Sunday, November 25, 2012

Young Adult Titles

CrusherLeonard, Niall. Crusher.
11 September 2012, Delacorte
ARC received from YABC and reviewed there.

Finn's stepfather is an alcoholic former actor who can't find work and so is working on a screen play. Finn, who is dyslexic, flunked out of school and is working at Max Snax, supplementing the two's income. When his stepfather is brutally murdered, Finn is suspected by Detective Prendergast. Finn starts to think that the work he his stepfather was doing somehow compromised the efforts of the local violent mob boss, McGovern, and sets out to see if this is the case. Finn manages to save McGovern's son from drowning, so the man sets him up with a job washing dishes at the Iron Bridge restaurant. Finn discovers all manner of other  crime going on, and manages to hook up with Prendergast's daughter Zoe, who thinks that Finn is a criminal element and would be useful in making her father angry. Finn's mother arrives on the scene, Finn finds out that a friend of his step father's has left him a lot of money, and slowly, the pieces of several mysteries come together.
Strengths: I'm sure that my students would LOVE to read this-- there's sex, the f-bomb every couple of pages, brutal murders, and a fair amount of drinking. Also, a rather happy, deus ex machina end to the story. It was an entertaining way for me to while away a Saturday afternoon.
Weaknesses: See above. This really is so adult that it doesn't even belong in a high school library. Zoe's, uh, proclivities are colorfully described. The language is rank. After I read the book, I felt kind of bad that I had read it!

This Is Not a DrillMcDowell, Beck. This is Not a Drill.
25 October 2012, Nancy Paulsen Books
ARC received from YABC and reviewed there.

Emery and Jake have had their romantic ups and downs, but are able to work together in Mrs. Campbell's first French grade class as helpers. Their skills dealing with small children are severely tested when the fathers of one of the boys shows up and demands to take his son. Not being content to work matters out in the office, he comes back, shoots a security guard, and holds the entire classroom hostage. It slowly comes to light that Brian Stutts fought in Iraq, and suffered so badly from PTSD that his wife left him and doesn't allow him to see his son as often as he would like. The point of view switches from Emery to Jake, and their chapters also include information about their pasts and relationships. The teacher, Mrs. Campbell, passes out from diabetic shock, and the two teens have to keep the agitated first graders quiet and have to try not to set off Stutts.
Strengths: This was a compelling read on a topic of current interest. While the main story was about the gunman and how he came to be so psychologically unhinged, I found the side story about Emery and Jake's' relationship to be just as interesting.
Weaknesses:  A few changes in language and sexual situations could have made this a good choice for middle grade students, too, but as written is more appropriate for high school students.

Love and Other Perishable ItemsBuzo, Laura. Love and Other Perishable Items
11 December 2012

Amelia, who is 15, has just gotten a job at the Coles supermarket, where she feels as awkward as she does everywhere else. Her parents are unhappy and busy, her sister is off at college, school is boring, and she just doesn't seem to fit in anywhere. Chris, who also works at the supermarket, is nice to her but gives her a hard time for being a "youngster"... he's 21. Their bickering turns in to a deeper attraction, and we see the relationship progress in chapters alternating between Amelia and Chris' points of view. Chris is desperately searching for the perfect woman, and is alarmed to come to the realization that Amelia may be it.
Strengths: This was a very well done romance, but definitely high school, due to Chris' prediliction for dropping the f-bomb all over his journal entries. I liked the fact that they were attracted to each other but didn't do anything about it because of the age difference.
Weaknesses: So hard to find good romances for middle school girls! They end up reading Nicholas Sparks' books that family members give them, which is not quite right either!

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