Jan 31, 2006

The Order of the Poison Oak, Brent Hartinger

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I'm just gonna have to come out and say it up front: this is one of those situations where the sequel is not as good as the original. I liked Geography Club a whole lot better. Anyways, in this installment, Russel decides he wants a break from being jeered at and everything in his hometown for being gay, so he decides to go with a couple of his friends from Geography Club to work at a summer camp where he is not going to be out. This would have been an interesting thing to explore - what is it like to be out and then not, and how does that feel? I guess Russell didn't really want to be out in his hometown, he was more outed, but getting back to this book -

so Russell is a camp counselor, and the first couple weeks the camp is for burn victims. So there's a lot of heavy handed metaphors about what people look like on the outside vs. their hidden identities and so on. Russell gets played big time, but eventually finds a decent relationship before the summer's over. It's not a bad book overall, there are some fun moments, and since it's so short it's not really a big waste of time or anything. I guess I was just dissapointed that it was just ok.

My Brother's Keeper, Patricia McCormick

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I haven't read Cut, which is another book by this same author, 'cuz its so stinkin' popular it's never available in the library! (yeah, yeah, I could put a hold on it, I just always forget.)

Toby is Jake's younger brother, they both live with their mom who's single and dating. Toby sees himself as the one who has to protect everyone from each other and from themselves, but what he doesn't realize is that sometimes this isn't the best idea. Like his mom is so busy dating and everything, she doesn't really notice that Jake is becoming a total stoner. And Toby decided she can't handle it even if she did know, so he covers for Jake, tells his mom stories, cleans up after his stoner friends and everything. So Jakes problem gets worse and worse, but nobody's around to try to put an end to it.

It's a really interesting story, because the author allows the characters to be really complex and have many levels of dealing with things, but it isn't a long story, so she does a good job of getting that all in there really efficiently. Not only do the characters have levels of dealing with things, but they also have pretty human and realistic motivations. Like Toby thinks he's protecting his mom and keeping his family together, but by the end we find out he's also doing it for himself, so he can feel in control of the situation.

So Hard To Say, Alex Sanchez

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Same author as the Rainboy Boys, Rainbow High, Rainbow Road series. This one is about an entirely different set of characters, and is, in general, more for like 8th graders rather than high schoolers. So the overall tone and style and subject matter is a bit younger. But that's all ok, because the main story/subject line is pretty relevant to anyone interested in GBLTQ issues, whatever their age. There's sort of two big questions here: 1. how do you know? and 2. what to do if your straight friend is crushing on you big time?

I found how the author dealt with question 1. really interesting, it's not something I've seen too much of in books. It seems most of the characters who come out as gay or whatever just seem to know or have always known, but there are definitely people who only discover their own orientation when they get to be a teenager. So that is something unique to this book v. a lot of the other books generally on the same topic line.

It's a good book, short, sweet, quick. Deals with something that can be heavy but puts it all in a better light and seyz, it doesn't have to be so heavy.

Jan 25, 2006

Book Awards

There's a whole new rash of young adult and high school book awards announced just this week. We're happy to report we have a lot of these books already, and will be ordering many of the ones we don't already have. If you see something interesting on one of these lists and can't find it in the library's catalog, please let us know [whslibrary AT winnacunnet DOT k12 DOT nh DOT us] and we'll try to get it.

Jan 24, 2006

The Garden, by Elsie V. Aidinoff

thegarden Find this book in the Hawley Library.

I read this book awhile ago, and combined with a bit of forgetfulness is the fact that I really need to return this very overdue book - but I wanted to mention it here and recommend it, I think especially for girls/women.

This is the story of Eve, from THE garden , told from her and the serpent's perspective. In this book, God is very typical old-testament God, very jealous and angry and, well, petty. The serpent takes on a whole new depth of character outside the Bible. He is the source of wisdom - which is neither good nor bad but does *include* bad, because wisdom includes all knowledge. In this version of the story, God is raising Adam and teaching him about the world, and The Serpent is raising Eve. Eve is very curious, and The Serpent answers all her questions. She wants to know what the world is like outside of the garden, so they go on trips.

There are a lot of surprises and intense thinking/relationship scenes. This book in no way is meant to be taken literally, or interpreted as part of the Bible or anything, it's just a story, with those characters and in that time, that gives a different perspective, one that is much more in depth.

Jan 11, 2006

Rainbow Road, Alex Sanchez

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This is the third and final book in Sanchez's Rainbow trilogy (Rainbow Boys and Rainbow High were the first two). Like the first two, it is light and fun. The characters are real enough and experience things genuinely, and although these aren't particularly deep books and the characters don't reveal amazingly deep feelings or anything like that, they are enjoyable without being too fluffy.

In this one, Jason, Kyle, and Nelson (same characters), set off on a road trip across country during the summer after they graduate high school. They meet a lot of crazy people, some normal people, get into some high jinks, fall in love, fall out of love, and fall in love again. Nelson *finally* meets a great guy. Kyle *finally* gets over some of his ocd-ness and learns to relax. And Jason . . .well, Jason was never my favorite anyway. (Nelson is my favorite, but I've got a weak spot for Kyle 'cuz I'm kinda straight laced and goody goody like him. Or at least I was before I learned to not be so uptight about these things).

At any rate, now that this trilogy is done I'm really excited to read other things by this same author. Like So Hard to Say (which I requested the library buy). Anybody read that one yet?