Monday, February 08, 2010

Problem boys, problem parents

Rosalind Wiseman's Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials struck me as a bit didactic at first, but the depiction of the intricacies of high school in a middle school friendly way makes this book worth the purchase. Charlie open enrolls in a neighboring school in order to escape some toxic friendships, but doesn't get far-- another girl from her old school open enrolls, and the two have to repair their relationship. Charlie also renews her acquaintance with Will, a childhood friend, and makes friends with Sydney. Add to the mix a romantic interest in Tyler, who is cute but jerky, some newspaper writing and an evil lacrosse team, and this adds up to an interesting book, especially for 8th graders who are looking forward to moving into a larger world. Not surprisingly, Ms. Wiseman's other books have been nonfiction on bullying and mean girls, so the instructional tone is to be expected. Would have given this to my high school daughter, but she need to read Gone With the Wind.

I was a little leery of another new Cooney title, since If the Witness Lied was a disappointment, but They Never Came Back was excellent. I read it before I even read the Sunday paper. Cathy Ferris is taking summer school Latin at a neighboring school, and a boy in another class thinks that she is his cousin. The problem? His aunt and uncle defrauded a huge number of people and then left the country, leaving behind his cousin and a mess for his parents to clean up. Murielle ends up in the foster care system, and her mother and father never return. Is it possible that five years later, Murielle turns up posing as someone else? Yes. Early on we learn that Cathy is indeed Murielle, but the FBI doesn't care-- they want to use the resemblance to try to lure the parents back from Europe. Cathy sees the devastation her parents have left, and just wants to see them again-- but does she want them punished? This was a riveting and nuanced novel, and even the Latin class is handled as well as can be expected. Referencing Wheelock and getting the Latin right was a big plus. Good to see that there are more intriguing Cooney stories coming.

Read Dandi Daley Mackall's My Boyfriends' Dogs, which was very fun, but also a high school book because of the main characters concentration on not losing her virginity to boyfriend number one. Also read Ann Pearlman's The Christmas Cookie Club-- as a treat, since I rarely read adult fiction-- and it was hugely depressing! How many ways can people mess up their own lives? Looked nice and fluffy, but was really descriptions of how over a dozen women goofed up and made themselves miserable. Back to YA for me!

1 comment:

  1. Hullo, I passed on the Prolific Bloggers Award to you on my blog! Because you are cool and the absolute mistress of all things middle grade!