realistic fiction (4)

Once Was Lost - Book Review

Samara Taylor is the fifteen year old daughter of a pastor workaholic and a mother who has been drinking so much, that she has landed herself into New Beginnings Recovery Center; her father wants to “officially tell” the congregation when he feels it is right, which is never. Sam is at a point in her life that she is questioning everything; the air conditioning is broken in their house, her ceiling fan is not working, it is the middle of a heat wave, the outside of the house looks like a disaster, all the while her father plunges himself into his congregation while Sam’s world is falling apart. Sam has been the one who has seen her mother drink because of the stress of being a pastor’s wife. Since Sam is the pastor’s daughter, she is part of the youth group and she is afraid of sharing, thinks she might be depressed, and is questioning why now that she is in high school, she is not feeling the understanding, friendship and bonding that she grew up believing existed in her community. Just as Sam is at her lowest, Jody Shaw, a sweet thirteen year old, disappears and the whole town is rocked to the core. There are searches in fields, house to house, and suspicions about suspects begin to permeate throughout the town. As Sam worries about what once was lost, she is also determined to talk to her mother in rehab, bring her home, and faithfully work on a family unit. This is a story of a young teen able to weather an internal storm of doubt and emerge a more secure, stronger daughter and friend. Students will love Zarr’s masterful storytelling, she weaves an engrossing tale of love and the power to heal.
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My rating: <a href="">5 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
Well Ms Jack and her Pop Contemp Lit students----I FINALLY read this book!!! And yes, I agree everyone (who loves YA lit)should read read this book.  Charlie is one of those teens who asks many, many questions.  He has thoughts and feelings on almost everything and his letters to this anonymous person really speak about his confusion, yet his hyper-awareness, and his awkwardness.  At first I thought he might have (as my sister calls it - an ism)a personality quirk but he is just trying to find his place after the suicide of one of his good friends. I felt sorry for Charlie as he makes friends in high school;he seemed to remember never having family touch him, complement him, or tell him they loved him. His family wasn't dysfunctional in any way, so I am thinking that as he got older, he appreciated through his friends--that there was meanigful conversation, hugs, kisses, etc. and he doesn't remember it as a child??? Does he block it out (because of Aunt Helen) and as he matures, he figures things out.  I particulary enjoyed his music, TV, book, and movie references thoughout.  His friends Sam and Patrick, beloved teacher, and jock Penn State brother and snarky senior sister were perfect foils and in the end, perfect brother and sister to Charlie.  A must read, the reluctant readers will like the compactness of the book, the readers will gobble up all the drama - promiscuity, homosexuality, abuse, drinking and drugs, it has all the elements teens (boys and girls) will enjoy and see how Charlie finds his place in the world.
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After Ever After by Jordan Sonneblick

What a wonderful follow up to Drums Girls and Dangerous Pie!!! Jeffrey and Tad's friendship, their survival of cancer when they were much younger, and their ongoing pledge to each other to help Jeff in Math and Tad walk across the 8th grade graduation stage are the signs of true friendship. Lindsey is wonderful as the new girl who likes Jeffrey despite his limp from chemo. Steven, Jeff's older brother has taken a year off from school, from life and to Jeffrey, it seems like he has been abandoned by his older brother. But this book has the humor of all of Sonneblick's books, even when dealing with very sad subjects. You laugh and you cry and that is a good thing when reading books. I learned so much about cancer from both of Sonneblick's books and I definitely recommend this to readers from grades 8 to adult, his books are inspiring, humorous and touching.
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Girl Stolen by April Henry

I loved Girl Stolen! I know my students will too! Imagine you are in your back seat, sick, waiting for your stepmom to pick up your medication and someone (not your stepmom) jumps in the car and speeds off! And on top of that, you are blind, that is what happens to Cheyenne Wilder. Cheyenne is totally believable as a strong female protagonist. The reader finds out later that she succumbed to weakness, pity and wanting to die after her accident and resulting blindness but she has worked hard to regain her life, maybe not as she knew it before, but some semblance of a life with a guide dog, a cane, family and friends. The students/readers will relate to Griffin as a teen who has had a very tough life, a nasty, mean father who makes money the wrong way and doesn't care in the least about anyone. But both Griffin and Cheyenne have different kinds of hope and that is what propels the suspense and drama in this numbing story of a car theft gone terribly awry. Will Cheyenne use her heightened senses to save herself? Will Griffin save Cheyenne? This story is one wild ride from start to finish, and you will not be disappointed! For those who love mysteries and suspense and for the reluctant reader as well!
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