Nov 26, 2005

Donorboy, Brendan Halpin

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We meet Rosalind just after she has lost her moms in a freak accident and has moved in with her sperm-donor father. She didn’t know her father before this, never hung out, he wasn’t involved in her upbringing. This isn’t the story of what its like to have grown up with lesbian parents and no dad, this is the story of what its like to lose two parents but then suddenly have a new one thrust into your life.

The story is told through a lot of emails from Sean, the donor dad, and a lot of journal writing from Rosalind, girl with no moms. Some text messaging, IMs, other written or recorded forms of communication are thrown in, but not so much as to be too annoying (and it can be really annoying to read pages and pages of IMing back and forth). Instead, the voices of the main characters really come through and I really became quite attached to these well-developed whole and round characters. By which I mean that they seem like real people. They have problems, they aren’t perfect, but they aren’t awful either and they grow and learn and are generally interesting.

Basically, Rosalind has to deal with both losing her moms and all the grief that that entails and she screws up in school and goes to some parties and is generally a teenager (and not even a crazy one at that). And Sean needs to learn to be a dad to a 15-year-old after having no practice whatsoever.

It’s a really touching story without being schmaltzy, and realistic and fairly original. Overall, one of the better books I’ve read recently.

Nov 15, 2005

Geography Club, Brent Hartinger

Russell thinks he's the only gay kid in his school. Even his best friends don't know about him being gay, and as a result, he feels incredibly lonely. When he gets on an internet chatroom for gay teens, he finds that there is another gay kid at his school, and then he comes out to his other best friend, who turns out to be a lesbian!

Ok, so now there are 5 kids in the school and they know each other is gay. The school is really repressive. Like the opposite of Boy Meets Boy. They want to hang out together, but still be secret, so they form a fake club, geography club, hoping that no one will figure out what the real story is.

That works out ok, but meanwhile Russell got another friend that is manipulating him, and everyone is on edge because, as I said above, the school environment is really oppressive - kids are just really really mean to each other.

I won't give away all what happens, but will just add that it's a really good book, and really short. I like good, quick books.

Nov 8, 2005

Autobiography of My Dead Brother, Walter Dean Myers

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This is the latest from Walter Dean Myers, who I think is a brilliant writer. This one incorporates graphic novel type illustrations, making it a bit of a hybrid – something else I love. So why aren’t I head over heels in love with this book?

Mostly because the subject of the book is same ‘ol same ‘ol for Walter Dean Myers – inner city kids, suddenly and they aren’t quite sure how, get mixed up in gang stuff and drug dealing and then somebody or somebodies die by gun violence. It’s an important story, but Myers has done it, and done it well. The book is great, I will recommend it, but I was a bit disappointed just because the theme is somewhat overdone, at least by this author.

Nov 5, 2005

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy, Gary Schmidt

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From the description of this book, I didn’t really think I was going to like it. I read it because it got some literary awards. So once again, I should say that I learned my lesson not to judge a book by its (back) cover. Though of course, I haven’t really learned that lesson yet.

So the story is set back in the day in a rural Maine community. Turner, son of a preacher man, is the main character. He’s just moved from Boston, where people are more liberal and there are more people in general so he doesn’t feel so much like the entire town is watching him to make sure he never slips up. (Of course he does, and there are some side plots about that.) Lizzie is his friend, a really good friend (but not a special friend, at least it doesn’t seem like it goes that far.) but she is black, a member of a community founded by ex-slaves. Some of the townspeople hate having the black people there, and convince Turner’s dad to help oust them.

Things happen – houses burn, people die – you know. What I most recommend this book on is its solid writing, believable and deep characters, and fluid plot-line. Really good.