When We Wake by Karen Healey

Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027—she’s happiest when playing the guitar, she’s falling in love for the first time, and she’s joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice.

But on what should have been the best day of Tegan’s life, she dies—and wakes up a hundred years later, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened.

The future isn’t all she had hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better world?

 

when we wake

I found When We Wake to be an interesting socio-political, dystopian YA read. The world building was fantastic, and Healey’s vision of the future 100 years from now felt very plausible. Some aspects of society had improved (acceptance of gender/sexual orientation), but others were worrisome (environment, displaced refugees).  Although thought provoking, at times it did get a bit preachy.

The plot itself had some twists and turns. As soon as the action ramped up, the book became a very quick read.  The pace picked up after Tegan finds out she is part of ‘Operation New Beginning’ and refuses to be the government’s guinea pig.  She fights for some resemblance of a normal life. In this ‘normal’ life, the Beatles are of great importance to Tegan.  They provide hope and comfort. I liked the many Beatles references and immediately picked up on the Beatles song titles as chapter headings.

If the fantastic cover hasn’t already swayed you, pick up this book if you want to explore a futuristic world with an action packed plot.  For those that enjoy series, there is a second book entitled, While We Run in the works (to be released May 2014).

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now.

Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read.

count

I picked up a digital copy of Counting by 7s at School Library Journal’s Summer Teen Virtual event. In short, this beautiful and touching middle grade story follows twelve year old, Willow Chance as she overcomes heartbreaking grief. Willow’s fascination with plants, medical issues, and the number 7 all play a key role in her healing. However, it is the diverse cast of well-developed characters, including a Vietnamese nail salon owner, taxicab driver, and deadbeat counselor that teach Willow the true meaning of family. While I loved the authenticity of these individuals, I truly hope that someone like Dell wouldn’t be able to slip through the school system and use unorthodox methods to counsel children. Scary!

Although I found the ending predictable, I really loved this sad, yet beautiful contemporary book. Willow’s story will completely absorb readers and warm your heart.

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