Williams, Carol Lynch. Signed, Skye Harper
May 13th 2014
by Paula Wiseman Books
Winston lives in Florida with her grandmother, since her young mother has run off to Las Vegas to pursue an acting career in the 1970s. When Winston and her grandmother gets a letter from Judith Lee, aka Skye, Nanny is bound and determined to go and retrieve her wayward daughter. However, the family car is on its last legs, so Nanny decides to borrow the mobile home that belongs to her boss at Leon's. What she doesn't bargain on is Leon's son, Steve, stowing away in the vehicle and making the cross country trip with them. This complicates matters, especially since Winston has a huge crush on Steve, and Nanny was in love with Steve's father before getting pregnant very young with Skye. (Nanny is my age, and Winston is a year younger than my daughter. Hmmm.) Complications ensue during the trip to Las Vegas, and when the group arrives, they aren't quite sure what to make of Skye.
Strengths: Even though I don't normally do well with quirky Southern books and I'm really tired of dysfunctional mothers, this kept me reading. Something about the 1970s setting, or Winston, just intrigued me. She reminded me a little of some of my cousins, I think. I do need books set in the 1970s, and this would appeal to girls who like YA romances. Not really anything inappropriate, although there's a lot of kissing, and a warning from Nanny not to get pregnant.
Weaknesses: Winston likes to take her bra off and put it in the freezer. I found this a disturbing and unnecessary fact. I also didn't quite feel that her relationship with Steve was entirely healthy, put couldn't put my finger on exactly why.
Raymond, Emily and Patterson, James. First Love
January 13th 2014
by Little, Brown and Company
Axi decides that it's high time to leave her small town on the west coast and go on a road trip ala Jack Keruouac, so she talks her best friend Robinson into going. Her father is an alcoholic, so no need to apprise him of their plans, although the purveyor of Ernie's Soda Fountain seems in on the plans. Robinson decides that taking the bus is not the way to make the trip in style, so he steals a series of vehicles. The two make their way through San Francisco, Las Vegas, and even hit Cedar Point in Ohio. There are complications, of course, and Axi slowly lets Robinson know the depth of her feelings for him. But the two are running short of time, and eventually end up in Robinson's hometown in the South.
Strengths: I don't want to give away too much of this, but it might work for readers who loved Green's The Fault in Our Stars. Not bad for YA stuff, about as schmaltzy as Nicholas Sparks.
Weaknesses: There is actual, if not graphic sex, in this and I personally was dismayed at the romance given to death. I'm not sure this is a good book for teenagers to read. Death isn't romantic. Loving someone who is dying isn't romantic. Death just plain stinks, and no one remembers you after you die. I probably would rethink my opinion on the entire oeuvre of Lurlene McDaniel books after this year, but I won't be buying this for my library for several reasons.
Colasanti, Susane. Now and Forever
May 20th 2014
by Viking Juvenile
Sterling and Ethan have been dating for a while and adore each other. Sterling has always supported Ethan's music-- he plays in a band and is trying to get a record contract. When he finally makes it big, things get weird. Fans give Sterling a hard time and accuse her of being mean about fans, she feels a need to dress fashionably because paparazzi are constantly snapping her picture, and Ethan is on the road a lot, so she doesn't get to see him. She joins him on tour at a couple of different stops, and becomes friends with one of his roadies. Sterling has a bad feeling that as much as she loves Ethan, their relationship will be torn apart by his fame.
Strengths: The next best thing to being a rock star? Dating a cute guy who loves you who becomes a rock star. Teens will love this glimpse into the world of rock fame and fortune, and there's plenty of romance-- Sterling melts like an ice pop held by a three year old on a hot day. This author is very popular with my students.
Weaknesses: Not all of Colasanti's books are good MG choices, and this one falls more on the YA side. There's a lot of ... stuff that's not quite objectionable, but almost, and two rather gratuitous f-bombs. Will debate. Perhaps I should learn that if the people on the cover would get talked to for PDA if at school, it's probably going to be too YA for me!