Immediate gripe: the opening “article” sounds very newsy, but quickly starts including facts and words anyone who has taken a high school journalism class knows don’t belong in a newspaper. That aside:
Wringer is strongly reminiscent of What Jamie Saw with the neurotic-to-near-psychotic level of emotional intensity. Though my library had this in the junior fiction section, likely because the librarian didn’t read it enough to look beyond Palmer’s young age, I see why it’s seen as a book for teens. The violence in Palmer’s environment is overwhelming at times and raw. And real, I thought. Kids longing to wring birds’ necks without thought of what they’re actually doing, being downright horrendous to other kids just for kicks. Yep, there’s no nicey-nice here.
I loved the Stephen King-like quality of intensity, horrific imagery that’s expressed in plain language, and a sort of Americana neighborhood where boys play together outside. Nowhere do we see an X-box or Nintendo system.
Which leaves me with curiosity - there's a confrontation of brutality here that would be interesting to investigate more in-depth.
What Jamie Saw is the story of a boy and his mother fleeing an abuser. The first chapter is heartbreaking and poignant. Coman chooses a close 3rd person but incorporates a distinct narrator voice—mature, respectful (similar to the Ramona books but less optimistic). So the voice...
Looking for Alaska is easily one of my favorites from the MFAC booklist. Even though I’ve grown a little tired of the forced-funny, self-deprecating voice so ubiquitous in contemporary ya, and tired of a protagonist who stands there going “um hum” while everyone else gets the great one-liners. But here...
S. E. Hinton's The Outsiders. Amazing. Hard to believe this novel was written by a teen. What trumps all here is a sympathetic protagonist and a strong storyline. Hinton can get away with...
In The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian 14-year-old Arnold (Junior) Spirit fights racism and his tribe’s anger as he tries to escape the alcoholism, depression, and death of life as a reservation Native American. I can see why this book received so much attention.
Forged by Fire is gripping! And excruciatingly painful to read. A few thoughts: I’m not sure if I bought...
Seriously, An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 was entirely fascinating. Like brain porn or something. I love medical weirdness and plagues and boils and gross stuff. So this book had me from the title.
Marjane Satrapi, author of Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood crafted a moving introduction. The importance of keeping a family story alive. I wonder, though, if this story would have more power in a different format?
In We Are the Ship Nelson combines fabulous paintings with rich text full of voice for a truly interesting look at the Negro League of baseball. The paintings are gentle, respectful, full of love with absolutely amazing use of light.
Tuck Everlasting. I first read this in upper elementary when I was in a special "advanced" reading class where I got to spend the English hour on the beanbags in the corner and read my way through Newbery classics.
True Believer is a novel in verse, or is it? I would say funky line breaks and jaggy right margins do not verse make (how’s that for some ferociously f*rked syntax?).