Sunday, March 24, 2019

Field Notes on Love

Smith, Jennider E. Field Notes on Love
March 5th 2019 by Delacorte Press
Public Library Copy

Hugo is a sextuplet, and has grown up in the shadow of his brothers and sisters. As they graduate from high school and head to university, Hugo knows he should be grateful to the full ride scholarship the group has to the local college in Surrey, England, but he also wants to be his own person. He and his girlfriend, Margaret Campbell, have a summer train trip across the US planned, but when she dumps him, she lets him have the tickets. Only problem-- they are nonrefundable, and issued in her name. He puts out feelers on social media for another Margaret Campbell in the US who would be willing to take the trip, and has almost settled on an octagenarian when it turns out she has to have surgery. Instead, he decides to travel with Mae, who is going from New York to college at USC. She lies to her fathers and tells them that she is meeting up with roommates, and takes off. The two hit it off immediately and have a number of cross country adventures, many centering on Mae's film making efforts. Hugo is debating whether he should return and go to university with his siblings, and Mae is glad to be making the trip, since her grandmother had made a similar one in her youth. Near the end of their travels, family emergencies intervene, but the two realize that they have a deep connection.
Strengths: Anyone else a complete and total sucker for stories like Before Sunrise? Instant connection, swoony romance, epic travel... sigh. Like this author's The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, this is a harmonic convergence of everything I love in a YA romance. Like Kasie West, this author does a top notch YA romance that is also appropriate for middle school students.
Weaknesses: While I appreciate the diversity in having Hugo be biracial and in Mae having two fathers, neither was really developed and felt a bit like an afterthought. Also, I can't call this a "clean" romance (since that is apparently perjoratively judgmental about young people who don't make choices that would follow the long-held preconceptions for that label)  and am not quite sure what to call it. Non-instructional?
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, and looking for more like this!

Mendes, Yamile Saied. Blizzard Besties
December 26th 2018 by Scholastic Inc.
Public Library Copy

Vanesa is super excited that her family is going on a real vacation to a ski resort and not to visit family. She's read about all of the teen activities, from ski lessons to s'more making, and can't wait. When the family arrives, she has a run in with the daughter of the people who own the resort, and she and Beck don't get along. After her parents go to get massages, Vanesa decides not to wake her brother Hunter up to go to ski lessons, but leaves a note for him to stay put. She meets twins Eric and Erica, has a good lesson with Bryce, and when she comes back to the room, Hunter is gone! Seeing that his boots are gone, Vanesa borrows skis and goes after him with Beck. A storm is approaching, but luckily, the girls find him at the children's lodge. They all hole up there, and eventually Bryce finds them. When the power is cut, the children start to worry, especially after Hunter has an asthma attack and the land line goes out as well. Will everyone get along and survive, and more importantly, will Vanesa be able to keep up her texting streak with her friend group back home?
Strengths: This is the winter version of a beach read. Fast paced, lots of drama, and a dog as well. This is the first book I've seen by this author, and I'm looking forward to Random Acts of Kittens (2020).
Weaknesses: I did not like Vanesa and her addiction to her phone. Younger readers will probably be much more sympathetic, but as a parent, I just wanted to get her a dumb phone and be done with her nonsense!
What I really think: I buy the Follett bond versions of these for my insatiable romance readers, who love the Wish novels, especially the Suzanne Nelson ones with food on the cover. This didn't have enough romance for those readers, so I may pass on purchase.

Ms. Yingling

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