Influence by Sara Shepard; Lilia Buckingham Pub Date: 05 Jan 2021 Read courtesy of http://netgalley.com
Glad I stuck with it! Went from an almost DNF to 3 stars to 4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐. Might have been my disinterest, disdain, or dread of the effect social media has on this generation of teens that initially had me turned off, but as the plot developed, there was a real story behind all of the 'influencing' going on. [Get your cringe ready for an "in my day" story... when I was a teen, we were only worried if our business got out there if the teacher intercepted a note we passed in class or a parent picked up the extension of the phone while we were on the line.]
I read the beginning trying to deny or dismiss the reality that so many teens hope they'll be the next Internet sensation and monetize their notoriety. I didn't just want to be reading about the wannabes and cliques. By persisting, I was gifted with a well-crafted story that highlighted the not-so-glamorous side of teen Internet fame as well as the public perks. I'm sure Sara Shepard's fandom will be hooked on Influence as much as they are on Pretty Little Liars. Even readers unfamiliar with the Pretty Little Liars series (insert blush and finger-pointing here) will become engrossed as the author deftly crafted false leads as to whom the murderer could have been. I liked flip-flopping my choice of criminal as the story progressed.
There's something for everyone in the book: physical and mental illnesses, friendships and back-stabbing, romances and break-ups, straight and gay, good home lives and dysfunctional families, and race-fluid characters. parties and murder. This will be a great addition to my HS library. Posted by Pseudandry at 7/29/2020 08:37:00 AM
by Marisa Reichardt
Pub Date: 29 Sep 2020
read courtesy of http://netgalley.com
At first I wondered how the author was going to have a whole book told by someone caught in the rubble of an earthquake, but I was pleasantly surprised by the use of flashbacks and storytelling by the trapped characters. Then the narration changed as the story changed (I don't want to tell how, since that would be a spoiler. I'll just say that flashbacks were no longer needed.)
I loved everything about the book with the exception of the lead character's (Ruby) 'best friend' Mila. No one handled her situation well - not the adults (her school, her parents) nor her friends. True, sometimes it takes a literal Earth-shattering event to wise up, but it's a shame the character was allowed to get so far gone that only a natural disaster helped her. I'm reluctant to say it, but I felt that the Mila character was there just so Ruby could have something in common with Charlie. Though, I will admit, alcohol is a major problem with teenagers, so it's quite possible that any two teens would have a Mila or a Jason in common. And if it weren't for the alcohol, Ruby and Charlie never would have met.
The characters were real and developed. Though I'm someone who has never experienced a natural disaster, the author's clear and descriptive writing allowed me to sympathize with the characters' ordeals; I was able to ebb and flow with their hopes and despairs. The author was also realistic in developing the characters' experiences and growth. This was truly realistic fiction not watered down with magical thinking. I can't wait to put this into my high school library.
Book Review: Like Spilled Water
by Jennie Liu
Pub Date 01 Sep 2020
Read courtesy of http://netgalley.com
This is a novel of regret, so it's a review filled with regrets.
I feel regret for the unlucky readers who found this book too long or too slow. It's not an action novel; it's an emotional one. It's reflective of the societal norms to not reveal one's troubles encapsulated into a story. I am grateful to have been able to enter and understand a world different from my own.
I regret that that I read other's reviews before reading the book; they gave away even more than the author did with her clues as to Bao-bao's fate. Jennie Liu hinted early that something was off about Na's brother's death, but she did so for literary movement, not to include a spoiler. I am grateful that the author skillfully cast doubt for the reader.
I regret Na's and Bao-bao's perceptions of their lost youth and their parents' perceptions of the purpose of children. I am grateful that the story ends with an ending that Na can live with.
I regret that Gilbert and Na's friendship encounters so many obstacles, but I am grateful that Na meets Min, who offers a different kind of friendship.
I regret watching Na and Bao-bao's unwavering parents live by ancient philosophies. I am grateful that I've been exposed to another culture's standards and been witness to how a culture changes between generations.
I regret not yet reading Liu's other book yet, "Girls on the Line." I am grateful that I now want to read more by this author, and I cannot wait to put this into the hands of my high school readers.
I regret that I cannot give "Like Spilled Water" 5⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ for literary prose, but I'm grateful that I can for an accessible, non-judgmental, multi-story line plot that makes me think outside of myself.
How to Pack for the End of the World by Michelle Falkoff Pub Date: 10 Nov 2020 read courtesy of http://netgalley.com Put five different competitive high schoolers together to see who can survive hypothetical apocalyptic disasters, and you get five unique interesting challenges. Falkoff crafted an entertaining story that expertly incorporated five different characterizations into the survival scenarios. I found some fairly profound truths in this story that resonated with me: (1) "I hated that I tended to assume people were straight unless they indicated otherwise." (2) "Funny how different it felt, having a crush versus liking someone who liked you back. I'd had butterflies with Hunter, but they'd made me feel a little bit sick. Wyatt made me feel nothing but happy." (3) "We'd been so fixated on managing big-picture problems that we hadn't yet learned how to deal with the day-to-day complexities of being ourselves..." Unfortunately, the author used some standard YA story formulas that I tend to dislike. For example the characters don't tell others how they feel but then expect others to be mind readers and act a certain way. In addition, this author actually comes out and has a character articulate another overused plot line "...where we need to help ourselves because the adults weren't going to be of much use." Throughout the book, the lead character Amina frequently claims she doesn't know her friends as well as they know her. The purpose of this characterization is so she can eventually prove she does end up knowing one her friends better than her other friends do. The repetitive self-deprecation, however, is annoyingly tedious. Nonetheless, I like the ending in which the characters learn to be " ...less concerned with what we put in our go-bags and more about how to use cooperation and empathy to prevent the things we were so scared of from happening." I only wish that Falkoff had listened to her own advice. Why was it necessary for her to call out 'Republican' vs. 'Democrat' in a doomsday scenario in which a Republican was so "unpopular" that he got elected for a third and fourth term? Since the good messages outweigh the trite precepts, I will enjoy putting this book into the hands of my high schoolers.
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