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.

Manifest by Artist Arthur

Genre:  Fantasy

# of Pages:  248

RAC Book:  Yes

Krystal has recently moved to a new town due to her parent’s divorce and she is having trouble adjusting to her new life.  She has not made any friends, has stopped eating, and now has begun seeing ghosts.  Specifically, one ghost named Ricky has been following her.  He was a student at her school, but was shot and killed before she arrived.  Now he wants to find who really killed him so that he can cross over.  As Krystal copes with this difficult situation she meets two other students who mysteriously have the same birthmark as her.  They quickly realize that they all have special gifts and they plan to work together to find out what happened to Ricky.  They call themselves the Mystyx.  Despite Krystal’s hesitance to let others in on her secret, she finds relief when she can talk to her new friends about her supernatural visions.  Her relief is short lived, however, when she realizes that someone wants to hurt her for helping Ricky and the reasons behind his murder go deeper than she expected.

The plot of this story is interesting as Krystal tries to piece together what happened to Ricky.  The characters are interesting and well developed.  The writing style is a little simple and might turn off some young adult readers.  The beginning feels a bit slow and predictable, but once she meets her fellow mystyx things pick up quickly.  Fans of supernatural mysteries will enjoy this title, but it is not the best one out there right now.  Recommended to supplement a thriving fantasy collection.

Waiting for you by Susane Colasanti

Genre:  Realistic Fiction/Romance

# of Pages:  322 p.

RAC:  Yes

Marisa and Sterling are two best friends who are determined to begin this new school year right.  They set goals for making friends, getting boyfriends, and succeeding in school.  Marisa is a little apprehensive about this year because the previous year she was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and depression.  She feels she has recovered, but always worries those lonely feelings will come back.  She also desperately wants to date Derek, the popular boy in school, which is why she shuns the romantic advances of her male best friend, Nash.  To top everything off, Marisa learns her parents are going to get divorced.  Basically, nothing goes exactly as she and Sterling planned and Marisa wonders if she can handle so many unexpected obstacles in her life.  The only person who seems able to understand her is this mystery DJ Dirty Dirk,  who broadcasts an anonymous show every night.  Will she be strong enough to ask for help if she needs it?

Marisa’s difficulty with depression is handled very accurately in this story as she struggles to make it day to day without feeling hopeless and alone.  Even though she knows she has a lot to be grateful for, she can’t seem to make herself feel that way on her own.  Jealousy, anger, and confusion are all a part of Marisa’s life, which most teenagers can probably relate to.  As she tries to make sense of those around her she realizes that she does not have to have all of the answers at once, but just needs to keep trying to reach her goals.  Fans of Sarah Dessen will enjoy this one.

Three Willows by Ann Brashares

cover-3-willows

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 12 and up

# of Pages: 318 p.

RAC Book: Yes

Ama, Jo, and Polly are three friends who met in 3rd grade and have drifted a bit over the last few years. In the summer before their freshman year of high school they each take a different journey. Ama reluctantly takes an opportunity to go on a wilderness adventure in which she can earn school credit.   In order to get credit, however, she has to survive to the end and rappel off of a mountain. Jo goes to her family’s summer home with her mother and gets a job at a restaurant. Polly decides to go to a modeling clinic. Ama has a difficult time adjusting to her wilderness adventure because she is weak, slow, and seems to get hurt a lot. She thinks about giving up and going home several times, but she doesn’t feel comfortable talking to anyone about her real feelings. Jo realizes that her parents’ marriage is in trouble and makes some bad choices over the summer in order to avoid dealing with it. Polly feels very lonely with no friends and a mother who spends all of her time in her workshop. She responds by putting herself on a strict diet. As the three struggle with their personal problems they all realize how important it is to keep your true friends close.

Those who were fans of the original sisterhood books will like this story. The writing style is the same and it is easy to care about these three girls and the struggles they have to deal with over this very important summer. The girls from the traveling pants series are mentioned briefly, but it is not a sequel to those books. Instead, it is a book about friendship with three new girls. These girls are a bit younger than the traveling pants girls, but they will find an audience who cares about them and wants to hear what happens to them after they start high school. The transition to high school is a time of many changes for young girls and that is illustrated beautifully in this story as each girl struggles with different challenges and finds inner strength she never knew she had. Brashares knows how to write very relatable and interesting teenage girls.

Confessions of a Serial Kisser by Wendelin Van Draanen

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Age Level:  13 and up

# of Pages:  294 p.

RAC Book:  yes

Evangeline is going through a difficult time as her parents have recently separated due to her father’s infidelity and she cannot bring herself to even look at him let alone talk to him.  Her best friend, Adrienne, is very supportive but is also very involved at school and is therefore not around as much as Evangeline would like.  After reading one of her mom’s romance novels Evangeline decides that what she needs is a true “crimson kiss.”  In order to find her perfect kiss she begins going around kissing random people and soon gets a reputation.  As rumors swirl about her she must decide what it is she is really looking for and how she can center herself before spinning completely out of control and losing everyone she cares about.

This story is about a girl who is struggling with her parents’ separation and finds herself trying to look for things in life that she thinks she wants.  In the end, she discovers that she does not even really know what she wants and she must face some of the difficult situations she has been trying so desperately to avoid.  The main situation being that she refuses to speak with her father even after his repeated attempts to communicate.  The story is entertaining and will be popular with teenage girls.

Losing Forever by Gayle Friesen

friesen_losing

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Age Level: 13 and up

# of Pages: 247 p.

RAC Book: yes

Jes is struggling with every aspect of her life. She is still dealing with the death of her younger sister and subsequent divorce of her parents. Meanwhile, her mother is engaged to be married again and her new fiancee has brought his teenage daughter to live in Jes’s room. Jes’s best friend is smitten with her new boyfriend, which makes Jes feel unneeded and forgotten. Everyone keeps trying to include her in their plans, but she doesn’t feel like she belongs anywhere anymore. Can she ever communicate her feelings to those she loves without alienating everyone around her?

This story appears very simple, but resonates with many teenagers who feel like life is passing them by while they try to make sense of what is around them. Teenagers go through many changes with friends and family and often need time to process and adjust to all of these changes. This story finds an audience and conveys a story that the audience can truly relate to. Life is never easy and people often respond to major life changes in different ways. It’s important for young adults to have characters like this one to read about in order to better understand their own feelings about major life changes.


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