Category Archives: High School
Completed in the last month: I finished reading City of Heavenly Fire on audio completing the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. Also on audio I finished The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling). In hard copy I’ve read When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, Chains and Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson which leaves me anxiously awaiting the final book in the series, Ashes. I also completed E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars and Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith. I finally got around to reading Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell and am a little perturbed at myself for waiting so long.
PUBLISHER: Philomel; Penguin Audiobooks
LENGTH: 352 pages; 9 hrs, 51 min
SOURCE: purchased (audio)
SUMMARY: Click here to read from author Ruta Sepetys’s website.
REVIEW: This story, on the surface, seems quite different from Sepetys’s acclaimed Between Shades of Gray. Looking more closely, there are thematic similarities that resonate with readers regardless of setting or background of the characters. Josie Moraine, just like Lina, must rely on herself to “be the change she wants to see in the world”. Even though Josie is already out of school, the story is indeed a coming-of-age tale that also touches on social class, betrayal, homosexuality, and guilt.
With a detailed and unique cast of characters, Sepetys drops readers into the seedier side of New Orleans in the early 1950s. Josie’s mother is a prostitute who is self-centered and neglectful of Josie. Josie has a “created family” of supporters through the brothel and the surrounding community. With one decision to omit part of the truth surrounding one of her bookstore customer’s recent visits, Josie finds herself tangled in a web of deception that leads to her mother abandoning her to leave with an abusive boyfriend, Josie considering the life of a kept women which she swore she would never live because of her own mother, and having to choose between her dream of a college education or saving her mother’s life while dooming her own.
The intricacies of character and social class in this book are commendable. Cokie, Willie, and Jesse are unique and provide the perfect contrast to Charlotte and Charlotte’s world. The story itself seemed a bit burdensome in its development. Once Josie keeps the information about the watch to herself, it seemed to take quite a while to discover exactly how that decision would impact her plans to join Charlotte at college. The climax is predictable and Willie’s ultimate rescue of Josie seemed unavoidable. However, the decisions and experiences that Josie must work through ring true and young women on the cusp of independence will identify with Josie’s willingness to take risks as well as her reservations about venturing into new territory.
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
LENGTH: 352 pages
SUMMARY:In asociety where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would “unwind” them Connor’s parents want to be rid of him because he’s a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev’s unwinding has been planned since his birth, as part of his family’s strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthday, they can’t be harmed — but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away.
REVIEW: I originally heard great things about Shusterman’s Everlost series and wanted to read those books. (I still do.) Then there was a sale on audible.com for one of his other series: the Unwind Dystology. In the beginning the narrator, Luke Daniels, bothered me. I’m fairly picky about narrators when listening to audiobooks so I almost stopped listening. However, Shusterman’s story-line was so engrossing that I stopped caring about the narration and just wanted to get to the next plot event. I’m sure if I had been reading it in paper, I would have stayed up all night to finish it. Where to begin?
The premise of the story is scarily believable: abortion outlawed, unwanted and “troubled” children harvested for parts, religious fanatics thinking that offering their children as sacrifices will win favor with their god. There are so many parallels to things that are really happening in our society that if one doesn’t pause while reading it, I would worry more about the reader than the author. As the characters discover what their individual and social boundaries are that they refuse to cross, the reader begins to question his own boundaries and how far he might go or refuse to go in similar situations. Connor, Risa, and Lev couldn’t come from more different backgrounds, yet they are all fighting for their lives. Survival is the great equalizer.
BRIDGE: If used in the classroom, this book could be used to discuss ethics on multiple levels: personal, theological, societal…so many options. This would also be a good way to delve into those really difficult questions about when life begins and when is one an “adult”? Does the day between 17 years old and 18 years old really make that much difference? Even with all the philosophical questions that emerge from the story, the ultimate question that the characters and readers will ask themselves is: Regardless of how much time we are given, how do we truly live?