From Todd Strasser, a long-time author, we have the new Boot Camp. The cover was appealing enough that the student who was processing the shipment this came in wanted to read it. This is a wrenching novel of the mistreatment of an "unruly" student at a private camp meant to take the starch out of the most recalcitrant miscreant. I never felt truly sorry for Garrett (he was dating a teaching, skipping school because he didn't need to be there to keep his grades up, and dabbled in drugs), but I couldn't conjure up any sympathy for his parents, either. He survives the beatings, makes allies, escapes briefly, and eventually gets out. Students will love this (it's very much like April Henry's Shock Point) because of the mistreatment, and also because Garrett is portrayed as the one in the right, but it fell a little flat for me. Garrett doesn't seem to learn anything at all, and wasn't a sympathetic character.
Natasha Friend's Bounce, however was delightful, even though it was a problem novel. Admittedly, it appeals to the Brady Bunch instinct in the modern psyche-- children secretly want to have lots of brothers and sisters, and that's what Evyn gets when her father marries a woman with six children. The family dynamics are realistically portrayed, and I could get emotionally involved with the character-- a sure sign of good writing. I cried when the dog dies. This author also wrote Perfect, a popular book about eating disorders, and Lush, which I didn't buy but will have to reread. The cover art is distinctive. This shouldn't be important, but it is. I get a lot of students who come in and want "that pink book" that their friend is reading!