Saturday, March 10, 2012

Young Adult Books and the blogging process

Zarr, Sara. How to Save a Life.
Jill and her mother are reeling from the death of Jill's father in a car accident. Jill just tries to get through her day, taking a little solace from her job at a big box bookstore and her sometimes boyfriend, Dylan. Her mother, however, cracks and decides to adopt a baby. She finds out about Mandy from an online forum, and lets her move into their house until the baby is born. The problem is that Mandy has lied about how pregnant she is and doesn't want any legal documents signed, so Jill and her mother try to make Mandy as happy in their home as they can. Mandy has been abused by her mother's boyfriend, but she wants to think that the baby is the result of a one night stand with a boy she felt she could love. Mandy wants to stay with Jill and her mother forever, but as the birth of the baby comes closer, she realizes that she has to deal with the problems she left behind in her previous life before she can move ahead and go on with life after the baby.
Strengths: Zarr does fabulous books with loads of raw, emotional power to them. This is definitely YA that adults will enjoy.
Weaknesses: This is more for high school students. Not only does the abuse by the stepfather move this into that realm, Jill's relationship with Dylan isn't quite suitable for middle school, either. Too bad. Also, I couldn't help but identify with the mother and think she was completely insane. Her husband is gone, her daughter will be in college soon, and instead of planning a cruise to the Bahamas, she wants to start all over with a baby? Absolutely not buying it! Four teenagers in the house is starting to feel a little like an infestation!

And while we're at it, a couple of books that looked REALLY good but are definitely Young Adult.

St. Claire, Roxanne. Don't You Wish.
From the Publisher: "When plain and unpopular Annie Nutter gets zapped by one of her dad's whacked-out inventions, she lands in a parallel universe where her life becomes picture-perfect. Now she's Ayla Monroe, daughter of the same mother but a different father-and she's the gorgeous, rich queen bee of her high school. In this universe, Ayla lives in glitzy Miami instead of dreary Pittsburgh and has beaucoup bucks, courtesy of her billionaire-if usually absent-father. Her friends hit the clubs, party backstage at concerts, and take risks that are exhilirating . . . and illegal. Here she's got a date to lose her V-card with the hottest guy she's ever seen. But on the inside, Ayla is still Annie. So when she's offered the chance to leave the dream life and head home to Pittsburgh, will she take it? The choice isn't as simple as you think.
Why this didn't work for me: Smoking joints in school, too much sex-- loved the premise a lot, but just not going to work in my school!

Thomas, Lex. Quaranteen: The Loners.

From the Publisher: "When a virus deadly to adults infects their high school, brothers David and Will and the other students soon break into gangs that fight each other for survival and the hope of escaping their quarantine. "

Why this didn't work for me: F-bomb on page 7. Teen drinking. General vulgarity. Read more like an adult novel. Argh.

About the Blogging Process:
Whew. I finally figured out how to schedule posts in mid January, so have been trying to become much more organized about themes and memes and all that. I'm also trying to blog about more books for boys, and include more nonfiction, since next year our language arts curriculum is supposed to embrace the Common Core. Still trying to figure out exactly what that is.

I have been getting a lot more ARCs. This is good, but the vast majority of them are young adult girl books. I can understand this, because teenaged girls probably buy more books than 12 year old boys, but it does make me feel bad. I am glad to get the ARCs and want to mention them, but many aren't really anything that I need for my student population. I also need to get better about saying "no" to books that are independently published, since it's nearly impossible to get hardcover or prebind copies for my library.

Definitely makes me think that concentrating on books for boys is still important. While February was devoted to books with characters of color, in March (even though it's Women's History Month)I'm going to try to be better about leading posts with books for boys.

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