The Alan Review
Current Editors
Steven Bickmore sbick@lsu.edu
Jacqueline Bach jbach@lsu.edu
Melanie Hundley melanie.hundley@vanderbilt.edu
Volume 36, Number 2
Winter 2009


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Clip & File YA Book Reviews


The Adventurous Deed of Deadwood Jones
by Helen Hemphil
Front Street, 2008, 228 pp., $16.95

Cowboys/African Americans
ISBN 978-1-59078-637-6

Prometheus Jones has won a fine horse fair and square in a town raffle. It’s too bad no one is happy for him except his cousin, Omer Shine. After all, just because blacks are free in these post-Civil War times doesn’t mean blacks should have things those whites, like the Dills, have.

These are just some of the troubles young Prometheus and Omer face as they traverse away from the Dills and onto a cattle drive to the Dakota area. They battle new biases from whites, Hispanics, and even the Indians. Along the way, Prometheus learns how to fend for himself and how to battle for the truth, whatever that truth may be.

Even though this book is set in the post Civil War era, this has so much to offer young people of all backgrounds. Hemphill takes a tall tale and makes it applicable in today’s society.

Mary Schmutz
Junction City, KS

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway
Razorbill, 2008, 320 pp., $16.99

Fiction/Fame
ISBN: 978-1-59514-191-0

When Audrey breaks up with her boyfriend, Evan, it’s because she feels he isn’t paying much attention to her. She never considers the breakup will come back to bite her because he is a songwriter. Oh, does it ever.

Evan writes a song about the breakup called “Audrey, Wait!” which his band performs at their gig later that night. Everything goes just a little bit crazy after that. The song immediately hits the radio, Evan’s band suddenly has a hit record, and Audrey is in demand. Paparazzi stalk her, reporters call, girls begin dressing like her, and suddenly, people are coming out of the woodwork, trying to be her new friend.

This book will make you laugh out loud, as you read about Audrey and everything that she has to put up with. Full of realistic dialogue and believable characters, Audrey, Wait! is a quick read that will have you wondering what that song really sounds like.

Jennifer Lee
Louisville, KY

The Book of Jude by Kimberly Heuston
Front Street, 2008, 217 pp., $17.95

Mental and Emotional Health
ISBN: 1-932425-26-8

The reader follows Jude through her attempts to cope when she reluctantly moves with her family to Czechoslovakia.

Judith Grace Wheelock is a 15-year-old girl who goes by the name of Jude. Her Mormon family moves to Czechoslovakia unexpectedly when her mother receives a Fulbright scholarship to study there. Jude is upset by this drastic change and cannot seem to understand why her mother, father, twin sister, and younger sister seem to adjust to their new lives so well. Jude’s incapability to cope with the move leads her into a series of uncontrollable episodes that culminate with her stealing and wrecking the family car.

This lands her in a psychiatric hospital where she learns she has Borderline Personality Disorder, which means she does not react well to trying times because she is unable to draw support from her past fond memories. She finds hope in the comfort of a loving family, a secure belief system, and wise old friends.

Rachael Gatewood
Fayetteville, AR

The Cabinet of Wonders, The Kronos Chronicles, Book 1
by Marie Rutkoski
Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 2008, 263 pp., $16.95

Family/Friendship
ISBN-10: 0-374-31026-2

A romping fantasy that follows 12-year-old Petra Kronos on a quest to find and take her father’s stolen eyeballs, this book was a joy to read. Rutkoski has delivered a fantasy heroine to join the ranks of Harry and Percy Jackson.

When Petra’s father returns home from Prague minus his eyeballs, Petra leaves home with only her pet tin spider, Astrophil, and her father’s secret journal. Petra discovers she has magic powers, along with meeting many new friends, all while working in the palace for the evil Prince Rodolfo. Will Petra make it home with her father’s eyes? Or will the prince discover her plan to save the world by destroying his precious clock?

This book is a real page-turner, and Petra is so lovable, you are rooting for her all the way. A fantasy book, set in historical Bohemia, The Cabinet is a very interesting and enjoyable read. Sixth-graders and up will love this story, and parents will love the excellent vocabulary.

Stephanie Stidham
Fayetteville, AR

Daughter of War
by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch
Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2008, 210 pp., $14.95

Historical Fiction/War/Friendship/Family
ISBN: 1554550440

Set in Turkey in 1916, this novel plunges the reader into the little known episode of genocide in Turkey during the first World War. Told from the dueling perspectives of Marta and Kevork (two Armenian teenagers, forced into hiding, yet who are engaged to each other and desperate to find one another) this gripping novel tells the story of suffering and the atrocities of war from two very different perspectives. While Kevork is in Syria, attempting to make his way back to Marta, Marta is in Turkey, pregnant and afraid. The quest both of these characters are on attests to the difficult times of war, the pain of genocide, and the true commitment and loyalty they have for each other.

While this book is not intended for younger readers, mature readers (10th grade and up) will appreciate the reality of this novel. The novel forces readers to think about the war from a new perspective, can be easily connected to ideas about history, and may be used to discuss context in current political events.

Katy Moore
Fayetteville, AR

Dead is the New Black by Marlene Perez
Harcourt, 2008, 190 pp., $7.95

Vampires
ISBN: 978-0-15-206408-2

Daisy Gordano, a Nightshade High School junior, is the only “normal” member of a family full of psychics. Her mother often contributes her unique abilities to help solve crimes with the town sheriff. One day, her mother enlists the help of Daisy’s older sister to investigate a young girl’s death. Meanwhile Samantha, head cheerleader and Queen Bee of Nightshade, returns from summer vacation with a less-than-fashionable makeover – one that includes pale, ghostly skin, lots of black clothing, and a peculiar charm around her neck.

Soon girls start dropping like flies, and vampire rumors begin to surface. Nightshade is a breeding ground for supernatural happenings and strange behavior, so it comes as no surprise. Daisy begins snooping around with a little help from her friend Ryan. As she succeeds in solving the mystery, Daisy learns a few new things about herself and those around her. Aside from discovering a few budding talents, Daisy realizes the importance of getting to know people and giving second chances.

Jessica Kerner
Tallahassee, FL

Ever by Gail Carson Levine
Harper Collins Publishers, 2008, 244 pp., $16.99

Romance/Fantasy
ISBN: 978-0-06-122962-6

Kezi, a mortal teen-aged girl who lives in the city of Hyte, and Olus, the god of the wind, fall in love and are forced to endure extreme challenges in order to attain their hope of marriage.

Kezi is an amazingly talented dancer and rug-weaver sentenced to sacrifice her life to the god Admat in 30 days for the sake of saving her Aunt Fedo. Olus longs to befriend mortals his own age. While herding goats for Kezi’s father Senet, Olus is stricken with desire for Kezi at a marriage celebration for Kezi’s cousins. After admiring Kezi from afar, Olus becomes increasingly enthralled with her beauty and seeks to help her overturn her fate as a human sacrifice. In the extreme efforts to save Kezi’s life and be together forever, they are forced to overcome unbeatable odds and daring challenges.

This book id recommended for ages 12 and up, and it could be used as an individual or small group read to accompany lessons about ancient mythology.

Rachael Gatewood
Fayetteville, AR

Farworld: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage
Shadow Mountain, 2008, 432 pp., $17.95

Magic
ISBN: 159038962X

Farworld is the story of a girl, Kyja, who wishes she had the use of magic in a world filled with spells, charms, and potions; and Marcus, a crippled boy who escapes his cruel surroundings by dreaming about another world. Together they take on the Dark Circle of the Thrathkin S’Bae and Bonesplitter. Prepared to keep Master Therapass’s secret and protect Farworld, while seeking the first of the Elementals—water—to convince them to open a draft between the worlds that will save both the children’s lives, Kyja and Marcus find their own magic and discover the secrets of their past.

Fantasy fans will love the story because, like Harry Potter and his friends, these two likable protagonists are able to handle anything in a fresh and exciting way. Savage brings us characters with depth in a book well-suited to read aloud. Now is the time to start this delightful series.

Lu Ann Staheli
Payson, UT

Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2008, 314 pp., $15.99

Science Fiction/Time Travel
ISBN: 978-1-4169-5417-0

At the beginning of this book, the first in a new series by Haddix, an unscheduled airplane arrives with a mysterious cargo: babies fill every seat on the plane, but no pilot or crew is aboard. After the babies are taken off the plane by gate personnel, the plane vanishes.

Thirteen years later, Jonah, one of the babies who had been adopted, and his friend Chip begin receiving mysterious letters. They aren’t sure what to think when the first one arrives saying, “You are one of the missing.” Is someone at school just playing a mean joke on them? Then there are other strange happenings, and it seems like everything is related to that airplane full of babies, which no one wants to talk about.

Jonah, Chip, and Jonah’s sister, Katherine, set out to solve the mystery. Where had the babies come from? Who was writing the mysterious letters? This promising new series from Haddix will keep even reluctant readers turning the pages.

Jennifer Lee
Louisville, KY

Headlong by Kathe Koja
Francis Foster Books, 2008, 195 pp., $16.95

Friendship/Identity/Family
ISBN: 978-0-374-32912-9

After attending an elite private school her entire life, suburban Lily Noble falls into an unexpected friendship during her sophomore year at Vaughn. Hazel Tobias, an eccentric scholarship student, was raised in the city by her artist brother and his gay partner. Despite repeated concerns of Lily’s parents and school administrators, the two girls form an unexpected and dynamic bond of friendship. Mirrored by their differences, each girl is able to explore untapped possibilities in her own identity. Beautiful, free-spirited Hazel learns what it means to belong. Lily breaks through the confines of performing as a model student to explore her untapped creative potential.

Koja’s realistic prose illuminates the struggles of adolescent identity. By contrasting conservative and liberal family expectations, this author skillfully navigates her characters through a process of self-discovery. The complexities of adolescent relationship and identity are illuminated through Lily and Hazel’s emotional journeys.

Patricia Ackerman
Salina, KS

Hurricane Song: A Novel of New Orleans
by Paul Volponi
Penguin Group, 2008, 136 pp., $15.99

Disaster/Survival/Family
ISBN: 978-0-670-06160-0

News stories reported the devastating experiences of the citizens of New Orleans as they sought refuge in the Superdome during Hurricane Katrina. In Hurricane Song, Paul Volponi gives us a more intimate look at this tragic event through the eyes of Miles, a sophomore focused on his future with the football team who is ambivalent to his father’s career as a jazz musician. When their plan for evacuating New Orleans fails, Miles, his father, and his uncle head toward the Superdome to ride out the storm and then return to their home. What Miles witnessed and experienced there caused him to question his faith in his fellow man and strengthened his commitment to his father and family.

Volponi’s frank descriptions and characterization give the reader a taste of what it was like for those waiting for rescue and relief, as well as those who returned home to find nothing. Despite the devastation, Miles and his family exemplify the spirit of New Orleans: the spirit of hope.

Vicki Sherbert
Wakefield, KS

The Invasion of Sandy Bay by Anita Sanchez
Calkins Creek, Imprint of Boyds Mills Press, 2008, 147 pp., $16.95

Historical Fiction
ISBN: 978-1-59078-560-7

Lemuel Brooks is a 12-year-old-boy who is literally like a fish out of the icy cold waters of New England. He and his mother moved toward the coast of Massachusetts when Lemuel’s father passed away. Try as he may, Lemuel cannot manage to have the local fishermen treat him like the only man of the Brooks’ house.

While out on a fishing expedition with a town leader, Lemuel and Bill Tarr come upon a British frigate closing in on the small town of Sandy Bay. The two fishermen must now guide the frigate into the choppy bay, knowing full well they will be considered traitors to this new beloved country of theirs. The people of Sandy Bay have other ideas, though.

Follow history as a young boy helps lead a town’s people through another revolution during the War of 1812.

Mary Schmutz
Junction City, KS

Jenny Green’s Killer Junior Year
by Amy Belasen and Jacob Osborn
Simon Pulse, 2008, 284 pp., $8.99

Dating/Crime
ISBN: 1-4169-6792-3

This quirky and suspenseful account of a junior year gone horribly wrong is sure to engage readers with its exploration of crime and punishment among teenagers.

After an embarrassing end to her sophomore year, the protagonist Jenny Green hopes to start over at her new boarding school in Montreal. A self-described “Jewish American Princess,” Jenny is used to being treated well, but the boys she dates aren’t worth their weight in Juicy Couture shorts. Their lies, ruses, and general bad behavior provoke Jenny to fashion a plot for revenge. How far will she go to make them pay? And will she ever feel like her old self again?

This book’s frank exploration of sex, violence, and drug culture will interest older teen readers in the complex world of dating and criminal ethics.

Amy Hodges
Fayetteville, AR

Jimmy’s Stars by Mary Ann Rodman
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008, 257 pp., $16.95

World War/Family
ISBN: 0-374-33703-9

A World War II tale of soldiers’ family and friends on the homefront, this coming-of-age story will move readers with its poignancy and unexpected beauty.

Eleven-year-old Ellie McKelvey knows what it’s like to do without. It’s 1943, and Americans are making incredible sacrifices for the war effort. But, Ellie reminds herself, it’s only “for the duration.” Then, Ellie’s brother Jimmy receives his draft notice from the War Office, and suddenly everything changes. Though everyone insists Jimmy won’t come home for a long time, Ellie never stops believing that Jimmy will be back for Christmas – even when her friend’s brothers are reported missing and killed.

Readers from sixth grade and up will be drawn into a world not unlike our own – a world of uncertainty and conflict, and a world where family is still an unbreakable bond.

Evelyn Baldwin Williams
Fayetteville, AR

Kendra by Coe Booth
Scholastic, 2008, 304 pp., $16.99

Coming of Age/Relationships
ISBN-13: 978-0-439-92536-5

Growing up in the South Bronx isn’t easy, and no one knows that better than 14-year-old Kendra Williamson. This is her story, an urban coming-of-age tale that is not afraid to expose the challenges of growing up female amidst the hard-edged realities of inner city life. It is in Booth’s concrete, gritty realism, as seen in schoolgirl rivalries, skanky outfits, and hushed sex, as well as her emotional landscapes blighted by absence, rejection, and betrayal, that readers will find characters with whom they can connect and lives as complicated as their own.

While Kendra can be characterized as a problem novel with an attitude, and one that will no doubt appeal to high school readers, it can also be characterized as a testament to humanity. While Booth’s world is a dark and problematic one, it is not without hope. and she does not leave her readers without a guide.

The explicit language and sexual content of this novel suggest that it is geared toward high school students.

Phyllis Thompson
Johnson City, TN

Lizard Love by Wendy Townsend Female
Boyds Mills Press, 2008, 200 pp., $17.95

Adolescence/Moving /Individuality
ISBN: 1-932425-34-9
978-1-932425-34-5

This is the story of a seventh-grade girl going through puberty and dealing with the changes in her life.

Grace loves the outdoors and all of the animals at her grandparents’ pond in the small country town of Mooresville. Her mother moves her to New York City, where Grace meets Walter, the son of a pet store owner. Walter gives Grace a lizard named Spot who proves to be Grace’s comfort during this turbulent time in her life. Through Grace’s eyes, we see her struggle with growing up, becoming a woman, and dealing with the fact that everything is changing for good.

Female readers fifth grade and up will relate to Grace’s troubles with puberty and will appreciate Grace’s strange attachment to her animals and her own lizard love.

Kelli Cole
Fayetteville, AR

Looks by Madeleine George
Penguin Viking, 2008, 240 pp., $16.99

Body Image/Friendship/High School
ISBN: 978-0-670-06167-9

A glimpse into the unconventional friendship of two lonely 14-year-old girls, Looks sends readers on an emotional roller coaster ride with its protagonists during their first year of high school.

The moment Meghan Ball sees Aimee Zorn in the nurse’s office the first day of school, she senses that this is a girl with whom she can be friends. However, despite her size, Meghan rarely appears on her classmates’ radars, and she finds it more difficult than expected to befriend the guarded Aimee, an aspiring poet who suffers from anorexia. When Aimee forms a friendship with duplicitous teen queen Cara Roy, Meghan redoubles her efforts to reach Aimee, knowing that only she has the secret that can save her.

Looks is a vivid, painful, and honest story that will have junior high students, especially girls, suffering and celebrating along with the characters.

Brittany Beck
Fayetteville, AR

My Summer on Earth by Tom Lombardi
Simon & Schuster, 2008, 246 pp., $8.99

Science Fiction/Romantic Comedy
ISBN-13: 978-1-4169-5563-4
ISBN-10: 1-4169-5563-4

In covering a diverse range of topics and surely reaching interests of a parallel student population, this book delivers. It is a unique take on the alien-visiting-Earth concept. What’s different here is that the alien, Clint, uses unfiltered language as if he were not an alien at all.

On a mission to find and take home a human of his own, Clint experiences many trials and tribulations associated with just such a challenge. Once Clint gets to Earth, he feels something that he has never known—love and attraction for a girl named Zoe. He has only heard about sex and never experienced it because reproducing in his world is all done through technology. He has an overwhelming urge to experience earthling love with her, if he could just figure out how.

A note of caution: Adolescents uncomfortable with profanity should be steered away from this book. Even with the language and suggestive content, Lombardi captures the essence of sweet innocence in a coming-of-age love story suitable for 10th through 12th grades.

Tonya Seaton
Fayetteville, AR

Newes from the Dead
by Mary Hooper
Roaring Book Press, 2008, 246 pp., $15.95

Fiction/England
ISBN-13: 978-1-59643-355-7
ISBN-10: 1-59643-355-8

This novel is based on the true story of Anne Green, a servant who survived her own death after being sentenced to death by hanging for infanticide.

Newes from the Dead takes place in 1650 England during the civil war between King Charles and Parliament. After being hanged for the murder of her new born baby, Anne Green wakes up on a lab table wondering if she is in Heaven, Hell, or somewhere between the two. Through the help of a shy young medical student named Robert, doctors discover that Anne survived her own death. This story is beautifully written and includes a large number of historical events. Hooper concludes the novel with an author’s note that shares more historical content and includes the actual facts behind the true story of Green’s medical miracle.

This is a great book for readers 14 and up who love realistic and eerie storylines.

Lindsay Smith
Fayetteville, AR

The Otherworldlies by Jennifer Anne Kogler
HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2008, 385 pp., $16.99

Adolescent Identity/Fantasy
ISBN: 978-0-06-073960-7
ISBN: 978-0-06-073959-1

Fern McAllister and her twin brother, Sam, are as close as any set of twins can be. Fern, as well as everyone at her private school, wonders why she and Sam don’t look alike nor do they act alike. Her skin blisters in the California sunlight, and she wears sunglasses every morning. She also has this weird ability to understand the family Maltese. When Fern has had enough of the name calling and bullying, she finds some odd strength within her to fend off the bullies.

This strength opens up a huge new world for Fern and her family. Fern was used to hearing how freaky she was. Now, she’s being called another name, an Unusual.

This novel tells the story of adolescent identity. Kogler uses the hot vampire trend but gives the readers new twists and turns not read in current novels. The Otherworldlies left me craving more.

Mary Schmutz
Junction City, KS

Outside Beauty by Cynthia Kadohata
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2008 265 pp., $16.99

Beauty/Family
ISBN-13: 978-0-689-86575-6

Shelby Kimura and her three sisters live with a mother who believes that everyone judges you on your beauty alone. Their mother is what they call a sexpot, collecting money, jewelry, and men along the way.

The only thing Shelby and her sisters share is their mother. Each is the product of their mother’s failed relationships. This commonality is what keeps the girls strong and united. In a sudden turn of events, the girls must learn how to live separately from each other with their fathers when their mother is injured.

Cynthia Kadohata portrays the four young girls as strong and smart people who have learned to adapt to situations that they have no control of. The book is a quick and easy read, leaving you feeling good that outside beauty isn’t as good as inner beauty.

Stephanie McNemar
Junction City, KS

Owning It: Stories About Teens with Disabilities,
edited by Donald R. Gallo
Candlewick Press, 2008, 224 pp., $17.99

Disabilities/Fiction/Short Stories
ISBN-10: 0763632554
ISBN-13: 978-0763632557

A teen creates a school video explaining his Tourette’s syndrome; a girl finally finds friends who accept her immobilizing migraines, and another teen’s friends scare him sober. These short stories by Gail Giles, Julie Anne Peters, and David Lubar, respectively, are in this ten-story anthology featuring teens with disabilities. Various authors, topics and plotlines appear, but all stories portray ordinary teens living with conditions and end positively. Quality is somewhat uneven; although Alex Flinn’s brain-injured former honor student and Robert Lipsyte’s militaristic cancer ward expertly blend tragedy and comedy, a few resemble public-service announcements.

Bonuses include revisiting Olivia in Ron Koertge’s “Good Hands,” originally in “Calle de Muerte,” from Gallo’s 2006 What Are You Afraid Of? Stories about Phobias, and finding Eddie Proffit from Chris Crutcher’s The Sledding Hill in “Under Control.” Author notes include each writer’s connection to the disability portrayed, plus facts and contact information about each condition.

Lisa A. Hazlett
Vermillion, SD

Planet Pregnancy by Linda Oatman High
Front Street, 2008, 197 pp., $16.95

Teen Pregnancy/Free Verse Novel
ISBN-13: 978-1-59078-584-3

Sahara is waiting, rather impatiently, for the results of a test. This is the test of her lifetime. She counts down the remaining time for the results in seconds and memories. In three minutes, she has now joined the ranks of the thousands of unwed teenage mothers. Now that she knows, she had to decide the fate of this egg’s life and her own life.

Sahara shares her thoughts in free verse that sometimes sounds like a rap. She lets the reader in on all her thoughts about the baby’s father, the choices that Sahara must make, and how she gets through the various days in a nine-month cycle. She finds out more about her own life such as actually meeting her own father and what makes a parent.

Planet Pregnancy walks the reader through what a teen mother thinks, feels, and wonders. It’s a quick but thorough must-read.

Mary Schmutz
Junction City, KS

Pretty Like Us by Carol Lynch Williams
Peachtree, 2008, 183 pp., $15.95

Beauty/Friendship
ISBN: 9781561454440

Beauty McElwrath lives in Florida with her strong-minded mother and grandmother. Beauty wants to make friends, but her efforts always resulted in disaster. The fact that her mother is dating her teacher doesn’t help, and Beauty is certain she’s destined to be a social outcast.

Then Alane Shriver moves into town. Before she comes to class, Beauty’s teacher asks everyone to be kind to the new girl who suffers from a rare aging disease known as Progreria. When Beauty first sees Alane, she thinks there’s been a mistake. No one in sixth grade could look that old. But Alane does. She sits right next to Beauty, just what Beauty doesn’t need, until she discovers that beauty is more than skin deep.

This is truly a must-read book. All girls worry about being accepted, and Beauty and Alane’s story will give them lots of laughs, as they see themselves.

Lu Ann Brobst Staheli
Payson, UT

The Revolution of Sabine by Beth Levine Ain
Candlewick Press, 2008, 214 pp., $16.99

Historical Fiction
ISBN- 978-0-7636-3396-7

This novel of love and self-realization takes place in France during the beginning of the American Revolution.

The Revolution of Sabine is a wonderful portrayal of a young girl battling societal rules, especially those enforced by her aristocratic mother. Sabine’s journey to find love and friendship concludes with her finding the most important relationship of all. This is a wonderful story for young girls. Moreover, this novel sends a brilliant message to all women, mothers, and daughters. The novel also does a fine job of giving historical context about the new America and Ben Franklin during the American Revolution. The Revolution of Sabine references and explains Candide by Voltaire and would act as a wonderful bridge to the classic novel.

A great book for young girls 13 and older with an interest in historical fiction or well-told love stories.

Lindsay Smith
Fayetteville, AR

Searching for Yesterday by Valerie Sherrard
Dundurn, 2008, 224 pp., $12.99

Mystery
ISBN-13: 978-1550027884
ISBN-10: 1550027-883

Most people know who their parents are, but Annie Berkley is different. Unlike the other students in her classes, she is withdrawn and has a negative outlook on life. This is because she was abandoned by her mother and has had several foster families, all of which give up on her. Things soon change when Shelby Belgarden thrusts herself into Annie’s life and leads them on an adventure that changes both of their lives, in which the reader can gain insights into the ups and the downs of friendships.

Valerie Sherrard’s Searching for Yesterday is a mystery story filled with twists and turns that ultimately leaves the reader wanting to read more. This is the sixth book in a series, but it can stand alone because it has a great plot.

Sherrard has the ability to bring her readers into the minds and hearts of all of her characters.

Jennifer O’Brien
Tallahassee, FL

Sister Wife by Shelley Hrdlitschka
Orca Book Publishers, 2008, 269 pp., $12.95

Religion/Struggle for Independence
ISBN: 978-1-55143-927-3

A fictional story set on a polygamist compound and told through the eyes of three adolescent girls, Sister Wife is an instantly engaging novel that offers insight into the pressures and struggles young girls in polygamist communities face.

The fictional town of Unity is a highly structured community where young girls are expected to care for siblings, be married to a man as old as their fathers, and live in a household with multiple wives and their children. The last thing they are supposed to want is to leave. Celeste, her sister Nanette, who is strictly and steadfastly committed to following the ways of her faith, and Taviana, a young girl welcomed and then ostracized from Unity, alternate as the narrator.

After Celeste begins to discover a desire for independence through a series of clandestine meetings with a local artist, experiencing romantic feelings for a boy of her own age, is faced with the choice of staying to honor her family and their traditions or leaving to forge her own way in the world.

Tara Griner
Fayetteville, AR

Something to Blog About by Shana Norris
Amulet Books, 2008, 246 pp., $15.95

Teen Drama/ Friendship
ISBN: 978-0-8109-9474-4

A modern-day teenage love story, Libby Fawcett has terrible luck. She burns her hair on a Bunsen burner, and her mother is dating her archenemy’s father.

Things start to look up for Libby when her crush of two years, Seth Jacobs, asks for her help in chemistry class. Libby is hardly passing chemistry herself and is distracted by thoughts of a different type of “chemistry.” Things take a turn for the worst when Libby’s rival, Angel, posts her private blog around school.

When all of the secrets that Libby’s friends have shared with her become common knowledge for the school, Libby must make important decisions that will alter her future, the future of her friends, and the happiness of her mother.

Readers from seventh grade and up ill enjoy reading this book and learn an important lesson about privacy and the Internet.

Grace Pendergrass
Fayetteville, AR

The Sorcerer King by Frewin Jones
Harpers Collins Publishers, 2008, 324 pp., $17.89

Fantasy/Family
ISBN: 978-0-06-087109-3

This book is the perfect read for fantasy lovers. The Sorcerer King is The Lord of the Rings meets A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Classic language, faerie princesses and evil magic combine to make this quest an adventure from beginning to end.

The immortal realm of Faeries is in danger from the evil Sorcerer King of Lyonesse. The court of King Oberon and Queen Titania of A Midsummer Night’s Dream fame is in danger. It is up to their seven daughters to invoke the Power of Seven to vanquish the Sorcerer King. Tania, the seventh daughter, has been living in modern London, and has just returned to her former Faerie Life, only to discover she must lead the mission to rescue Oberon. Each faerie princess owns a gift that aids the king, but one princess turns traitor. Without the Power of Seven, the princesses have no hope against their nemesis. Tania must find a way to reunite her sisters and her parents and save the immortal realm.

Stephanie Stidham
Fayetteville, AR

Tweaked by Katherine Holubitsky
Orca Book Publisher, 2008, 179 pp., $9.95

Murder/Addiction
ISBN-13: 978-1551438511
ISBN-10: 1551438518

The story follows the struggies of 16-year-old Gordie Jessup, as he tries to deal with his family’s breakdown. Gordie’s 17-year-old brother is addicted to methamphetamines, has stolen valuables and money from him and his parents, and has taken to the streets. Their parents are heartbroken and barely speak to one another or even to Gordie. The only friend Gordie has is Jade, whose situation at home is not much better.

Holubitsky’s book contains issues on murder, drug addiction, family relations, and severe illness. It encourages adolescent readers to consider the consequences and damages drug addiction can cause, not only in the individual using the drugs, but also in the struggles, pain, and abuse in a family of a drug addict. Gordie and his friend Jade put on this front while in the company of others, when in reality their lives are full of suffering.

Keeping in mind the content of the story, this book, although easy to read, should be considered for mature readers.

Katie D’Souza
Tallahassee, FL

Zombie Blondes by Brian James
Feiwel and Friends Book (Macmillan), 2008, 232 pp., $16.95

Bullying/Supernatural
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-37298-9
ISBN-10: 0-312-37298-1

Hannah Sanders’s father is running from small town to town, trying to escape the mysterious events of his past as a police officer in the city. In each new town, he takes a new job and tries to start a new life, but each time he fails. When the money is almost gone, Hannah comes home from school to find all of her possessions loaded in the car, and she and her father are off once again to a new town.

As much as Hannah thinks she knows everything there is to know about starting at a new school, Maplecrest is different. The popular girls in this school are all blonde cheerleaders, and there is something sinister about them. Hannah’s new friend in the school, Lukas, warns her about the cheerleaders, but Hannah wants to be popular.

Brian James' newest novel is a contemporary re-telling of the familiar zombie tale.

F. Todd Goodson
Manhattan, KS

Publishers who wish to submit a book for possible review should send a copy of the book to:
Lori Goodson
409 Cherry Circle
Manhattan, KS 66503

To submit a review for possible publication or to become a reviewer, contact Lori Goodson at lagoodson@cox.net


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