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Posts Tagged ‘teenage relationships’

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.

My Life as A Hashtag by Gabrielle Williams

May 28, 2017 Comments off

hashtagMy Life as A Hashtag by Gabrielle Williams. Pub. Allen&Unwin, 2017.

I regard this novel as one of the most important novels for teens and young adults that I have read. Why?  Because it deals with the whole way that teenagers and the young communicate using social media and the serious problems that can occur when things go wrong.

Social media can be a vicious forum where people can say what they like and the word or concept “friend” is a misnomer like no other.

MC is an ordinary girl with good friends who go to school, party and text and communicate with each other all day every day. It is the social norm.

Misunderstandings over a boy between MC and her friend Anouk cause a ruckus on Tumblr that goes viral and shakes everyone concerned to the core. And the boy wasn’t worth it. After MC has been left out of a party at Anouk’s she uses an App that uses any face to deliver a message. MC picks celebrities including Justin Bieber and the Queen with a corgi on her lap, to humiliate Anouk, and it goes viral.

MC doesn’t realise that what she has done is bullying and her life falls apart. Can she recover and sets things right? Read this amazing story and find out.

Lots of amusing girl talk, some of it bitchy, and some laugh out loud moments. Dialogue between characters is particularly strong and there is a total scoundrel of a boy character.

The message from Gabrielle Williams is loud and clear. Cyber bullying is not ok. You cannot go back once you press that enter button. What you write is always there and can be very damaging to everyone.

It ends positively fortunately. There is a better way, it is just matter of finding it.

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

May 21, 2017 Comments off

chemical heartsOur Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland. Pub. Hot Key Books, 2016.

There is a Japanese art form called Kintsukuroi in which you take a bowl or plate or a pot break it into pieces and stick it back together again so that it becomes more beautiful for having been broken.

This really is a metaphor for the relationship that develops between Henry Page who narrates the novel and Grace Town a beautiful, mysterious, damaged and thoroughly weird girl. Henry wonders what it will be like to fall in love and when he first sees Grace he knows he is drawn to her like a moth to a flame.

Henry struggles to get anything going with Grace, they text each other, work together on the school newspaper but one day she is hot the next cold. Then he finds out about a deep sadness that Grace is carrying around. Henry wants to care for Grace and for her to recognise that they are an item but Grace slips into the abyss and forgets the world exists. Grace tells Henry that “stories with happy endings are stories that haven’t finished yet”.

Henry finds out that this is true. The novel also asks the question do men feel romance?. Do they crush on girls and go through the same heartbreak as girls do over boys?

Brilliantly written in a style that draws on film, book and music trivia with bold dialogue and great depth on what it is like to be growing up and seeking love. I read this in two sittings I couldn’t put it down. Thank you Linley for recommending it to me.

For teenagers and young adults who like the novels of John Green and grew up with Harry Potter, The Twilight series and the music of the Strokes and the Pixies.

Don’t miss this one you will kick yourself if you do.

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom

February 9, 2017 Comments off

tragic-wonderfulA 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.