Book Reviews

A Slave, a Caliph, a Vampire, a Swimmer, and One Very Twisted 7th Grade Class

The great thing about reading young adult literature the way some people approach eating more greens is that when something is good, it is surprisingly good. Like: no way, there’s broccoli in this? Do I like broccoli now? Check me out, liking broccoli! I become inspired to try more.

This is what happened. I was started eating the greens and finished something really satisfying. This happened not too long after finishing another equally great book. I realized I can do young adult, especially when the books have imperfect characters. I love male protagonists. I am almost never ready to face the crucible of paranormal romances. Ancient civilization settings and retellings are my weaknesses.

Here’s a few I’ve read in the last few months.

A Slave, a Caliph, a Vampire, a Swimmer, and One Very Twisted 7th Grade ClassAn Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
Published by Penguin LCC US Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 464
Buy on Amazon //Check out from Library

Laia is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire's greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

4.5 stars. Maybe 5. So, so great. Tahir had me at “inspired by the Roman Empire.” Public Radio International described it perfectly as having “the addictive quality of The Hunger Games combined with the fantasy of Harry Potter and the brutality of Game of Thrones. I can’t put it in the library–I don’t think, need to discuss with principal–but I’m still happy I read it. So many fabulous talking points with teens, if only I had the chance! This is one I’d immediately approve as a high school librarian.

I could not finish this book. It had everything I dislike about young adult literature, which disappointed me tremendously since going in I thought I would love it based on all the tropes it hit. 1) The insanely beautiful female protagonist who had no idea she was beautiful, despite the boys clamoring to be with her. She was also smart, funny, witty, shrewd, loyal, had hair of onyx, skin like velvet, and was a wonderful daughter. Did I mention she might have incredibly strong but long-hidden magical powers? 2) The moody male protagonist who was just misunderstood. He murders women, but he does it for the greater good. She’s totally going to fix him. 3) Love triangle. Of course who childhood friend has been in love with her all this time. She kind of sort of likes him back, but it’s all so confusing. Decisions, decisions. 4) Adults? What adults? 5) Heavy handed symbolism and imagery, bizarre themes. Shahrzad has onyx hair. Khalid has gold eyes. His competition, the childhood friend, has silver eyes (yes, she really did). You could make a drinking game out of the number of times she references a jewel or mineral.

This book popped up as a recommendation on GoodReads because it had over 3 million in sales and glowing reviews. I didn’t pay much attention on Amazon or I would have immediately realized it’s self published. I have no problem with self publishing and have read some great books that way, but this isn’t one of them. I’m giving the book one star because it takes guts and perseverance to write and publish a book.

YG recommended this book to me, and I loved it. Add this one to my dream high school library. Chris Crutcher writes with a confidence and familiarity that suggests a prior career working with young adults. The angst–there’s always angst–isn’t maudlin or sentimental. The Good/Bad Guys were a bit one dimensional and the ending juddered to a stop with red bows streaming, but it wasn’t anything intolerable. 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4

Even the young adult books are dark in Denmark. This is the book I spoke of the other day on Facebook. This book, an existential, modern-day Lord of the Flies, was insane. It was edgy and disturbing and thought provoking, so of course I loved it. It was a Michael Printz Honor book 2011 but, though already hailed as a classic in Europe, it’s been poorly received in the United States. We like our 7th graders to moon over classmates and make awkward social decisions. We don’t like them doing…that. Seriously, this book is not for the faint of heart. My favorite hate-it review is this one. That is one pissed of grandma.

Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

Fuzzy Mud by Louis SacharFuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar
Published by Random House Children's Books on August 4th 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Social Issues, Bullying, Nature & the Natural World, Environment
Pages: 192
Goodreads

From the author of the acclaimed bestseller Holes, winner of the Newbery Award and the National Book Award, comes a new middle-grade novel with universal appeal. Combining horror-movie suspense with the issues of friendship, bullying, and the possibility of ecological disaster, this novel will intrigue, surprise, and inspire readers and compel them to think twice about how they treat others as well as their environment. Be careful. Your next step may be your last.Fifth grader Tamaya Dhilwaddi and seventh grader Marshall Walsh have been walking to and from Woodridge Academy together since elementary school. But their routine is disrupted when bully Chad Hilligas challenges Marshall to a fight. To avoid the conflict, Marshall takes a shortcut home through the off-limits woods. Tamaya, unaware of the reason for the detour, reluctantly follows. They soon get lost. And then they find trouble. Bigger trouble than anyone could ever have imagined. In the days and weeks that follow, the authorities and the U.S. Senate become involved, and what they uncover might affect the future of the world.From the Hardcover edition.

School is right around the corner, so right now I’m planning my read alouds for the year. I loved reading the Mercy Watson series to the 1st grade. It was a great way for me to introduce to the little ones the idea of award winning books (Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride was a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book in 2007 ) and promote quality children’s literature. The party was loads of fun, too! I don’t know how much read aloud time I’ll be allotted during the school day this year, but my hope is that each class has their own book and party.

Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar is my read aloud pick for the 6th grade. I’m calling it a humorous eco-thriller.

SunRay Farm is the producer of Biolene, a clean energy alternative to gasoline made of slime mold.

We began with simple slime mold, but Fitzy altered its DNA to create something new: a single-celled living creature that is totally unnatural to this planet. SunRay Farm is now growing these man-made microorganisms–these tiny Frankensteins–so that they can burn them alive inside automobile engines.

Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar

The story has alternating 1st person perspectives (Tamaya and Marshall) interspersed with senate hearing transcripts once SunRay Farm’s questionable ecological practices come to light. SunRay Farm is dumping Biolene in the forest behind a private school. The tiny Frankensteins, “ergonyms,” begin to multiply.

The following is more of Jonathan Fitzman’s testimony from the secret Senate hearings:

Senator March: Excuse me, Mr. Fitzman, but I’m having a hard time getting my head wrapped around this. You said there are more than a trillion of your ergonyms in every gallon of Biolene.

Jonathan Fitzman: A lot more.

Senator March: These are man-made organisms, right? So how could you possibly make that many?

Jonathan Fitzman: [Laughs.] You’re right. That would be impossible. I had to make only one.

Senator March: I don’t understand.

Jonathan Fitzman: One ergonym, capable of reproduction. That was the hardest part. That’s what took me so long. The first few ergies I made were unable to survive the cell division process. The poor little fellows kept exploding.

Senator March: What do you mean, exploding?

Jonathan Fitzman: Kaboom! [Laughs.] In the lab, we can watch the images from the electron microscope projected onto a giant computer screen. It’s quite cool. Every time one of my ergies got to the cell division stage—kaboom!—it looked like the Fourth of July.

Senator Wright: But eventually, I take it, you were able to create an ergonym that didn’t explode?

Jonathan Fitzman: The perfect ergonym. It took two and a half years and five hundred million dollars, but we did it. One little ergie. And thirty-six minutes later, we had two. The second one was an exact copy of the first. And thirty-six minutes after that, four. Then eight. Then sixteen. Every thirty-six minutes, the population just keeps on doubling.

Senator March: Even so, to get the trillions of ergies you need for just one gallon of Biolene, it would take years.

Jonathan Fitzman: Not at all. Do the math. In twelve hours we had more than a million of the little guys, and by the next afternoon, more than a trillion. [Sings.] One little, two little, three little ergonyms. Four little, five little, six little ergonyms.

Tamaya, Marshall, and Craig come in contact with the fuzzy mud made of ergonyms and develop a blistery rash that bleeds and oozes puss. It sounds terrifying, but it’s done in a quasi-humorous way that is more gross than scary. Ultimately, there’s a happy ending.

I’m excited about the multiple talking points this book affords me. In less than 200 pages we get to explore social issues, economic issues, civics/politics, and the environment. The last one I’m especially excited to touch upon with the kids as it allows me to share with them Pope Francis’s latest encyclical on the environment called Laudato Si’. I may first have to explain to them what an encyclical is!

A papal document treating of matters related to the general welfare of the Church, sent by the Pope to the bishops. Used especially in modern times to express the mind of the Pope to the people. Although of themselves not infallible documents, encyclicals may (and generally do) contain pronouncements on faith and morals that are de facto infallible because they express the ordinary teaching of the Church. In any case, the faithful are to give the papal encyclicals their interior assent and external respect as statements of the Vicar of Christ. (Etym. Latin encyclicus; Greek enkyklios, circular, general.) [source]

Laudato Si’ is entirely about the environment and our role in climate change. You can read it for free online on the Vatican website or as a .PDF. You can also buy a copy of it formatted for ereaders and print. Pope Francis ruffled feathers from the 1st paragraph.

1. “LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”.[1]

2. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters.

Nothing in this world is indifferent to us

I love Pope Francis.

I love Fuzzy Mud, too. I’m hoping the kids like it just as much because I’m already brimming with party ideas.

We Were Liars

We Were LiarsWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Published by Random House Children's Books on 2014-05-13
Genres: Death & Dying, Emotions & Feelings, Family, General, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 240
Goodreads

A New York Times Bestseller"Haunting, sophisticated . . . a novel so twisty and well-told that it will appeal to older readers as well as to adolescents."--Wall Street Journal"A rich, stunning summer mystery with a sharp twist that will leave you dying to talk about the book with a pal or ten."--Parade.com"Thrilling, beautiful, and blisteringly smart, We Were Liars is utterly unforgettable." - John Green, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars"You’re going to want to remember the title. Liars details the summers of a girl who harbors a dark secret, and delivers a satisfying, but shocking twist ending." - Breia Brissey, Entertainment Weekly. A beautiful and distinguished family.A private island.A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.A revolution. An accident. A secret.Lies upon lies.True love.The truth. We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. Read it.And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE."An ambitious novel with an engaging voice, a clever plot and some terrific writing."--New York Times Book Review"No one should be talking about the shocking twist ending. What we can talk about is...[Lockhart's] razor-sharp portrayal of a family for whom keeping up appearances is paramount and, ultimately, tragic."--The Chicago TribuneFrom the Hardcover edition.

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I knew how it would end after she woke up alone. I thought this was going to have a shocking ending, something completely unexpected. The reviews were glowing.

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The book was predictable from beginning to end. There wasn’t a shadow of doubt in my mind what would happen, which I would share but I’ve always promised spoiler-free reviews. How it happened was disappointing. Lockhart made a lazy plot decision. Too easy, to trite, too boring.

I could see
the ending
from a mile away
and could feel the feels because
there were so many feels
because teenagers feel the feels
nope

That’s the kind of free form poetry that would drop onto the page out of nowhere, usually following the purplest of purple prose to ever purple a page.

Here is the main character telling us how it felt when her dad left her mom for another woman.

Then he pulled out a handgun and shot me in the chest. I was standing on the lawn and I fell. The bullet hole opened wide and my heart rolled out of my rib cage and down into a flower bed. Blood gushed rhythmically from my open wound,
then from my eyes,
my ears,
my mouth.

I think she’s upset.

This overly dramatic steaming mound of purple littered the book. Also, not for nothing, but that’s the most asinine piece of writing I’ve read in a long time. If your heart rolled into a flower bed, your open wound is not pumping, rhythmically or otherwise. It’s gaping.

Here is the main character telling us about a migraine.

A witch has been standing there behind me for some time, waiting for a moment of weakness. She holds an ivory statue of a goose. It is intricately carved. I turn and admire it only for a moment before she swings it with shocking force. It connects, crushing a hole in my forehead. I can feel my bone come loose. The witch swings the statue again and hits above my right ear, smashing my skull. Blow after blow she lands, until tiny flakes of bone litter the bed and mingle with chipped bits of her once-beautiful goose.

Here is the main character telling us about another migraine.

In Europe, I vomited into small buckets and brushed my teeth repeatedly with chalky British toothpaste. I lay prone on the bathroom floors of several museums, feeling the cold tile underneath my cheek as my brain liquefied and seeped out my ear, bubbling. Migraines left my blood spreading across unfamiliar hotel sheets, dripping on the floors, oozing into carpets, soaking through leftover croissants and Italian lace cookies.

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I had a migraine on Monday. Here’s how I described it to the Mister when I talked to him that night.

I have a migraine.

Then came the fairytales. The fairytales that tried to give back-story and move the plot forward while attempting to hide from the reader that the main character really just did an obscene amount of telling and not a lot of doing. See above.

Once there was a king with three beautiful daughters.

nope-octopus

Every person who loved The Fault in Our Stars will enjoy this book.
Teenagers will adore this book,
but not me
nope
not at all
nope nope nope nope

The Fantasic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

The Fantasic Flying Books of Mr. Morris LessmoreThe Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore Published by Simon and Schuster on 2012-06-19
Genres: Books & Libraries, Fantasy & Magic, New Experience, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 56
Goodreads

The book that inspired the Academy Award–winning short film, from New York Times bestselling author and beloved visionary William Joyce. Morris Lessmore loved words.He loved stories.He loved books.But every story has its upsets. Everything in Morris Lessmore’s life, including his own story, is scattered to the winds. But the power of story will save the day. Stunningly brought to life by William Joyce, one of the preeminent creators in children’s literature, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a modern masterpiece, showing that in today’s world of traditional books, eBooks, and apps, it’s story that we truly celebrate—and this story, no matter how you tell it, begs to be read again and again.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore isn’t new. I bought it a few years ago when it first came out and was all the rage. I tried to read it with Nico, but he was not interested–not even a little. I put it on the shelf and forgot about it.

Yesterday I read two books to the first graders. The first was The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. They loved it, hanging on the edge of their seat loved it. They were quiet as church mice as I read the last few pages, quietly absorbing every word, every picture. And boy, what pictures.

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I know I’m not sharing anything new to many of you bookworms. Many of you either own the book, have read the book, or watched the award winning short film. I share this because when I got home, I took the book out of my purse and set it on the dining room table. Then I got caught up preparing dinner, feeding Buttercup, getting the mail…the usual stuff you do when you get home from work. After a while, I walked out of the kitchen to make sure the boys were on task with their homework. Nico wasn’t doing his homework–no surprise there–but he was sitting at the table reading The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. Color me more than surprised! He read every word, but then spent an inordinate amount of time analyzing every picture. I could see him cataloging all the details, absorbing everything. The book is far below his reading level, but he read without my strong encouragement.

By the time Mikey was Nico’s age, he was well into chapter books, though he still enjoyed picture books. He still reads them today “to remember my childhood,” he says. (Good grief.) Nico is not Mikey, and that’s more than okay. It was a good reminder to not compare my children and to refrain from pushing one beyond what they are ready to do. Nico can read more advanced books. He’s actually a strong reader. But, for whatever reason, he lacks the interest and the confidence to do more. If I continue to force him to do what I believe is his level, the only thing I will accomplish is to make reading just another task he has to complete. It’s time to rethink the kind of books I encourage Nico to read.

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ear: A West African Tale is the other book I read to the first grade, in case you were curious. It’s a cumulative tale, which the kids always love. They think it’s the true mark of an adult to be able to say “ULTRA SO MANY WORDS MRS. KENDALL” without having to take a breath.

Nest

NestNest by Esther Ehrlich
Published by Random House Children's Books on 2014
Genres: Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, General, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 336
Goodreads

For fans of Jennifer Holm (Penny from Heaven, Turtle in Paradise), a heartfelt and unforgettable middle-grade novel about an irresistible girl and her family, tragic change, and the healing power of love and friendship. In 1972 home is a cozy nest on Cape Cod for eleven-year-old Naomi “Chirp” Orenstein, her older sister, Rachel; her psychiatrist father; and her dancer mother. But then Chirp’s mom develops symptoms of a serious disease, and everything changes.
Chirp finds comfort in watching her beloved wild birds. She also finds a true friend in Joey, the mysterious boy who lives across the street. Together they create their own private world and come up with the perfect plan: Escape. Adventure. Discovery.
Nest is Esther Ehrlich’s stunning debut novel. Her lyrical writing is honest, humorous, and deeply affecting. Chirp and Joey will steal your heart. Long after you finish Nest, the spirit of Chirp and her loving family will stay with you.

Praise for Nest:

"A poignant, insightful story of family crisis and the healing power of friendship."--Kirkus Reviews, Starred

"A stunning debut, with lyrical prose and superbly developed characters. . . . [Readers] will savor Nest and reflect on it long after its conclusion."--School Library Journal, Starred

"Ehrlich’s novel beautifully captures the fragile bond shared by Chirp and Joey and their growing trust for each other in a world filled with disappointments and misunderstandings."--Publishers Weekly, Starred

"Chirp’s first-person voice is believable; her poignant earnestness is truly heartrending. Ehrlich writes beautifully, constructing scenes with grace and layers of telling detail and insight."--The Horn Book

What authors are saying about Nest:

“Nest sings with heart and emotion. Simply gorgeous.”--Jennifer L. Holm, New York Times bestselling author of Turtle in Paradise

"Nest speaks to the heart. I wanted to put my arms around Chirp and never let go."--Holly Goldberg Sloan, author of Counting by 7s and I'll Be There

"I loved the book! It's so tender and touching and real. Chirp is a marvelous character, and Joey's just plain lovable. I worry about him. Congratulations. The book is absolutely splendid and I hope everyone in the world notices."--Karen Cushman, author of the Newbery Medal, The Midwife's Apprentice and the Newbery Honor, Catherine, Called Birdy

“A remarkable work. Esther Ehrlich’s characters stand out so real and true: Chirp’s friendship with Joey is tender and moving, and truly unforgettable. One can see Cape Cod and feel Chirp’s love for the birds wheeling overhead. I wanted this story to go on and on. What a brilliant future this author has. I can’t wait to read her next book.”--Patricia Reilly Giff, two-time Newbery Honor–winning author

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There isn’t much I can add to my review that hasn’t already been said about Esther Ehrlich’s debut, Nest. I predict it will be on the short-list for the Newbery Medal this year. Finally, a middle school book that disregards trendy voice and plot and instead focuses on character development, realistic dialogue, and a nicely paced, coherent plot. Even the gorgeous book design by Stephanie Moss is a refreshing change. I should have made this a book club pick, but it didn’t come out until September. I received the advanced copy from NetGalley, a great site for those who would like to review books. (You don’t get paid, but you do have access to wonderful books-most of the time.)

Because of the subject matter of this book, I’m going to include a multitude of spoilers. Since it’s a middle school book, I assume that’s okay since your child, or one you know, is more likely to read it than you.

I should have taken the shortcut home from my bird-watching spot at the salt marsh, because then I wouldn’t have to walk past Joey Morell, whipping rocks against the telephone pole in front of his house as the sun goes down. I try to sneak around him, pushing so hard against the scrub oaks on our side of the road that the branches scratch my bare legs, but he sees me.

“Hey,” he says, holding a rock and taking a step toward me. He doesn’t have a shirt on; it’s been broiling all week.

“Hey,” I say, real friendly, like I’m not thinking about the fact that I’m a girl and he’s a boy who might pop me with a rock, since he comes from a family that Dad says has significant issues.

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The first concern, and the reason I can’t have it in the library (such a shame!), is the language. There is only one instance of very mild cursing, but it’s enough that I know the Diocese won’t approve of it as a middle school book. (The publisher lists the book as 10 and up.)

Chirp warmed up to Joey and believes he won’t to do her bodily harm. They start throwing rocks against the telephone pole together.

“Not bad,” Joey says. He comes and stands next to me. He smells like the lime Dad cuts up for his gin and tonic before dinner.
Joey’s turn. Bam.
My turn. Bam.
His turn. Bam.
My turn. Bam.
“Crap,” he says.
“Crap,” I say.
“Double crap.”
“Triple crap.” Dad says swearing is inappropriate and not what he expects to hear from either of his daughters. I don’t know if crap is officially a swear, but I do know there are lots of more polite words in the English language.

Joey picks up a whole handful of rocks. He throws them into the air, and they smash down on the road.

“Is your mom’s leg okay?” he asks.
“Not really.”
“That sucks.”
“Yeah, it sucks.” My heart is pounding.
“I love chocolate pudding,” Joey says.

Because Joey has his own secrets–he is obsessive when it comes to germs/health and his father is abusive–he recognizes when a subject is not to be broached. In this case, Chirp wants to avoid any mention of what she didn’t realize was obvious to everyone else. Something is wrong with her mom, but they don’t know what.

We eventually learn with the rest of the family that Chirp’s mom has multiple sclerosis. Chirp’s mom, a dancer, takes the diagnosis poorly and within a couple of weeks admits herself into a facility for extended psychiatric care. There are hints in the book that she has battled depression before. The family focuses on keeping it together while she is away. Chirp and her older sister debate the future.

When Rachel and I are upstairs in the bathroom brushing our teeth, she says, “You know, Mom will die is she has to give up dancing.”
“No she won’t!” I say. “Take it back.”
“It’s just an expression, Don’t you know that?”
“Take it back anyway.”
“No, she says. “Don’t be stupid.”

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There is a scene where they visit her in the hospital that is just painful. Chirp’s mom eventually does come back, though her recovery seems tenuous. Chirp learns how fragile her mom is in the middle of an oral book report.

Dad grabs my hand and pulls me through the hall. He’s walking so fast I have to run to keep up with him. As soon as we’re outside, he kneels right down on the pavement and looks into my face.

“It’s Mom,” he says. “I have terrible news.”
“You took her back to the hospital.”
“Oh God,” Dad says. He rubs his face with his hands.
“I want to finish my dance,” I say. “I was just about to take off from the water.”
“Listen, honey. Mom isn’t in the hospital. She died. Mommy died.”
“No, she didn’t,” I say. “She’s just really sad. There’s a chance she’ll have to go to the hospital again.”
Dad holds my shoulders. He puts his face so close to me that his words make wind in my eyes and he says that Mom died, she really did die, this morning after we left for school, and he knows this because Clara went to the house and Mom wasn’t there, but there was a note on the table that said she was very sorry but she just wasn’t able to go on this way and she loves us very much and she didn’t want to make this harder on us, so she wanted us to know that she went to Hutchins Pond.”

The rest of the story is about Chirp moving forward following her mother’s suicide.

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It’s interesting to me that my book-review plugin automatically categorized this as Young Adult, whereas the publisher has it listed as a middle school book. I remember reading books in middle school where parents died for reasons like cancer, accidents, or old age. I don’t recall a death by suicide scenario, though that may reflect where I went to school. Is this a book you would allow your child to read? And if so, at what age?

As a young adult book, I think Nest is great. I’m disappointed it’s categorized as a middle school book because there will be teens who won’t read something so “baby.” If you follow me on Facebook, you know I’m discouraged with young adult literature. The quality, at least what I have seen, is poor. The most popular books among teens are sensational, dramatic, and, frankly, dull. I’m tired of series. I’m tired of reading the same plots rehashed into something slightly different. I’m tired of the fractured fairytales, the dystopian scenarios, and most of all, the assumption that kids don’t deserve to read something great.

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I understand the publishing industry has to turn a profit, but surely there is an imprint somewhere that focuses on young adult literature. I can’t think of a single young adult book in the last few years that will last generations the way The Giver or A Wrinkle in Time has.

(Please don’t say The Fault in Our Stars. I refuse to believe the popularity of that book will last.)

Perhaps, as I mentioned on Facebook, this isn’t as much about young adult literature as it is about my disappointment in myself. I can’t seem to get through to the junior high kids this year. They don’t have time for reading (they have time for video games and iphones, oddly enough) or they want books that are incredibly inappropriate for them to read. I’m not sure what I have to do to challenge them or move beyond a genre. Even John Green, bane of my existence, doesn’t read John Green. That’s a strong list of books, and many of them are classics. I’m going to print out the list and bring it to school for the kids to review. Fingers crossed!

Bird images are from Esther Ehrlich.

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