Posts Tagged 'parents'

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Genre: Realistic Fiction

# of Pages: 286

2019 Iowa Book Award Winner

Aza is a high school girl with many phobias in life, specifically that she will come in contact with a germ that will ultimately kill her.  She is constantly thinking about different diseases and risks she could encounter on a daily basis and this constant focus on her mortality has made her a bit of an outcast in her high school.  She does have one best friend, Daisy, who loves to write Star Wars fan fiction and seems to have Aza’s back at all times. When a local millionaire is charged with several crimes and disappears before he can be arrested, Daisy and Aza dream about what they would do with the $100,000 reward money for anyone who can provide information on his whereabouts.  When Aza was young, she was friends with the millionaire’s son, Davis.  They decide to contact him again in the hopes of learning where his dad is so they can collect the reward money.  He quickly sees through their plan, but reuniting with Aza turns out to be pretty great as she and Davis become close.  Whenever she gets too close, however, her mind spins out of control and she has to leave to collect her thoughts.  Can Aza overcome her own thoughts in order to get close to the boy she cares about?  Can Aza and Daisy find out what happened to Davis’s father?  Is Daisy as good of a friend as she thinks she is to Aza?

This book has gotten a lot of attention because it portrays Aza’s condition in a realistic light so that others can understand what it would be like to live like that. All of the characters are well developed and it’s easy to understand their motivations and desires.  The mystery of what happened to Davis’s dad is what gets the story going, but ultimately this story is about the characters and how they are all trying their best to deal with their individual issues and get through high school.  Fans of John Green will devour this title.

Iron Heart by Brian Boyle

Genre:  Sports Autobiography

# of Pages:  248

RAC Book:  Yes

2011 Iowa High School Award Winner

This remarkable true story follows Brian Boyle’s recovery from a horrendous car accident he was in when he was eighteen.  He was preparing to go to college on a swim scholarship and instead spent two months fighting for his life.  He had multiple surgeries and countless hardships ahead of him, but he made the choice that he wanted to fight for his life.  His parents were there to support him every step of the way as he slowly worked toward the same goals he had made prior to the accident.

This story is told in Brian’s words so the writing is not very technical or complex, but his words are very powerful.  Most teens will be able to relate to his feelings of helplessness as his dreams and aspirations after high school slip away.  They will also be able to identify with his perseverance and will to fight when no one thought he could.  The story is uplifting and heartwarming and will interest most teen readers, but especially readers who like reading about athletes.  Reading this story will give teenagers a lot to think about regarding their own futures and the choices they plan to make, but also the present and how they want to live for today.

Hero by Perry Moore

Genre:  Fantasy

Age Level:  14 and up

# of Pages:  428 p.

RAC Book: Yes

Thom Creed is a teenager coming to terms with many issues in his life including the disappearance of his mother when he was young, the fall of his heroic father, and his questionable sexuality.  His father was once a huge hero, but due to an unfortunate event he lost his hand and became a complete outcast.  Now, there is a league of heroes who all have superpowers.  During a basketball game, Thom begins to see the beginnings of a superpower he might possess.  As he struggles to learn more about his power he also struggles with the feelings that he thinks he might be homosexual.  Both of these developments would anger his father greatly.

After getting kicked off his basketball team for the rumor of his homosexuality, Thom decides to go to hero tryouts in order to be a trainee for the league.  He meets many aspiring heroes with powers that have not yet become completely controlled.  After making a probationary team, Thom learns how truly difficult it is to be a hero and feels bad about the disappointment his father has become simply for trying to help people.  As Thom works with the league he comes to find out more about why his mother left, what really happened when his father lost that hand, and where he truly belongs.

This story about heroes training to save the world brings fun adventures along with deep feelings about many very real issues teenagers face today including sexuality, friendship, parents, reputations, and finding what one is supposed to do in this world.    The issue of homosexuality is an issue that many young adult authors do not touch, which makes this story unique.  Thom’s feelings hinder his aspiratons to become a hero, which connects nicely to aspirations many young people have but feel prejudice will keep them from doing it.  For example, even in our evolved society a homosexual teen would have a harder time breaking into pro sports than a heterosexual one.  While some readers may feel his homosexual fantasies are too graphic, they are no worse than any other sexual fantasies present in similar material.  Moore does a nice job of taking realistic elements and mixing them into the fantasy world where superheroes exist.