Going, K.L. Pieces of Why
September 8th 2015 by Kathy Dawson Books
Tia loves to sing in her church choir, which is located in a fairly depressed but relatively safe area of New Orleans, even though there are some snotty "rich" girls who have infiltrated it. When there is a shooting outside the church during practice and a small child is killed, Tia is plunged into sadness. The reason? Her father, whom her mother has always referred to as "dead", committed a robbery while drunk that ended up with him shooting a girl who was the same age that Tia is now. Tia feels that everyone is looking at her and judging her, and she feels too awkward to sing. She tries to contact the family, which makes her mother mad, but also finally motivates her mother to tell Tia the entire story and take her to talk to her father.
Strengths: I like this author, and she always tells intriguing stories. The depiction of life in New Orleans post-Katrina is interesting, and Tia's involvement in a church choir is not something one sees every day in middle grade literature.
Weaknesses: Went in thinking this would be more about the choir and singing, but it ended up being about dealing with the father's crime. So...
What I really think: Definitely the winner for the most depressing book, which is saying something considering that 2015 is The Year Authors Tried to Depress the Living Hell Out of Everyone. We'll just file this under "it's meant to be super depressing" and move on. It's the books that purport to be about something other than gloom and doom but actually are serious downers that make me angry.
Tripp, Valerie. The One and Only (Maryellen #1)
August 27th 2015 by American Girl; paperback only
ARC from Baker and Taylor
Set in the 1950s Florida, this tells the story of a girl growing up in a typical white, middle class family experiencing the typical problems of large family life at this time. Maryellen doesn't want to wear hand-me-downs from her older sisters; she wants a brand new felt poodle skirt. She wants to be known for some good quality, but it's hard given the homogenization of experience at the time.
Strengths: Very good details about everyday life at the time; clothes, family life, home. I also liked that Maryellen was depicted as having a weak leg due to a bout of polio, and adored how she was sent to the beach to get out of her mother's hair... with her six and four year old brothers in tow. Can totally see this happening! And now, we are appalled.
Weaknesses: Not a lot of plot or character development. And I went into this thinking there was time travel involved... BEFOREver instead of BEforever. Confused by this new series title for all the books put out by American Girl.
What I really think: Would have bought this, but it's only in paperback. Drat. The one set in 1914 looked interesting as well. Maybe a prebind?