Review- You Are My Only by Beth Kephart

                     You Are My Only

Emmy Rane is married at nineteen, a mother by twenty. Trapped in a life with a husband she no longer loves, Baby is her only joy. Then one sunny day in September, Emmy takes a few fateful steps away from her baby and returns to find her missing. All that is left behind is a yellow sock.

Fourteen years later, Sophie, a homeschooled, reclusive teenage girl is forced to move frequently and abruptly from place to place, perpetually running from what her mother calls the “No Good.” One afternoon, Sophie breaks the rules, ventures out, and meets Joey and his two aunts. It is this loving family that gives Sophie the courage to look into her past. What she discovers changes her world forever. . .

Bummer. This book did nothing for me.  It was not what I expected after reading the description on the book jacket. It could have been a wonderful interesting story, but I think the writing style really turned me off.  It was jerky, confusing and trying way too hard to be poetic. Many times, I found myself skimming through the slow moving book (thank goodness it was short or else I wouldn’t have finished).  The story doesn’t even pick up till the every end. Overall, I didn’t connect to the book and I doubt I’ll be reading anything from Kephart again.

Bookit Review: Playground by 50 Cent (with Laura Moser)

From Goodreads:

Thirteen-year-old Butterball doesn’t have much going for him. He’s teased mercilessly about his weight. He hates the Long Island suburb his mom moved them to and wishes he still lived with his dad in the city. And now he’s stuck talking to a totally out-of-touch therapist named Liz. Liz tries to uncover what happened that day on the playground—a day that landed one kid in the hospital and Butterball in detention. Butterball refuses to let her in on the truth, and while he evades her questions, he takes readers on a journey through the moments that made him into the playground bully he is today.

Coming from 50 Cent I was expecting a story more elicit with violence, gang peer pressure and hard to read content about abusive relationships. However, I found Butterball’s story in touch with the school peer pressure and bullying faced by many urban teens. Butterball is sent to see a therapist for a violent act he commits at school, but through his sessions with his therapists both the protagonist and the reader come to understand why he has acted out in certain ways and how he comes to make more thoughtful decisions about what is important to him in life.

This story offers teens who have been bullied, and more importantly teens who do bully, the chance to learn and be inspired by the life of an artist who has achieved the urban American Dream. The language of the book is street lit credible but with a light tone (i.e. the word ‘shit’ is as bad as it gets) and the story is aided with images that look they have been created in a spray paint caricature cartoon look.

Overall it was a 3 out of 5 book for me.

Happy reading,

Bookit

Review: Winter town by Stephen Emond

Every winter, straight-laced, Ivy League bound Evan looks forward to a visit from Lucy, a childhood pal who moved away after her parent’s divorce. But when Lucy arrives this year, she’s changed. The former “girl next door” now has chopped dyed black hair, a nose stud, and a scowl. But Evan knows that somewhere beneath the Goth, “Old Lucy” still exists, and he’s determined to find her… even if it means pissing her off.

I think Emonds did a great job at writing a contemporary YA novel that tackles issues that have long plagued teens and young adults. In the book, Lucy is experiencing the effects of a broken home and turning to drugs and alcohol. On the flip side, Evan is dealing with his micromanaging parents and trying to live up to their expectations.

Both Evan’s and Lucy’s story is told in third person. The first half is Evan’s perspective and the second is Lucy’s. I found that it was less confusing than alternating chapters. It is interesting to note that Evan’s chapters were named after Beatles songs, and Lucy’s had Beach Boys (their favourite artists).

Visual elements played a big part in the book starting with the beautiful cover.  Circles created from a hole punch were used as snow!  Since art/comics are significant in both Evan and Lily’s lives there are bits of cartoons throughout the story. At the beginning of every chapter there is also a two-page cartoon spread. I’m not a huge cartoon/graphic novel lover so I have to admit I didn’t quite understand Evan’s drawings of ‘Aelysthia’ (Evan and Lucy’s made up fantasy world).

Overall, many teens will be able to relate to having dysfunctional families, the difficulty of maintaining childhood friendships, and living up to others expectations.  The book will also appeal to those that appreciate graphics to break up the text.

In the end, the book reminded me to not ‘sweat the small stuff’ in my daily life as others around me are often dealing with much bigger issues. On tough days, try to remember:


BookIt Guest Review-Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony & Rodrigo Corral

I rarely have the pleasure of coming across a picture book for teens so I was thrilled to come across the uniquely told story of Chopsticks.

After her mother died, Glory retreated into herself and her music. Her single father raised her as a piano prodigy, with a rigid schedule and the goal of playing sold-out shows across the globe. Now, as a teenager, Glory has disappeared. As we flash back to the events leading up to her disappearance, we see a girl on the precipice of disaster. Brilliant and lonely, Glory is drawn to an artistic new boy, Frank, who moves in next door. The farther she falls, the deeper she spirals into madness. Before long, Glory is unable to play anything but the song “Chopsticks.” But nothing is what it seems, and Glory’s reality is not reality at all. In this stunningly moving novel told in photographs, pictures, and words, it’s up to the reader to decide what is real, what is imagined, and what has been madness all along.

Chopsticks is not just a regular picture book, it is a story told through a  mix of images from photographs, letters, television shots, cell phone messages,  CD lists, artwork, menus, and more.  As a reader I felt like I was going the personal scrapbook of Glory, uncovering the key moments of her life from losing her mother to losing her grasp on reality. I think that this book would be a great choice for those who enjoy expressing themselves artistically. I went through the book several times, loving the images, and even followed it up by listening to some of the songs they share with each other. I believe teens will be able to identify with elements of the story, and enjoy the alternative format.

I give it 4 out of 5

Happy reading,

Bookit

p.s. check out the YouTube version of Chopsticks

Review: Before I go to Sleep by S.J Watson

‘As I sleep, my mind will erase everything I did today. I will wake up tomorrow as I did this morning. Thinking I’m still a child. Thinking I have a whole lifetime of choice ahead of me …’ Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love – all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story. Welcome to Christine’s life.

When I saw this massively hyped book at my library’s book sale for $1 I immediately scooped it up.  The last ‘adult’ book I read was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks last year so it was a nice change.  This book has been called a sinister version of ’50 First Dates’ and I have to agree.

I couldn’t imagine experiencing the psychological terror of waking up and not knowing where and who you are.  I found Christine’s emotions to be authentic as she constantly experiences confusion, terror, and sadness.  She records such emotions as well as the new facts she learns on a daily basis in her journal that she hides from her husband.  By doing so, Christine quickly picks up on inconsistencies and questions begin to arise.  Who can Christine truly trust?

Although there were a couple of issues that bothered me—especially the details surrounding the final reveal, I did enjoy the constant suspense.  There were many twists and turns and I was truly surprised by the ending.

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