A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom. Imprint HarperCollins, 2017.
This is a senior Young Adult novel from a brilliant writer who knows how to unlock and discuss serious emotional and mental conditions in young people. It is positive.
When Mel was thirteen her older brother who lit up her life died. The family shifted house, the parents separated and Mel never told any of her friends that she had had a brother.
Mel had a breakdown and now takes a whole lot of drugs including ritalin to level her out. Now she is sixteen in a new school with new friends and working in an old peoples home called Silver Sands.
Every chapter is headed by the same four headings of animals beginning with H. Hamster describes her head condition, Hummingbird her heart, Hammerhead her physical condition and Hannigananimal whether she is up or down.
Mel sees herself as an antisocial underachiever, but she is not. Her manner at the Silver Sands retirement home is outstanding. She is caring and perceptive and she is going to get better.
Mel narrates the story of her life at school and with her friends and family and between these chapters there are chapters written in italics that tell about her brother and her arguements with friends that get to the heart of her mental state.
Battles are never won. Only survived. The dialogue between characters and the relationships between teenagers and adults are excellently handled.
Beautifully written in short sharp chapters that will keep you in the book. I couldn’t put it down. Eric Lindstrom also has Not If I See You First reviewed on this blog.
Nightfall by Jake Halpern & Peter Kujawinski. Pub. Hot key Books, 2015.
This highly original book on survival in a dark world is for teenagers and young adults.
Set on the island of Bliss, a name that is far from the truth because life is far from easy. The island is surrounded by cliffs with no easy access to the sea and the cycle of life is dictated by 14 years of daylight followed by 14 years of darkness. The hinterland is forested and nobody goes there for fear of wild animals, monsters and demons.
The years of daylight are almost at an end and the islanders are preparing to evacuate to the desert lands of the south where the cycle of life is 3 days light and 3 days dark.
Marin and Kana are 14 year old twins, both share a friend in Line but the relationship is changing as Line notices Marin’s curves and she notices his muscles. The islanders are going through a ritualistic preparation to leave. They are cleaning their houses, removing locks and setting tables with heavy plates. There is talk of spirits and monsters coming with the dark and an urgency to leave before the night falls and the sea withdraws.
Through circumstances that you will have to read the book to find out, Marin, Kana and Line are left behind on the island and on their first night alone they learn that what their parents and elders said was true.
Then in an unexpected surrealistic twist in the plot Kana takes his boots off and discovers an astonishing transformation.
Tensions are high and the action swift and often brutal. If you have a fear of the dark then this book is not going to make it easy for you. Confront your fears and read one of the most absorbing novels I have read for a while.
Great cover and structured in short easy to read chapters that make you want to keep reading. If you miss this you will kick yourself.
Lonesome. When You Go by Saradha Koirala.. Pub. Makaro press, 2016.
Thoroughly enjoyed this novel about rock bands, music, school and teenage angst. It was like, and I quote from the author, opening a hot meat pie and having all the meatiness flood out at you.
The main character and narrator is Paige, a cool bass player for a school Indie band called Vox Pop.The band aspire to win the Rockfest competition for high school bands, they think they are pretty good but life does not go smooth for them. They have musical differences and personal differences and of course problems about school and in their family life.
Paige has a best friend Lily who is flighty, another friend Molly who has an eating disorder and a sister Rose who has relationship problems but is a really good older sister.
The bass players role in any band is to keep a steady rhythm and Paige does this in spite of the chaos all around her. Two male band members have a thing about Paige and she doesn’t know it. Cool chicks never do.
The drama derives from the Rockfest competition, will they won’t they, then the ultimate crisis when a band member has to be replaced on the eve of the final.
Musos will love this book and it will fill a gap in many school collections.
Structured in day by day accounts during all 4 school terms and in the first term of the following year. Well written, witty, perceptive and real. As Bob Dylan once wrote “get sick get well, hang around the ink well”.
..”the thing about parents. They usually come to the party – it’s like it or lump it with kids…” If there is a definitive line in this novel than this is it.
Elliot is 17 and he’s cruising. After a spell away from home with a wild punk chick called Lena he is back with an anarchist tattoo on his neck after a wild night with Lena. His parents are not happy and his father ships him off to live with an old navy mate, Arnie, in Wellington and train as an electrician.
Elliot is not well pleased but his family including brother Rick are. They regard Lena as a slut. Elliot knuckles under but on a return home for New Year’s eve party with his mates, Lena seeks him out again and has her wicked way in the back of a ute. It rained too.
a couple of months later the chickens come home to roost. Lena is pregnant and emphatic the the child is Elliot’s. Elliot tells Arnie and his mates but not his parents. Then there is an accident at work and the plot changes course.
Great story, great ending, very well structured and written, believable characters and strong themes for teenage readers. Get this it will be popular.
If you like tragic young adult stories this is about as tragic as it gets, but so wonderfully told.
Janie and her secret boyfriend Micah share the same birthday. They call it Metaphor Day after a pile of rocks that stands near a deep quarry full of water near both their houses. They are different yet together. Micah likes Rachmaninoff Prelude in G Minor, Janie is Let it Be by the Beatles. Janie carries rocks from the Metaphor around in her pocket.
They tell no-one of their relationship because Janie wants it that way, meanwhile she has a relationship with a jock called Ander from school. He is repulsive and his actions ultimately lead to Janie’s collapse.
Lewis Carroll once said “all the best people are crazy” and I think this sums up the characters in the book well, but then aren’t we all. This is a school story about growing up.
The novel is structured in two parts, Once Upon a Time and Happily Ever After and within each part their are three narratives – a Before narrative by Janie, an After narrative by Micah and a Journal kept by Janie which provides a fairytale dimension to Janie’s life and to the story.
It took me a while to get into this novel but once in there I dwelt for long periods digesting every word, action, emotion and fantasy. You will too. It is not unlike All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. It is very deep and not for everybody but those that like it will remember it forever.
Fourteen year old Ethan moves with his parents from New York to Tennesse and on his first night in their new house he turns into a girl called Drew. His parents are delighted. Not only that but he/she has a whole record as a girl and is enrolled at the local high school.
His parents belong to a special human race that believe by changing that a better understanding of each other is possible and that human problems will subside because of it. Everybody who belongs to the Changers will change 4 times in their teenage years and then opt for the change that most suits them.
During the change Drew has a minder called Stacey who is to monitor progress, give advice and to instruct Drew on the Book of Change.
From being and thinking like a teenage boy to acting and being a teenage girl proves a shock to Ethan. Drew has breasts and gets a period, how will he cope with that. He is hit upon by boys.
Every night he has to keep a diary of how she is feeling and slowly he starts to get used to being a girl and doing girl things. Drew becomes a cheerleader at the local school, joins a rock band as a drummer and feels a strong attraction to a boy called Chase.
The Changers have several strict rules that read like the Ten Commandments and one of them is there is to be no relationships between Changers. Chase is a Changer too.
This is part one of a series by a husband and wife team so you get very good male and female points of view and lots of issues to work through.
This will be popular with teen readers, I was riveted. Part 2 is on the way