High School


5M4B disclosure

joy schoolI’ve read Elizabeth Berg’s fiction for adults and a writing book she wrote. I enjoy her voice and her characters. Brilliance audio released her novel Joy School on audiobook late last year. I didn’t realize it was a Young Adult book until I started listening, but I feel like I enjoyed the sort of coming-of-age story as much or more as the target audience would.

Fourteen-year-old Katie Nash is an interesting character. Her dad is in the military, so she’s recently moved and isn’t sure where she fits in at school. Her uncertainties and desire to find her niche come through loud and clear. Her uncertainties about herself are amplified, because her mother has passed away, and so there are things that she has trouble communicating with her father, who can be distant and even a bit mean.

All of sudden her life begins to change. She decides to make her own kind of joy school. She finds a couple of friends who are both different from her and from each other. She develops an unlikely friendship with a man in his 20s whom she immediately develops a crush on. It’s the impossibility of her fantasies becoming reality that ultimately help her take the next step in maturity.

One odd thing about this book is the timeframe. I’m not sure if the target audience would connect with the setting of the 1960s (I think. It isn’t really made clear exactly when it is). It’s not written like historical fiction, but rather almost as if it were written during that actual time, which is a different style of writing.


Natalie Ross read the book. She didn’t sound like a young teen, however she did a great job of capturing that earnest self-searching tone that brings Katie’s story to life. You can hear a sample on Brilliance Audio’s page.


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Just Call My Name

I read I’ll Be There to get up to speed on the characters whose story continues in Holly Goldberg Sloan’s new book Just Call My Name. The first book was fine. The characters certainly intrigued me, but I wasn’t 100% wowed. Wanting to follow the characters, and especially knowing there was another book hat was going to continue the story kept me reading. This book had a stronger pacing than the first one. Maybe it’s just because the scene was set, and I already knew the characters and the situation. The characters each had a lot of growth during this novel, and new characters were introduced as well. The background from the first novel that led into the story is this: Seventeen-year-old Emily is singing
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Subway Love

Jonas is struggling through a summer in NYC. It’s kind of hot, he’s kind of bored, and he’s ticked off at his dad who left his mom for another woman. Laura is struggling a bit too. Her older brother is a total hippie, rebelling against authority, using mind-altering drugs. Her mother has shacked up with a guy closer to her brother’s age than her own. Her parents are divorced too, so she spends time commuting between her mom’s home in Woodstock and her Dad’s apartment in NYC. Jonas and Laura meet on the subway one day, but they are truly star-crossed lovers. They have to hurdle time and space and schedules and brothers and friends to be together, not to mention the pleas of a
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Deep Blue

I frequently enjoy YA books, as they may be meant for teenagers but still appeal to the kid in me, too. Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly felt more like a book that needs a teenage girl to truly appreciate it. This first book in the Waterfire series is set under the ocean and features the world of mermaids. Serafina is the princess of Miromara, and she is getting ready to celebrate her Dokimi, which is a series of tests that prove that she is ready to take on the mantle of ruler one day once her mother dies – as this is a matrilineal society and the men don’t rule. It is also when her betrothal to a prince from another kingdom will become official. In
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The Revealed

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Me and You

Lorenzo is a 14-year-old boy. He’s a bit of a misfit, and though his parents support him, they wish he would make more friends. He’s been under the care of a therapist trying to help him reach out (I think he’s somewhere mildly on the spectrum). He himself vacillates between being happy on his own and wanting to fit in with the others at school. This desire to fit in causes him to fantasize about tagging along on the ski trip he hears the popular kids talking about. He voices the fantasy to his mom, which results in a spiraling lie that ends up with him spending the ski week hiding out alone in the basement of his building. He’s an only child, sort of.
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Happy to Be Alive, Because

Avery has a summer to remember. It doesn’t start off that way, far from it. During her senior year in high school, her mom got cancer. When she passed away, Avery was lost. Her mother is all she has, and all the plans she made in her last year of high school — like staying at the local community college after she graduates — were all made so she could help care for her mother. After receiving yet another casserole from a well-meaning friends, she feels like she has to get away. When she finds some tickets and a travel itinerary for a trip her mother hoped to take with her to her hometown on the beach. Avery decides to take the trip alone in
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Love and Other Foreign Words, a 5-Star Read

Josie is a precocious 16-year-old girl. She loves languages, and she’s become an expert at all of the languages she hears each day: her best friend Stu speak (even Stu Chewing), those of her volleyball teammates at school, the college kids she sees each day in her Early College Program, sisters, fiancees, parents and more. The word most on her mind is love. Her older sister Kate says she’s in love, but Josie knows Geoffrey Stephen Brill is not right for her. She can’t be in love with him. Kate, he’s the single most uninteresting person in the world. You’re not really going to marry him, are you? Is this a delayed rebellion? Is this the boyfriend you should have had when you were sixteen
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5 YA Books to Read to Get Ready for the Movies, 2014 {Friday’s Five}

The Fault in Our Stars – June 6 There’s been a lot of talk in the #kidlit world about the fact that John Green’s book isn’t the only popular, well-written, well-reviewed YA book out there, but to listen to mainstream press, you might think it is. No, it’s not. It’s good, and he’s good, and I think the movie will be good, so it definitely belongs on this list. The movie comes out first, so I’m including it at the top of the list. I think that people will want to pick up the book after they see it, but I’m urging you to go ahead and take a couple of days and read it before you see it. Or not. I don’t really care
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Why Adults,Teens, and John Green are excited about The Fault in Stars movie #TFIOS

I’m excited about The Fault in Our Stars movie, are you? I am glad that I reviewed the book way back in 2012 before it was all the rage, though John Green was a popular YA author before this blockbuster of a book. My 15 1/2 year old daughter Amanda got to be a part of a phone interview with John Green. Hearing his excitement about the movie is contagious. He was honest and humorous: I would tell you if it sucked. Well, actually probably they probably wouldn’t let me do this call if it sucked. But, no, it really was, it was so special. I was just ridiculously lucky. This was one of the pictures that was released that got Amanda really excited, and
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Hidden Like Anne Frank: 14 True Stories of Survival

Though Anne Frank’s personal story is likely the best known tale of hiding from the Nazis during World War II, hers was one of many. Too many to even imagine. Marcel Prins and Peter Henk Steenhuis have worked to gather and share more accounts from Jewish people who survived this terrible time hiding in the Netherlands, which was occupied by the Germans during the war. Hidden Like Anne Frank: 14 True Stories of Survival is a challenging read, filled with emotion and horror, but with reminders of human kindness and bravery. In the foreword, it is stated that about 28,000 Jews went into hiding in the Netherlands, with about 16,000 ultimately surviving, while the other roughly 12,000 were caught or betrayed. The stories included in this collection tell of
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We Were Liars

The note from the publisher at the beginning of the egalley of e. lockhart’s We Were Liars warns readers to enjoy the book but not to find out anything about this book. I honestly try to approach most books that way. I avoid reviews and I don’t even re-read the jacket copy when I finally get around to reading a book that has been sitting on my shelf. I promise this review won’t contain any nods to plot elements you don’t need to know, and I’d suggest you avoid spoilers so that you can enjoy this book as it’s intended as well. I wanted to love this book. It seemed intriguing. It was well-written and clever. I might be teetering on YA overload, which happens
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