Archive

Posts Tagged ‘teenage relationships’

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.

Funny Kid: prank wars by Matt Stanton.

July 17, 2018 Comments off

PRANK WARSFunny Kid: prank wars by Matt Stanton. Pub. ABC Books, 2018.

It had to happen to funny kid Max even though he has always thought that girls are gross. Yes he is 11 years old and he has started to notice the girls, well one girl in particular – Pip.

He has always had a tussle with Abbey and that still goes on, but Pip makes him feel like no girl ever has. Yes he is falling in lurv. The trouble is new girl Pip has a twin brother Tyson who is a prankster and he is going to ruffle Max’s feathers while Max is trying to get Pip to notice him.

Things get quite lively as Max and Tyson play tricks on each other on a school camp to Lake Quiet where it is rumoured  an extinct dragon has been spotted. The girls think it exists but the boys are nah.

Read it and find out what happens. Max’s best friend Hugo is back, Abbey is back as is duck. It all makes for great fun especially for reluctant boy readers of primary and intermediate age.

Because Everything is Right but Everything is Wrong by Erin Donohue.

June 26, 2018 Comments off

Everything rightBecause Everything is Right but Everything is Wrong by Erin Donohue. Pub. Escalator Press Whitireia, 2017.

The New Zealand Children and Young Adults Book Awards often recognise a novel that is right out of left field and this one is about the very important subject of mental illness, particularly with teens.

Caleb is in year 13 and until now has been a very competent student. Now he wonders if you can be lost and not know it. He suffers from two conditions that dominate his life -the Fear during which he can barely breathe and the Deadness which makes him want to stay in bed and do nothing.

At school his grades fall, he doesn’t do the required work and he wonders how he will function outside of school if he can’t function inside school.

His parents and little brother are at their wits end. “Its like he’s not even there”.

Then Casey appears. A rebellious attractive girl that taunts Caleb and her presence is the mystery of the novel and the catalyst that leads to him having treatment for mental illness.

Clearly written from experience the novel does not demonise mental illness but carefully analyses Caleb’s breakdown. I cannot comment on the treatment given to Caleb, I just don’t know but I was glad none of the drugs that he is treated with are mentioned.

I thought the attitude of Caleb’s parents was superb and that of his friends and little brother commendable.

Short and to the point which makes for compelling reading for teens and young adults.

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.