Nicholson, Lorna Schultz Nicholson, Hoop Dreams (Podium sports academy #6)
March 19th 2014 by James Lorimer & Company
Allie is a great basketball player at Podium academy, and has even been offered a scholarship to Duke. This makes up for the fact that her mother is too busy with her new boyfriend and too broke after having been ripped off by her LAST boyfriend to fly out and see Allie play a game. The family that Allie is staying with is supportive, but really caught up in their jobs. The only glimpse she sees of a supportive family is Jonathon’s, the rower she is dating. Allie loves his family, and feels she loves him, too, so she has sex with him. After that, things begin to fall apart. Jonathon gets busy with rowing and doesn’t call her often, her mother is getting remarried, she has to decide what summer job to take, and her knee injury turns out to be much more involved than previously thought, calling her entire future in to question. Distraught and on the verge of suicide, Allie is brought back from the edge by her friend Parminta, and has to decide a new direction for herself.
Strengths: I really appreciate these Lorimer hi/lo titles and am definitely buying Big Air for my library. I have lots of girls who play basketball, and some of them are struggling readers. Allie’s ethnicity is clear, but not the point of the story at all. I love the cover of this one—it would fly off the shelves.
Weaknesses: This is much too YA for middle school, with the scene where Allie and Jonathon have sex. If this had just been alluded to instead of described, I would have probably bought it, but now I just can’t. This is too bad, since I especially thought the subplot with Parminta being a lesbian and Allie thinking briefly that Parminta had a crush on her was handled very well. This is exactly the reason I try to read all the books before I purchase them!
Emerson, Kevin. Exile
April 29th 2014 by Katherine Tegen Books
ARC from Baker and Taylor
Mr. Emerson was kind enough to do an interview for my blog several years ago when his Oliver Nocturne books were coming out, so I was eager to read this title. It turned out to be enjoyable and most likely appropriate for middle school collections, but generally more young adult because of the tone and somewhat angsty quality to the romance. I don't get many requests for heavy duty band related books, but Mr. Emerson, who is a musician himself, brings in a lot of very good details in this book. Definitely a good choice for anyone interested in the mechanics of bands getting started, performing local gigs, etc., or for girls who want a romance that is more problematic than, say, Angela Darling's Crush series.
"Catherine Summer Carlson knows how to manage bands like a professional—she’s a student at the PopArts Academy at Mount Hope High, where rock legends Allegiance to North got their start. Summer knows that falling for the lead singer of her latest band is the least professional thing a manager can do. But Caleb Daniels isn’t an ordinary band boy—he’s a hot, dreamy, sweet-singing, exiled-from-his-old-band, possibly-with-a-deep-dark-side band boy. And he can do that thing. That thing when someone sings a song and it inhabits you, possesses you, and moves you like a marionette to its will.
Summer also finds herself at the center of a mystery she never saw coming. When Caleb reveals a secret about his long-lost father, one band’s past becomes another’s present, and Summer finds it harder and harder to be both band manager and girlfriend. She knows what the well-mannered Catherine side of her would do, but she also knows what her heart is telling her. Maybe it’s time to accept who she really is, even if it means becoming an exile herself. . . ."