Friday, April 24, 2009

Wow! Where to start?

Katie Alender's Bad Girls Don't Die had me laughing and shivering. It was a riveting blend of realistic problem fiction and a spooky ghost story. Lexi is having a hard time in 9th grade and is antisocial and quirky. However, her explanation of how she got that way made perfect sense, and I liked her. The realistic scenes (problems with parents, emerging interest in a boy) made the possession of her sister seem even more frightening. Lexi herself thinks she is losing her grip on reality because of stress; are the strange things she sees really the work of her sister? I don't want to give away the mystery, since the threads are all pulled together so well. This is fresh and different. The only drawback was the unflattering portrayal of the unhelpful school librarian reading a romance novel at work. Sure, this is a fantasy book, but I assure you that NEVER happens. Ms. Alender is having a giveaway contest at her blog.

Janette Rallison is one of my favorite authors. My wish might be to have written her Just One Wish. Annika's 6-year-old brother has a cancerous brain tumor, and all he wants is a Robin Hood action figure-- or so she thinks. When she promises a wish, he wishes to meet Robin Hood in person, setting Annika off on an ill-conceived road trip to get the actor and bring him home with her before her brother goes into surgery. Far-fetched, but believably written. So this wouldn't happen in real life-- isn't that the point of reading fiction? All of the characters are likeable despite flaws and convincingly written. I especially appreciated the realistic ending. Rallison certainly took plenty of notes about her own teen age years and has used this information to advantage!

Our 8th graders are doing a Holocaust unit, so I am always struggling to keep enough books on hand. Monique Polak's What World is Left was very like my favorite, Marietta Moskin's 1972 I Am Rosemarie. Anneke and her family are taken to Theresienstadt from their home in Holland. This was a "model" camp, and the family is treated better than most, because the father is an artist who agrees to do propagandistic paintings for the Nazis. Still, conditions are inhuman. This is based on the experiences of the author's mother. I was enthralled, as many of my students are, and it made me wonder about the appeal of Holocaust fiction. I think that books like this, where the person's happy, normal past is contrasted against the horrors of the concentration camps makes us stop and think about what we would do in similar circumstances. How strong would we be? Would we survive? Books like this make us stop and think about so many things. Even though this is only in paperback or prebind, I'm definitely getting a couple more copies.
Coming Monday: An interview with Kevin Emerson, of Oliver Nocturne fame, to celebrate the publication of his fifth book, The Eternal Tomb.


Katie Alender said...

I'm so glad you liked Bad Girls Don't Die! I promise I'll make it up to librarians in a future book. ;-)

Readingjunky said...

These all sound terrific. I'm especially attracted to BAD GIRLS DON'T DIE. That cover is great.


Oh, Just One Wish is on my To Read pile--thanks for the review! I guess it's like those high concept movies, but they can be fun just the same.

Mrs. F-B's Books Blog said...

Just checked out Just One Wish from the public library. Will definitely be ordering What World is Left. Saw Bad Girls Don't Die promoted on another site as well. Looks good and a little scary. Would love to write more, but gotta get back to reading my romance novel here at my librarian's desk. HAH!

Ooooh - just saw that CONES is my verification word. Maybe I'll have ice cream AND romance novels!

Mrs. F-B's Books Blog said...

Stayed up 'til 11:30 last night finishing Just One Wish. Loved it even though there's so much not to believe.

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