This comes out on June 10!
Strengths: This is a masterfully written book that perfectly captures the vibrating energy some teenage boys have. You can FEEL the hormones coursing through Felton's veins and completely understand his need to run, run, run. The romance is good, too, touching on a delicate matter in a fairly sensitive way. I love that the girlfriend confides in her father AND tells Felton that the two discussed the matter! This is definitely a problem novel-- when things fall apart, they fall apart in a big way, but there is a hopeful sense of humor and a strong support network to take care of Felton, his brother and his mother. Really, really good book.
Weaknesses: The first f-bomb I could excuse, as it heralded the mother's descent into mental illness. The second and third made me nervous. By the time I got to the section where there were five uses on about three pages, I was just ANGRY. I want to have this book on my shelves, but I'm not going to. A huge number of the check outs in my library are personal recommendations. The students know I read all the books. Should I be responsible for every single word in every single book? Maybe not, but I feel I am. My students trust me. I am not comfortable handing them books that use words that would get the students expelled. GAH!!
On top of that, there is an article in the Wall Street Journal that has everyone up in arms-- is YA too dark? Yes, yes it is. And not only that, a lot of authors need to realize that cleaner language might result in more sales.
Watson, Renee. What Momma Left Me.
Serenity is living with her very religious grandparents in the wake of her mother’s death. The adjustment is hard for her and her brother Danny: new school, new church, and new rules. Things improve when she makes friends with Maria and enjoys a church retreat, but the truth about her mother’s death eventually comes out. Her abusive, drug dealing father killed her mother, ran away, and later killed himself. Serenity deals with her loss by writing and confiding in her friends, as well as refusing to let her grandmother teach her to cook, since Serenity’s mother hoped to train to be a chef. Danny deals with his grief by running with the wrong crowd and trying to earn money in dangerous ways that eventually lead to a tragedy.
Strengths: I liked how Serenity had a strong network of support to get her through troubling times. The neighborhood in which she lives is a tough one, but she is able to make good choices. The characters are very well developed.
Weaknesses: I could have done with the inclusion of poetry, and there was a lot of religion, but it was done in a natural way. Also, girls are not going to expect a book with a cake on the cover to be this dark.
Jensen, Melissa. Falling in Love With English Boys.Catherine is super bummed because she has to move to London because her mother is studying the life of a girl, Katherine, who kept a diary in 1815. She does a lot of whining in her blog until she meets the daughter of a local shopkeeper and starts to hang out with her friends, and also meets Will, a very cute descendant of Katherine’s. Alternating chapters point out the similarities between the two girls: both love to shop, hang out with friends, and obsess about boys. Perhaps London will not be so horrible after all!
Strengths: Very nice romance, as well as fantastic travel description. Will takes Catherine sight seeing all through London. *Sigh* Can I read it again? (I'd be able to-- older teen daughter snagged this, read it, and asked to keep the copy I got at a book look because she adored it. Since it was paperback, I said she could.)
Weaknesses: Really? Complaining about being in London? The historical bits were interesting, but seemed a little less than authentic—they had that ring of trying to bring modern sensibilities of independent girls to a previous time where that sort of girl was probably very rare. The modern bits more than make up for that, at least after Catherine stops whining!