Ruby and the people in her community are forced to collect sacred water with pewter cups and spoons from the leaves in the forest, a task that is complicated by the recent drought. They have been doing this for 200 years for the evil Darwin, who sells the water to the Visitor and keeps Ruby's "congregation" in abject poverty, severely limiting their food and having them constantly watched by overseers. The water has healing properties, but it is the inclusion of Ruby's blood that makes it more effective, because she is the daughter of the man who started the congregation, Otto, and whose return the congregation pray for. To Otto. When Ruby falls in love with a kind overseer and gets a look at the outside world, she wants to change her community. Will she succeed, or will she need to leave in order to improve her life?
Strengths: Very well written and compelling. I always appreciate a book with a clear cut plot that I can still recall a day after reading it. Bachorz's other title, Candor, has been very popular. Not a lot happens in the novel, but I wonder if Picky Reader might be lured into reading dystopia because of the wretched living conditions. (She loves problem novels.)
Weaknesses: As with Lemony Snicket, there were a TON of questions that never got answered. We get glimpses of how everything happened, but I was just as much in the dark at the end. Some explanation, perhaps in flashback, of the creation of the community would have been very helpful.
Craig plays for a select high school hockey team in Canada, where apparently players come from all over and are put up with local families. The team is doing well until a series of unfortunate incidents affect their performance on the ice. Roaches and fiberglass insulation are put into uniforms, skates are sabotaged, and when wallets are stolen and end up in Craig's duffel bag, he is suspended. Instead of returning home, he enlists the help of a cute girl who reports for the school paper, and they uncover a plot to keep the team from winning.
Strengths: If you ever have students interested in hockey who are also reluctant readers, this is a MUST purchase, if only for the first chapter, which includes the roaches in the uniform scene. In fact, this book was so humorous and fast paced, but with a dangerous mystery, that I may recommend it to a football playing picky reader in the fall. I have a lot of Orca books by this author.
Weaknesses: The pages of these are tiny, and the prebinding makes the white space at the edges minute. I know that Orca tries to provide inexpensive books for reluctant readers, but these are the readers who are particularly sensitive to how a book is formatted and how words appear on the page. I wish they were more the size and formatting of Rich Wallace's Southside Sports books.
1. 17 miles 2. 15 books 3. 12 quilt tops