior.  As she gathers the notebooks to send out to these graduated seniors from ten years ago she comes across one for a Julianna.  This is a big deal because Julianna died in a car accident with her high school sweetheart shortly after graduation.  They have since been immortalized in the town as the “golden couple” who were meant to be together forever.  Parker decides to open the notebook and read what Julianna’s last thoughts were in those weeks leading up to her death.  What were her aspirations?  Her dreams?  When Parker starts reading the notebook, however, she is very surprised by Julianna’s words and it makes her question everything the town promotes about this girl.  Was there more to that fateful night that led to the horrific car accident?  Parker decides to investigate.

Fans of Sarah Dessen and Nicholas Sparks will devour this title.  It is full of colorful characters, including Parker who is always pushed for greatness by her mother but deep down she doesn’t really know what she wants for her future.  Meanwhile, Julianna’s notebook opens a flood of feelings and fears leading up to graduation that anyone could identify with.  Plus, there is the added intrigue of finding out what exactly happened to Julianna and her boyfriend.  It’s a fun romance story that will be popular with many young adult teens.


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