Posts Tagged 'divorce'

Fifteen Seconds of Normal by Alex Marestaing

fifteen-seconds-of-normal

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Romance

# of Pages 292

**special review**

Kaeya is a recent transfer who is hiding the fact that she has Tourette’s from her classmates.  She wants people to accept her for who she is and not the disease she deals with daily.  Thatcher learns that his father has left his mother when he finds his mother crying inconsolably and he has to take his sister to school without even taking the time to shower or comb his hair.  Unfortunately, it is picture day at school and he takes the worst photo of his life.  Even more unfortunate for him is that a classmate makes a meme out of the picture and it goes viral.  As Kaeya desperately tries to fit in and earn a date with her crush, Thatcher wonders if he’ll ever survive this humiliation.  Through unexpected circumstances they come together and begin getting to know each other.  Could they be exactly what the other person needs?  Could this be the beginning of something special?

This book tackles issues that many other books don’t, such as the influence of social media on teenagers and Tourette’s, which is a syndrome many teens probably do not know much of anything about.  Yet, the focus of the book is not on hate, judgment, or humiliation but instead on love, patience, and kindness.  Kaeya and Thatcher are extremely engaging characters and their thoughts and emotions are carefully crafted so that the reader wants to know more about each of them and how their relationship will continue to develop.  This is a really engaging, unique story that will take teens by surprise.  Recommended.

The Infinite In Between by Carolyn Mackler

infinite-in-between

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  462 p.

This novel focuses on five students (Mia, Jake, Whitney, Gregor, and Zoe) who are all placed together in a freshmen orientation group.  They all have to have a bonding experience so they end up deciding to write letters to their future selves, hide them in the school, and then promise to meet in four years to open them.  The rest of the book shows how each of their high school experiences go and how even though they are not best friends their lives all touch at times throughout high school. Zoe is living with her aunt since her movie star mother is in rehab.  Jake is dealing with the fallout from admitting he’s gay.  Whitney is struggling to understand why her popular friends act like they do while also navigating her parents’ divorce.  Mia is struggling to find her identity vs. what everyone wants her to be.  Gregor is a band nerd who desperately wants to find the courage to talk to Whitney.  Eventually, their lives all intersect again at graduation.

For readers looking for truthful, engaging writing that does not hold back from issues that many teens do deal with in high school this would be a great pick.  It does not go into detail on many life changing events for its characters, but the purpose of the story is not to spend too much time on any one character but instead to show how people from all groups and cliques in a high school still connect in different ways throughout their four years.

How to Build a House by Dana Reinhardt

how to build a house

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  227

RAC:  Yes

Harper is running away from a difficult home life after her father’s divorce and decides to join a volunteer group working to rebuild a home in Tennessee destroyed by a tornado.  The story switches between Harper meeting new people and helping to rebuild the house in the present and then flashing back to what happened with her dad and why she feels so isolated after her stepmom and two stepsisters moved out.  In addition to this, Harper is trying to avoid her former best friend whom she thought was starting to show romantic interest in her when she caught him with another girl at a party.  While she is in Tennessee she begins to grow closer to the teenage boy of the family they are building the house for, Teddy.  As hard as the work is, the distraction is great to ease her mind on all of her problems at home and she comes to have very strong feelings for Teddy.  Can she face her life after the house is built and the summer is over?

This is a title that has been on my reading list for awhile because of its unique focus on service.  The flashbacks to what happened to Harper are interesting and well paced, but in general the book has less substance than I was expecting.  Teens who have suffered through a parents’ divorce will resonate with Harper’s internal struggle of who she should remain faithful to and wanting the truth.  Harper’s summer activities are not explained in as much detail as her past and the teens she is volunteering with are not developed enough for the reader to easily keep them straight.  Fans of teen romances will like this title.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

girl on train

Genre:  Mystery/Thriller

# of Pages: 323

RAC:  Yes

Rachel is a recently divorced alcoholic, who travels to the city everyday on the train pretending to her roommate that she still has a job.  Every day she passes the house she used to live in with her husband, who still lives there with his new wife and baby.  A few doors down from that house she starts noticing another young couple that she comes to identify with.  She makes up names and stories for them to help her feel like she really knows them.  What she doesn’t know is that their lives are not nearly as perfect as she thinks they are.  One day as the train drives by she sees something unusual that confuses her.  The next day she sees on the news that the woman she has been watching everyday from the train has gone missing.  Should she go to the police?  Will anyone believe her with her history of erratic behavior and alcoholism?

Fans of thrilling mysteries will love this title.  The mystery is well crafted and keeps you in suspense for most of the book.  Several important characters are discussed who all seem like they could possibly be the culprit at one time or another.  The ending is exciting, thrilling, and a bit surprising.  Readers looking for a psychological mystery won’t be disappointed.

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman

bruiser

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  328

RAC Book:  Yes

Tennyson and Bronte are siblings whose parents are English professors.  Tennyson feels very protective of his sister, Bronte, which is why he is upset when he learns she is dating Brewster who is known as Bruiser around their high school.  Tennyson tries intimidating Brewster and even follows him to try and get him to leave his sister alone, but what he ends up finding is that Brewster is covered in bruises and other injuries.  This leads Tennyson to believe that Brewster is being abused at home, but upon further inspection he realizes that Brewster’s situation is a whole lot more complicated than that.  Brewster, through no effort on his part, takes on the pain of anyone he cares about.  As Tennyson and Bronte start to get to know him they start to like having him around and vow never to tell Brewster’s secret.  The problem is that this unusual power is killing Brewster and he does not know if he can stop it before it’s too late.  What will he have to give to protect those he loves?

This story is very different and unique which is why it is so captivating and engaging.  Shusterman creates a set of characters that any reader can empathize with.  The chapters alternate between Bronte, Brewster, and Tennyson, which also helps the reader to see the situation through multiple perspectives.  This book is recommended for everyone, but could be especially useful with reluctant readers.

Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

# of Pages:  248

RAC Book:  Yes

Willa hasn’t seen her dad in so long that she does not even remember what he looks like.  Her and her mom moved away long ago and her mother remarried.  Willa loves her stepdad, but he did come with two kids of his own and since their mother is wealthy they tend to get some perks in life that she simply does not get.  Their lives are completely shaken when Willa comes home one day to find frantic messages from a friend of her mother’s back home.  She doesn’t understand any of them so she tried to contact her mother and becomes panicked when she is unable to.  She calls her stepdad and he assures her that everything will be fine.  When they finally locate her mother she learns that her estranged father was missing with one of his daughters and his other two daughters and new wife were all found stabbed to death.  The police believe he might be on his way to find her so they are all moved into police protection.  Will this news tear her family apart or force truths to come out that they have all been avoiding?  Can she ever shake the reputation of being the girl whose father killed his family in a violent rage?

This story moves quickly as Willa tries to uncover the truth behind her father’s actions as well as what he was like.  She meets the half brother she never knew she had and mourns the loss of her half sisters.  The idea of family becomes a big issue as she is not quite sure which is stronger: blood or situation.  She has always been told her mom’s new husband was her family, but as she examines the situation she is not so sure she has really been treated as family.  There is also some growing resentment toward her mother for keeping so much about her father’s life a secret.  As horrific as the situation with her father is, it also forces her to really examine her life and reevaluate how she wants to continue from here.  Teenage readers will enjoy the story and even reluctant readers will struggle to put it down.

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Romance

# of Pages:  402 pages

RAC Book:  Yes

Mclean has been moving around with her dad ever since her parents’ traumatizing divorce.  Her dad is a restaurant consultant who goes into struggling restaurants to help them turn it around before it is too late.  This is the fourth city Mclean has lived in over the past two years.  Her relationship with her mother is strained at best as she tries to constantly bring her home and Mclean resists.  One of the reasons Mclean likes moving with her dad is because she can reinvent herself each place they go.  When they reach this latest location, however, she finds it harder and harder to ignore who she really is.  She especially has trouble pretending she is someone else when she is with the next door neighbor boy.  Can Mclean come to terms with her parents’ divorce?  Can she find herself and be prepared for college the following year?  Can she keep aloof with her new friends and refuse to form true connections?

Fans of Sarah Dessen will devour this book as it has all of her trademark appeal.  The characters are multi-dimensional and true.  The story is believable and does not rely on over the top plot twists to keep readers interested.  The relationships are so honest that anyone can identify with someone’s situation.  Overall, another gem for Dessen.  Teenage girls will love it.