Tag: Realistic Fiction

Book Review: This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

Posted November 28, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 3 Comments

Title: This Lullaby

Author: Sarah Dessen

Publisher: Puffin

Publication Date: May 2002

Genre: Young Adult Realistic Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Synopsis can be found here.



Review: There are some books that are so hyped up, they can’t live up to expectations. There are some out there that are the underdogs, sneaking up from behind and all of a sudden it’s a new favorite. And then there’s something like This Lullaby.

This is my first Sarah Dessen novel. I’ve read all the raving reviews about the author, especially about this novel, so I went into it hesitantly. Would it be one of those that couldn’t live up to the hype? I am happy to report that it was everything I had hoped it would be and more.
Remy is a complicated teenage girl who has a problem with commitment, relationships and all else in between.  She could have easily been a whole lotta teenage angst, but Dessen steers clear of making Remy too sad. Yes, she’s cynical, but with a mother on her fourth marriage, it’s no wonder why. Remy’s voice is clear and unique, unlike any other narrator I’ve read. I really appreciated Remy’s views on the world and on love. She is the best mix of vulnerable and strong.
Dexter is quirky, easy going and refreshingly different. Now don’t think that way. Dexter isn’t your run of the mill swoon worthy guy, although he does possess some wonderful swoon-like traits. He’s more developed than that and the dialogue between him and Remy is spot on. Fun, clever and believable, their relationship grows, strengthens, falters and sustains in a natural way.  I had an emotional response to their trials and triumphs. These characters were so real to me, leaping off the page like my friends. I wish the novel didn’t have to end.
I loved the use of music in this story. It wasn’t forced and was an excellent way for the characters to be explored. It also aided in developing their relationships with each other. All of the supporting cast is well rounded and whole. I especially enjoyed reading about their Mom and their new stepdad and how that changed the family dynamic.
Well done, Sarah Dessen. You’ve made me a big fan.


Rating 8 Cookie Worthy

Posted November 28, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 3 Comments


Book Review: Sometimes It Happens by Lauren Barnholdt

Posted November 21, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Title: Sometimes It Happens

Author: Lauren Barnholdt

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing

Publication Date: July 2011

Genre:
Young Adult Realistic Fiction

Series or Stand Alone:
Stand Alone

Synopsis can be found here.

Review:

Hannah feels abandoned by her selfish yet loyal best friend Ava when Ava moves to Maine for the summer. Leaving Hannah alone, after just being cheated on and dumped by her boyfriend, Hannah spends a couple of days moping until she gets a job at the local diner, with Ava’s boyfriend Noah. As the summer wears on, Hannah ventures out of her comfort zone to discover music and friendship, but also discovers something she wasn’t looking for. Love in the form of her best friend’s boyfriend.
Sometimes It Happens is my first Lauren Barnholdt story and it won’t be my last. She navigates the gray area so well, you can’t help feel pulled into Ava, Hannah and Noah’s struggles with each other. The book flips back and forth between the first day of school during senior year and during the summer as Ava and Hannah’s friendship is strained and Hannah and Noah’s friendship grows. Easily, this delicate topic of best friends cheating could have been preachy, whiny and overly dramatic. But Barnholdt skillfully plays the scenes so that every character is equally at fault.
I really enjoyed the flipping of time through the novel. After each chapter, I wanted to go back to find out what happened, but was also really happy I had moved back into the other time with the last cliffhanger fresh in my mind. The tension on the first day of school, if she tells Hannah, whether Hannah already knows, what Noah is thinking, is very real. I felt like I was with Hannah that first day of senior year, and the stress and unease she experienced balanced well with the softer moments of the summer.

Barnhold does such a wonderful job making Hannah, Ava and Noah all layered characters. I can’t say I liked Ava, but her fierce loyalty to Hannah, and her many flaws in their relationship was very real for me. I liked her, not enough to cheer for her, but enough to be sad for her. I rooted for Hannah and Noah, but at the same time was disappointed in them and their choices. I thought the ending was very well written and open. The only way to get through these things, which sometimes happen, is to be true to yourself and to take responsibility. Hannah, Ava and Noah all grew naturally in the book and refreshingly, didn’t shy away from their actions, even if they were wrong. They each had their own part to play in the mess they made and they confronted their personal issues head on.

Rating 8 Cookie Worthy

Posted November 21, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments


Book Review: Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Posted November 14, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 1 Comment

Title: Saving June

Author: Hannah Harrington

Publisher: Harlequinn

Publication Date: November 29, 2011

Genre: Young Adult Realistic Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone


Synopsis can be found here.
Netgalley review.



Review: 
Hannah  Harrington’s debut novel is worthy of the buzz it’s receiving. Harper, the younger sister of the perfect June, is left behind when June does the unthinkable: suicide. Reeling from the emotional void and family agony, Harper does the unthinkable. Stealing June’s ashes, she makes a beeline for the coast, her best friend in tow, and a mysterious boy who knew June, to give her sister her much needed freedom, in California.

The novel is well written- dramatic and emotionally gripping as we go on this survivor’s adventure with Harper. The family’s grief is real, and Harper’s decision to bail at this time seems like a no brainer. She has been left to cope alone with an absentee father and a broken down mother. Harper suffers from the usual suspects; loss, rage, numbness, confusion, ache. She seems whole enough, but for some reason, I couldn’t connect with Harper.  Her main goal is to get to the coast, and yet some of the detours the group took along the way seemed like filler.
Harper’s best friend Laney is everything a best friend should be- loyal, true and a little outrageous. But that doesn’t make her incredibly interesting.  On the other hand is Jake, our mystery boy and he is fully formed. From his musical tastes to his hidden agenda, Jake is the character to read for. He’s complicated in so many ways, and isn’t the push over sweet guy or bad boy. He’s a mixture of both, interesting and tangible.
Characters aside, the novel goes along well. What really made this novel good for me were the chances we see Harper loosing her control. Her realizations, reality and her coping mechanisms said so much about her character, her state of mind, it drew me back to the story when I was losing interest.
By the end, the adventure was well worth it. It took me a lot longer to read this novel than others. I can’t say it was because of the subject matter (it’s not a book I looked forward to reading), because of the mood I was in or what. But once I was done, I was happy, tired and felt like I had just gone through an emotionally trying book. I wasn’t happy because it was over, but because Harrington took a sad story, and made it better.

Rating: 7, Pretty Cool, Would Recommend

Posted November 14, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 1 Comment


Book Review: Breathe My Name by R.A. Nelson

Posted September 15, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Title: Breathe My Name

Author: R.A. Nelson

Publisher: Razorbill

Publication Date: November 2007

Genre: Young Adult Realistic Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Synopsis can be found here.


Review:Realistic fiction becomes physiological thriller in this book. Frances Robinson is a typical high school teenager, but she’s hiding a secret only her family and best friend knows. Years before, she barely escaped her birth mother’s hands. Now her birth mother is out, asking Frances to see her, and to finish what they started.

I knew going into it that this book was going to be intense. Nelson’s other book I read, and reviewed, was equally jarring, scary and emotionally explosive. Breathe My Name doesn’t let up for one second.  The flashbacks are the most disturbing for me. Traveling back and forth between France’s current life and her former one leaves the reader feeling off balanced. You already know what’s going to happen, and every flashback leads you closer and closer, achingly close until the very end.
Meanwhile, the present Frances is doing everything she can to come to terms with what this means to her.  With her new boyfriend Nix in tow, they begin a journey that I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to end.
Frances is a real, warm character. She has been through a lot, but she doesn’t come across as whiny, annoying or overly dramatic. She’s level headed, brave and seems far older than her years.  Nix is sweet, funny and a great supporting character to Frances. It’s easy to see the chemistry between these two characters. Nix makes Frances laugh and she feels safe around him. The scariest character of all is France’s birth mother. Tense and unhinged, she is her own force; a hurricane you can’t help being pulled towards and almost swept up in. Nelson does an amazing job in the flashbacks, describing her pull, her fears, and her insanity.
Without revealing too much, the plot twist at the end left me a little empty. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a well-written and thought-out ride to get there.  

Rating 7 Pretty Cool, Would Recommend

Posted September 15, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments


Book Review: Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

Posted September 8, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Title: Five Flavors of Dumb

Author:
Antony John

Publisher: Dial

Publication Date: November 2010

Genre: Young Adult Realistic Fiction

Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Synopsis can be found here.


Review: Through a series of brave choices, Piper offers to manage Dumb, her school’s band that has just won an indie band rock award. She makes the band a deal that she can get them a paying gig in a month. Any other teenager, and this would have been a less interesting story, but Piper is hearing impaired, so an entirely new set of challenges await her. And she’s ready to overcome all of them.

This book was recommended to me by various readers, so I’m not going to lie, I had some high hopes. And it lived up to all of them. Piper is a strong but struggling teenager. Her very young sister Grace is also hearing impaired, but Piper and Grace are treated very differently. The emotional rollercoaster Piper endures every night she goes home is heartbreaking. I felt all of Piper’s frustrations and sense of abandonment.  Her complicated relationship with her parents was sharp and unbearable at times. I felt a real sense of injustice on Piper’s behalf.
Finn, her brother, is a stable and well-rounded character who Piper grows closer to as the novel progresses. It’s easy to see why these two turn to lean on each other and it gave a nice sense of balance to the family life.
Yay to Antony John for creating Ed Chen, a shy chess playing geek as the love interest, who enjoys rocking out on his drums.  Ed is fully formed and well crafted. He is part teenage boy, part loyal friend and Piper’s sturdy rock. His refreshing friendship with Piper is light hearted and fun.
Tash, Will and Josh round out the rest of Dumb nicely. Each has distinct personalities, or lack thereof in Will’s case. This allows Piper to really shine through the novel, the reader experiencing her journey, her mistakes and her ups and downs as if they were their own. The obstacles Piper has to overcome in this novel are unique to her situation, and while she is a sympathetic character, she’s equally flawed, which makes her even more interesting.
The use of sign language through the novel and Piper’s struggles with that and her hearing aids are well written. John does a fantastic job using Piper’s communication skills as another layer.
A wonderfully rich and fun story. Piper is a girl you want to root for. And Dumb is well, pretty awesome.

Rating 8, Cookie Worthy

Posted September 8, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 0 Comments


Book Review: Sean Griswold’s Head

Posted August 16, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 3 Comments

Title: Sean Griswold’s Head
Author: Lindsey Leavitt
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Publication Date: March 2011
Genre: Young Adult Realistic Fiction
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Synopsis can be found here.
Review:
Payton is my type of girl. She loves to be organized, and even color-codes her folders. She’s a smart student who likes to place things in their proper places. Therefore, it’s especially traumatic for her when she learns a secret that sends her reeling into her guidance counselor’s office. Her guidance counselor recommends she find a focus item to concentrate on. And what do you know? It’s Sean Griswold’s head.
I didn’t know what to expect from this book. The synopsis sounded cute and I figured it would be some light-hearted treat I could read quickly and move on. But there’s a lot more to it than that. My friend loaned me her copy, with the words, “No, it’s awesome. You’ll love it.” And I did.
Leavitt is a very talented writer. Her characters are well rounded, full, rich and funny. Even when they’re suffering, they don’t lose their wholeness or depth. The novel touches upon more than just Payton and Sean. It delves into relationships between family members, especially parents and children.
Payton’s character is so real, she felt like she was sitting next to me. Her emotions, thoughts and actions made her into a mature teenager, just growing out of adolescence and trying to figure it all out.
And Sean Griswold is more than just a head. Payton gets to know her focus item, the sweet and kind Sean Griswold. He has such a wonderful personality, reminding me of some of my best guy friends from home.
As their relationship develops, Payton grows in leaps from the character she started out at the beginning to the young adult she eventually becomes.
A wonderful and hilarious story that should not be missed!
Rating: 10 One of the Best

Posted August 16, 2011 by Kimberly in Book Reviews / 3 Comments