Saturday, July 12, 2014

30 Days of No Gossip

18051182Faris, Stephanie. 30 Days of No Gossip

Published March 18th 2014 by Aladdin 
Copy from Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there.
Maddie and Vi have been best friends since birth because their mothers met in the hospital and became best friends themselves. Now that they are in seventh grade, Maddie has found a sure fire way to gain popularity-- she's the school's top gossip, handing out an unofficial newsletter at lunch and keeping tabs of all of the romances and scandals. Vi isn't thrilled with this, but friends Sydney and Jessica encourage Maddie's obsession with knowing what is going on. When Maddie tells Vi's crush that she likes him, and the rest of the school quickly finds out, Vi is ready to quite being friends... unless Maddie can promise NOT to gossip for 30 days. Maddie doesn't want to, but values Vi's friendship enough that she agrees. Maddie finds out very quickly that this is harder than it seems. Everything she talks about seems to be gossip, and even when she doesn't say anything, people take her silence in different ways and make up their own stories. Maddie comes across an enormous piece of news that she can't share even though it affects the whole school and could be a really good opportunity for Vi to showcase her interior decorating skills, but the news leaks out anyway and causes all sorts of complications. 
Strengths: This was a very accurate portrayal of middle school friendships, which have a horrible way of changing in a variety of horrible ways as girls learn how they fit into school society and who they really want to be. Vi and Maddie's different views of gossip, the nature of friendship, and dealing with boys are all topics that are of concern to students at this age. I especially enjoyed that Maddie really tried to make her friend happy, found she couldn't do exactly what was expected of her, but tried to be a good friend anyway. The Mix paperbacks are popular with my students, and a good choice if you know a middle school girl who needs a good beach read!
Weaknesses:  Don't know that a reality tv show would really want to refurbish a middle school and add a break room, not that middle school students wouldn't like the idea. Big question: which teacher gets to be on duty to supervise the break room?

Dreamer, Wisher, Liar Harper, Charise Mericle. Dreamer, Wisher, Liar
April 15th 2014 by Balzer + Bray
Copy from Young Adult Books Central and reviewed there.

Ash is upset because her friend Lucy is moving away  and also spending the whole summer away at camp while Ash has to be stuck at home for most of the summer to help amuse Claire. Claire's mother has died and her father can't cope, so Ash's mother has agreed to take her for the summer. The younger Claire is full of ideas and plans, and Ash doesn't really want to deal with her, especially after she finds a jar in the basement labeled "wishes". The jar is filled with slips of paper, and when Ash reads them, she can see into the lives of Ashley and Shue, who seem to have written the papers. Their story seems to be intertwined with the lives of two of the residents in the nursing home where Claire and Ash help with craft time. Ash starts to see that Claire is really benefiting from the time the two spend together, and even starts to enjoy the little girl herself.
Strengths: This is a gentle tale of gratitude in the face of disappointment, and a great lesson in thinking about others. Ash is never mean to Claire, but comes to understand how much Claire needs her very slowly. The magical realism is a nice touch, and something for which more and more readers are asking. Even though Claire's mother and father are gone, Ash's parents are both very much present and supportive. The girl's involvement in the community is a nice tough, as is Ash's struggle with prosopagnosia (inability to recognize faces).
Weaknesses: Not a whole lot actually happens in the book, and it is palpably sad on many occasions, and the cover made me believe it would be much happier. The magical realism could have benefited from a little more explanation. The twist in the end is one I could see coming, but I still had no good reason as to why everything was occurring. 



Stephanie Faris said...

Yay! Thank you for reviewing 30 Days of No Gossip. I found this on Twitter and was so excited to see it.

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