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Posts Tagged ‘teenage relationships’

Cold as Ice. Always in Control by Jenni Francis

March 9, 2018 Comments off

cold as iceCold as Ice. Always in Control by Jenni Francis. Pub. Jenni Francis, 2016.

This is the fourth novel about Keri who is now in High school and dealing with a host of problems resulting from a new relationship between her mother and a man called Rob.

Rob has a daughter Keri’s age and a younger son who are having difficulties with the split of their parents and with the new relationship. Sara is having a lot of problems with anorexia and is taking it out on Keri using her brother Thomas as a foil.

The parents try as hard as they can to blend their two families but the troubles run deep and it ain’t going to be easy. Things come to a head on a skiing trip and it is a gripping ending.

Jenni Francis is a no nonsense writer. The story is told in a clipped but detailed fashion. I could have learned to ski from the detail prescribed in this novel. The dialogue is strong and the perceptions on marriage breakups and new relationships show some experience.

Essentially aimed at pre-teen and teenage girls but by no means exclusively. Boys could learn a lot from this. Short chapters and only 120 odd pages this is a fascinating read about a girl who tackles life full on and is very likeable.

Check out the other Keri books on this blog and at http://www.jennifrancis.com

Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein.

February 23, 2018 Comments off

small spaces (2)Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein. Pub. Walker Books, April 2018.

This first novel is a psychological thriller for high school students and young adults that will have you spellbound from start to finish. The finish will have you panting for breath and screaming at the characters to get a bloody grip. It is frightening.

The main character is Tash who is sixteen going on seventeen. She narrates the story in two time spells, the present and when she was eight. For Tash there is no such thing as a fresh start because her past keeps haunting her in a continuous loop.

When Tash was eight she started seeing an invisible friend called Sparrow. Invisible to everybody else but visible to her and totally frightening. “I am here to play with you. Who invited you? You did”. Sparrows appearance coincided with two events. The birth of Tash’s brother Tim and the disappearance and later discovery of 8 year old Mallory who was her friend and who she says was taken by Sparrow.

Everybody is upset especially Tash’s parents and the appearance of Sparrow is put down to “Attention seeking”. Mallory stops speaking and her family move out of the district.

In the present Mallory and her parents move back into the district and for Tash all the psychological damage comes back. She starts a relationship with Mallory’s brother Morgan and subsequent events blow the whole disappearance of Mallory and the appearance of Sparrow into the open.

The writing is rich in metaphor for example Morgan is described as having boy band hair and you can see it as you read. Dialogue between the teenage characters is sharp and believable.

If you miss this one you will kick yourself.

 

Love Hate & other filters by Samira Ahmed

January 26, 2018 Comments off

love & hateLove Hate & other filters by Samira Ahmed. Pub. Hot Key books, 2018.

Some powerful novels for young adults come out of Trump’s America these days, most related to the social upheaval that his been inflicted on America because of racial, religious, political and terror related events. This is one of them and it is very good.

Maya is 18 years old, she is a Muslim Indian whose parents are successful dentists in small town America. They are unashamedly staunch traditionalists who came to America with some taboos packed tightly into the corners of their immigrant baggage. They want the best for their daughter and to control her life in the traditional Indian way.

Maya is an American girl and with American aspirations who wants to make movies. She has a video camera with her all the time and films family events. She is very quick witted and literate in a Jane Austen sort of way and she is attracted to the star football player of her high school, Phil, and he is attracted to her. Their rom com relationship is one of the highlights of the novel as is Maya’s relationship with her traditionalist mother.

When Maya tells her mother she does not want an arranged relationship with Kareem, who is delightful by the way and understanding, and wants to go to film school in New York, the family is in turmoil. The mother fears she will wear mini skirts and eat pork.

It gets worse. Between chapters there is another plot going on. A suicide bomber is plotting , preparing and ultimately commits the  terrorist act killing hundreds including children. People take it out on Maya and her family, they are assumed guilty by association as everybody considers the bomber was Muslim.

Read this novel it is fascinating. I was hooked from the first chapter which describes a traditional Indian wedding with it’s Bollywood overtones. The wit and depth of feeling is compelling. One of the best.

 

How To Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather.

January 18, 2018 Comments off

hang witchHow To Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather. Pub. Walker books, 2018.

The Salem witch trials of 1691 make some of the most sordid reading in American history. Cotton Mather was a leading instigator in these trials, this novel is written by a descendant Adriana Mather and the main character in the novel is teenage girl Samantha Mather. It’s a family affair.

Samantha and her step mother Vivian sell their New York apartment to pay the medical expenses of Samantha’s father who has mysteriously gone into a coma. They move to Salem and stay in a house once owned by Samantha’s grandma that she didn’t know about.

Samantha is a difficult girl she has an affinity for sarcasm and doesn’t have any friends. Why is this? Her first day in the old house results in mysterious happenings, secret rooms, things that go bump in the night.

Her first day at Salem high school is no better, she makes enemies of a group of black clad girls called the Descendants who are related to the witches of 1691. They threaten her and say she is cursed. Then Samantha meets handsome boy Elijah who is a ghost and only she can see and hear him. He tells her to leave or else, but Samantha is built of sterner stuff and is not intimidated by the threats. She should be. Elijah tells her that when one of each of the main families involved in the original trials is in Salem a curse is invoked and the death rate mounts. Can the curse be broken?

A fascinating read that sheds light on the Salem trials and likens them to modern day bullying. Not a lot of laughs in this novel that has the power to scare the s**t out of you but fortunately there is a touch of romance to lighten the mood.

Superbly written and structured in 47 short sharp chapters so that you can read it in short bursts like I did. Senior secondary but I suspect younger readers will clamber to read it as well. It will do them no harm.

Turtles all the Way Down by John Green.

October 27, 2017 Comments off

turtlesTurtles all the Way Down by John Green. Pub. Penguin Random House, Imprint Puffin, 2017

This latest novel by John Green will get inside your brain and shake it around. No-one writes about the teenage psyche and condition better than John Green. In parts it gets deeper and further out than you want it to,until life crashes in and puts you on an even keel again.

Holmsey is 17 years old and thinks she is a fiction. She cannot control the body she has and she has constant intrusive thoughts that she doesn’t want and cause her to behave in a destructive way towards her self. She is realistic about her condition and doesn’t know why people tolerate her.

Fortunately she has a caring mother and a best friend Daisy with whom she shares some remarkable conversations. The banter between the two of them is a highlight of the novel. Adolescent sanity is so 20th century.

All this sounds like a heavy plot, and it is, but it is lightened quite considerably by the disappearance of billionaire Russell Pickett the father of a once friend of Holmesy whose name is Davis. Daisy convinces Holmesy to look up her old friend when $100,000 is offered  for information that leads to the whereabouts of Russell Pickett.

This starts off a relationship between Holmesy and Davis that will lead to the unraveling of her problems.

Two things puzzled me about this book. Firstly the meaning of the title, but you will learn this towards the end of the novel and Secondly Holmesy. I read the first 40 or so pages not knowing if it was a male or female character. See if it happens to you. When I found out her name was Aza, I thought amazing. See if you can understand why.

Very deep, often disconcerting, superbly written and essential to read. I loved it from start to finish. Teenagers and young adults will love it. I will leave you with a thought from the book ‘When the weather is fine and ordinary you don’t notice it but when it is cold and you can see your breath, you can’t ignore it”. Check it out.

Expelled by James Patterson & Emily Raymond.

October 23, 2017 Comments off

expelledExpelled by James Patterson & Emily Raymond. Pub. Penguin Random House, Imprint Young Arrow, 2017

This novel for teens had me laughing from start to finish. It is clever, it is witty and the dialogue between characters is buzzing. If you are a reluctant reader get your eyeballs into this novel, I guarantee you won’t put it down.

The brief plot is – someone has put a revealing photograph using the IP address of 16 year old Theo’s Twitter account. For this he is expelled from school along with those that featured in the photograph. He is innocent.He is aggrieved and wants justice and has to convince the others that they must pursue the truth. They decide to do it by making a film about the incident and the outcome is superb. But be warned it brings out truths that you may not be ready for.

Theo is unhappy and doesn’t want to be known as the kid with the dead father who was expelled. He has a crush on Sasha in a way that is a cross between like and lust.

Sasha is an intelligent and aloof beauty. When she says anything the boys sit up and notice. When the movie is suggested by Theo the boys take it seriously because of Sasha who herself has been expelled for alleged theft. There is also some thought that she is the girl with the impressive boobs in the photo on Theo’s Twitter page.

Jude is Theo’s best friend and is assumed to be in the photograph too. He describes himself as a 16 year old bisexual virgin in a Hello Kitty T shirt and plans to paint himself to success and happiness with his art.

Parker is a 200 pound football player with the intelligence and language skills of an ox, who was also a subject on the photograph. He was swigging from a whisky bottle with a hand on the afore mentioned boobs.

Felix is the film maker moved by the fact that the film Tangerine was  shot on iPhone 5’s. Can he do it with this story and get to Sundance film festival?

Great cover. You see this cover and you want to pick the book up. It’s a rivetting story get into it.

 

 

 

I Hate Everyone but You by Gaby Dunn & Allison Raskin.

September 30, 2017 Comments off

I hate everyoneI Hate Everyone but You by Gaby Dunn & Allison Raskin. pub. Allen&Unwin, 2017.

I guess this is the sort of novel that had to happen. It is written in texts and emails between two girlfriends, Gen and Ava, who text each other at all times of the day and before during and after every event in their lives. It’s the modern relationship.

Gen and Ava were friends at High School in California but now Ava has gone to film school in Boston and Gen has stayed home and goes to a journalism school. I liked and would like to know both of them.

Ava fantasizes about accepting an Oscar and thanking her parents after falling on the steps to the podium. Gen wants to write things that change the world and walk into rooms full of people who fear her. Ava is flirting with bisexuality but Gen thinks she is skating on thin ice. Gen believes men’s infrastructure is designed for failure. Each has many relationships to test their beliefs. The dialogue between them is sharp, witty, perceptive, honest with a fair dose of crying for help.

The action takes place over the first semester of College and it tests their friendship to the limit. Will it survive? In between times there is first sex both hetero and gay and the full gambit of emotions are exposed. Whats more it is enormously funny.

Some will say this novel is for teenage and young adult girls and women, but a guy would be a fool not to tune into all this feminist  wisdom. I loved it.

The authors are close friends as you will imagine and their dialogue is heart felt and real albeit at times tongue in cheek. They started comedy on the YouTube channel Just between us and as far as I am concerned they can write for as long as they want.