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Archive for the ‘Senior Fiction’ Category

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow.

August 6, 2018 Comments off

girlGirl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow. Pub. HarperCollins, 2016.

If I had to give advice to a new writer I would say write what you know, write what you have experienced, write honestly about how you feel and write with a purpose.

Kathleen Glasgow has done all of those things in this compelling young adult novel about 17 year old Charlotte (Charlie) Davis. Charlie thinks that nobody normal will love her.

Charlie has had a harrowing life and has NSSI or non suicidal self injuring. Yes she cuts herself on the arms and legs and amazingly feels that she is in control of her body while she is doing this. She keeps a Tender Kit with her at all times – a box that enables her to cut herself and repair herself afterwards.

The book opens in a psychiatric centre for young girls who do the same as Charlie. She doesn’t speak, she has been living on the street and her body has been cut to ribbons. We learn of her journey to this crisis point in her life in part one of this novel and it doesn’t make for pleasant reading. Abusive mother, bullying at school, drugs, sleeping rough, brutal men, self loathing, worthlessness and extreme self harm. Yet strong friendship from those around her.

Part 2 of the novel takes Charlie out of her Minnesota environment to Tucson Arizona where she finds work at the bottom of the pile and starts to get herself together again. She is vulnerable, she needs love and attention and she needs a massive break in life.

Can she get it or will her past come back to haunt her? read part 3 and find out.

I loved Charlie to pieces. I didn’t want to stop reading about her. I wanted to care for her and for much of the novel I was totally apprehensive. You will be too.

Beautifully written in short sharp episodes that keep you hanging on. It’s tough and has a powerful message ” sometimes you have to let stuff go if you want to move forward”

Boy Under Water by Adam Baron, illus. Benji Davies.

July 30, 2018 Comments off

boy under waterBoy Under Water by Adam Baron, illus. Benji Davies.. Pub. HarperCollins, 2018.

This novel for intermediate and junior high school readers is about growing up and it addresses a massive question – “Do grown-ups tell you the real stuff or do they try to shove it aside like an old tent stuffed behind a sofa”?

Every family has secrets, secrets that affect other family members and friends  behaviour, and kids do not understand. Why don’t they know? and what will happen when they eventually find out?

Cymbeline Igloo is nine years old and he lives with his mother. He has artistic ability and his mother gives art lessons. Family history comes to a shattering crisis when Cymbelline has to go to the swimming pool with his class. His mother panics and Cymbelline wonders why his mother has never taken him to the pool or any body of water where he could learn to swim.

Cymbelline attends after a challenge from a class member and while waiting to commence a swimming lesson he is pushed into the deep end and sinks to the bottom. His mother erupts. The next morning when Cymbelline wakes up his mother is gone.

I am not going to tell you anymore you will have to read the novel and believe me I did not guess the ending, nor will you but it is brilliant.

Superbly told and explained by Adam Baron with an underlining dark and witty humour. He is talking to the kids and opening big secrets. Deftly illustrated by Benji Davies.

You will find out about the name when you read the book.

Don’t stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham.

July 24, 2018 Comments off

dont stopDon’t stop Thinking About Tomorrow by Siobhan Curham. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

I bet that somewhere in the World in this very moment in time, a refugee is wishing that things in their own country were safe and they could return. They will be thinking that people in the country they are in feel threatened by them and resent them being there. They will despair for the future of themselves and their families and friends

This is true of Hafiz a teenager from Syria whose escape to freedom you will read about in this novel. He is lucky to be alive and lucky that he has an aunt and uncle in the UK that can support him. He is a gifted footballer and has aspirations to join the best, but will he be given the opportunity to show his talents and develop the way a UK national would?  Read this novel and find out.

Stevie is a talented guitarist and singer, she is 14 years old and is living with her severely depressed mother who can’t get over the death by violent means of her husband and Stevie’s father. They are living on the breadline and things look hopeless. They have to move on and they need a break. Read it and see if this happens.

Stevie and Hafiz come together at school in a class that has some bullying and less understanding kids, but not all. Their relationship develops, they are good for each other but they are going to be sorely tested.

An excellent novel that examines modern day issues of refugees and mental depression and the effects it has on lives when attitudes of hatred and lack of understanding are to the fore.

This book could have drifted into  a state of sentimentality but it doesn’t. You feel for both Hafiz and Stevie and their chances in life in a hostile world. Their story is as common as life itself and the message is, things have got to change!!

Written in short chapters consecutively by Stevie and Hafiz which makes it very easy to read in short bursts but if you are like me you will keep reading long after your eyes are drooping onto the page.

A story for readers in the intermediate to young adult age group. Adults will get reward from it too. But be warned there will be tears.

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

July 21, 2018 Comments off

front deskFront Desk by Kelly Yang. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

Migrating from one country to another to better your standard of living is as common as life itself. For 10 year old Mia Tang and her mother and father it becomes a hardship that tests their resilience to the core.

They came to America, California to be exact, with $250 and the hope of freedom. What they got was exploitation, racism and bigotry but still they got through. This book takes the American dream to pieces.

They answer a promising advert to be managers of a motel in Anaheim for the king of exploiters, Mr Yao. He promises them the earth, but knows they have no choice and treats them like slaves. As you read you hate Mr Yao to the core.

My Yao has a son of Mia’s age and they go to the same school. A respectful but often confrontational relationship builds up between the two Chinese children.

Mia has the job of looking after the front desk of the motel while her parents slave away at maintaining and running the 30 room business often encountering the rough side of American culture. It is sad, soul destroying and uplifting. It often makes you angry but Mia and her parents stick to it.

“Why is everything in America about money? questions Mia and “None of us knew it was going to be like this” rues her father.

Mia’s optimism is never daunted and she makes friends with a Mexican girl Lupe and with the regular tenants of the motel. I thought if Mia can get through this then so can I and I did not regret it. Nor will you.

This is one of the most readable novels I have read this year and it is for everybody from Intermediate age through to young adult

White Rabbit Red Wolf by Tom Pollock

July 11, 2018 Comments off

white rabbitWhite Rabbit Red Wolf by Tom Pollock. Pub. Walker Books, 2018.

This is a psychological thriller of the very highest order for your gifted young adult readers, about spies and mathematics . In 1991 I read a book about the philosophical concepts of Western Thought by Jostein Gaarder titled Sophies’ World which was absolutely brilliant. This novel ranks along side that novel.

I am not going to try to explain it to you I am just going to tell you what it is all about and you can work it out for yourselves.

Anibel and Peter are seventeen year old twins born 8 minutes apart. Their parents are separated and they don’t know their father. They are White Rabbit and Red Wolf in spy parlance. Their mother is strategically the most important mind in the UK since Turing and a target for spies. The British spy agency 57 fears she is open to the highest bidder and they watch her and her two children.

Ingrid or Ana is sent to infiltrate the twins life and she concentrates on Peter. If you have a deep dark desire that you don’t want anyone to know about and you are in the same room as Ana, she will get it out of you. The novel is in two time sequences, the present and 5 years earlier when Ingrid came into Peter’s life. Peter narrates the story.

Anibel has protected Peter all his life. She is savvy and ruthless and she precipitates much of the action in this story. Peter is obsessed with mathematics. He thinks mathematics can solve everything in life. He knows he is damaged because he has panic attacks that debilitate him, and he hopes to use mathematics to get closer to fixing himself. But he is going to make discoveries about his sister, mother and Ana that will shatter him.

When Peter and Anibel’s mother is attacked and stabbed with a knife on the eve of presenting  a ground breaking scientific paper all hell breaks loose, with Peter, Anibel and Ana on the run from spies and the police. The action is stunning.

The novel is in three parts – Encrypt, Invert and Recoil, the three steps in mathematics that prove everything is a lie. Work it out for yourself, it is superb.

Selma by Jutta Bauer

June 28, 2018 Comments off

SelmaSelma by Jutta Bauer, pub.Gecko press, 2018

What is it like to be truly content? So content in fact that not even a million dollars would make any difference. Well Selma the sheep has the answer.

Selma gets up at sunrise, eats a little grass, plays with her children, exercises, eats more grass, has a chat with Mrs Miller in the evening, then falls fast asleep.

What a perfect day. There is comfort in routine, at least I have always felt so and Selma thinks so too and I love her to bits. But what if she had more time? read it and find out.

Simplicity itself in both text and illustrations, and so deep. This is for everybody.

It is one of the best books you will ever read.

Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas by Ant Sang and Michael Bennett.

June 27, 2018 Comments off

go go ninjasHelen and the Go-Go Ninjas by Ant Sang and Michael Bennett. Pub. Penguin Random House, 2018

There is a filmic quality about this excellent graphic novel for readers as wide as intermediate to young adult. It has a lot of depth to it.

It is set around a city like Auckland and is in two time zones. In the present Helen is a protester of environmental issues while her prig of a boyfriend is a PhD student working on sound vibrations emanating from plants called paramecia. The two have all but reached the end of their relationship.

The boyfriend scientist, named Marion after John Wayne, has found that by stimulating the queen paramecia he can create sound vibrations that eliminate the need for anaesthetics and create endless possibilities for humankind.

Meanwhile Helen has been arrested for hanging a protest banner off the SkyTower and confronts Marion in his laboratory. Suddenly they are invaded by GoGo Ninjas from the year 2355 who mistakenly kidnap Helen because they felt Marion was a girls name and take her back to the future.

In the future Marion’s invention has created social chaos and the Ninjas want him to reverse the process. But  all is not as it seems. Read it and find out what happens. There is even a Stockholm Syndrome romantic relationship

Very clever, very imaginative and full on action. I was amazed how much philosophical , scientific and emotional argument can be communicated in Ant Sang’s brilliant comic illustrations. Combine this with Michael Bennett’s tight script and you have a film classic in the making. There is even a copy of a Planet of the Apes scene involving the SkyTower in the future, just as Charlton Heston finds the Statue of liberty on the Beach.

I read this very quickly in like 30 minutes, then sat down and read it again. You will two. I am off to read it again. If you miss this you will kick yourself. Very cool indeed