Monday, December 8, 2014

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King

I have no idea how A.S. King comes up with her ideas. Her characters are so different from anything I could ever think up and they live in such unique circumstances (that are often somber). And the things they think and do are so intriguing. For all these reasons and more, she is one of my favorite authors.

So much to say about Glory's life. Let's start with her mother who committed suicide by sticking her head in the oven when Glory was only 4. Her mom was talented photographer with a deep interest in the process of developing pictures. Glory takes picture, too, and aspires to be like her mother.

Glory lives with her father in the same house where the suicide occurred (the stove is gone and never replaced). He was an artist who now spends his time sitting on the couch doing tech support from his laptop. He does not talk about Darla (Glory's mom) and has left Glory with a lot of unanswered questions.

Across from their house, there is a commune where Glory's best friend, Ellie lives. Ellie's mom, Jasmine, runs the commune. Ellie stopped going to school a long time ago and will not be graduating with Glory in a few days. Glory wonders if their friendship should continue. Pretty normal stuff so far...

I will not elaborate how, but Glory and Ellie do something that allows them to see a person's past and future when looking at their face. Not just the person, but generations in the past and future.Glory sees what is going to happen to people and society in the not too distant future, and it isn't pretty (if its even real).

Glory's life is in transition as she is graduating. She wonders about her mother, discovering more about her through things left behind in her dark room. She questions her relationship with Ellie. She writes down her visions of the future. She wonders where she fits in the world. It's confusing enough for any teen without having to see the future of mankind.

Another good one from this author who bends reality just enough to make things interesting.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander

Charlie is one of the smart ones. He attends Bright School of Mathematics and Science. His dream is to go to MIT (even though he hasn't sent in the early admission forms yet). Charlie is tall and lanky with blonde hair. When it comes to girls, he has always been awkward. Now, it is his senior year and he is ready to concentrate on school work and not worry about girls until...OK, like you didn't see this coming...he meets Charlotte.

Charlie has never seen Charlotte before the day he touches the infinity tattoo on the back of her neck while waiting in line to get donuts. Not the smartest thing to do, but they briefly speake and it is kind of flirty. Charlie's brain usually so full of equations and theorems is very distracted by this girl with the tattoo.

One thing that can help keep his mind on something else is the new English teacher. Being science minded, none of the Brighton students like the idea of reading poetry and literature. So each year it becomes a game to torment the new teacher until her/she leaves. This has been very successful, but this year's teacher, Ms. Finch, is on to them and openly welcomes the challenge. Charlie is at first reluctant to participate but circumstances make him the leader of all the pranks.

It might have been easier for Charlie to forget Charlotte until he finds her in his kitchen one day. It turns out she has become his sister Becca's new (and only) friend (Charlie isn't the only socially awkward person in his house). So there is Charlotte in his house everyday after school, sleeping over, hanging out on weekends. She practically lives there!

It is whole new world for Charlie. With encouragement of his friends, Greta and James (and once he actually tells them about her), Charlie decides that maybe getting to know Charlotte would be a good thing. Even being distracted by her has lead to new discoveries (I'm not going to go into the details about Charlie driving off the road into an old lady's prized flower garden and what happens as a result).

It's a nice story of young awkward love and the potential for everything.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Fan Art by Sarah Tregay

Why can't we all just be who we are? I have spent too much of my life worrying about what other people think of me. It takes a lot of energy to hide part of yourself from others in fear of being rejected.

Jamie is gay and has been out to his family for awhile, but not at school. Jamie is a afraid to tell his best friend Mason he is gay because it could ruin everything between them. Also, Jamie has a crush on Mason, the same guy Jamie sees kissing a girl after the prom.

So Jamie plans to take a girl to the prom (if he can figure out who) and work on the school literary magazine and maybe he will never have to tell Mason (even though next year they are going to colleges located near each other). Who is he kidding - Mason will find out and it will all be ruined.

Another problem...the girls in art class know Jamie is gay. How is that possible? He never told any of them. Even worse - they know he has a crush on Mason and think it would great for them to get together.

If that weren't enough, Jamie is also battling his fellow staff members on the inclusion of a student drawn comic in the magazine. They reject it for fear of controversy and possible loss of funds, but Jamie feels strongly that it should be included even if it might reveal his secret.

Never having to worry about coming out, I can only imagine the inner turmoil the decision can cause. This story is a light hearted look at the struggle a teen faces. You will find yourself hoping all turns out well for Jamie.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin

It seems as a society, we want people to be either good or bad, but people are complex and contain at least some of both. Imagine if people in your life were interviewed about you. Would it be an accurate portrayal? How well do people really know you? Does this book tell us about the real Addison Stone...we may never know, but its all we have.

Addison Stone was a hot young artist who exploded onto the New York scene when she was just 16. She quickly became a regular face at all the clubs and best parties. Her work hangs in important galleries and in the homes of the wealthy. Her stunts and public pieces helped make her famous through social media. It was during the installation of one of these that she fell to her death leaving many questions (including the whereabouts of two former boyfriends). She was 18 at the time.

We learn of Addison's life and quick rise to fame through from the people she knew (parents, best friend, teachers, benefactors, agent, artists).  The book is written as if a journalist conducted interviews and edited them to tell Addison's story. It is an effective method and makes the character seem more real. We also see photos of Addison, her friends and her art as well as magazine and newspaper articles. This is particularly helpful since the story is told through the first person accounts and lacks the description you find in the regular novel.

Addison is a small town girl who is anxious to leave and then makes good in the big city. Sadly, her issues stay with her no matter where she is living or working. We are given a few excerpts in Addison's own words, but it is difficult to know what is truly going on in her head. Genius often seems to walk a fine line between sanity and madness. Could anyone have saved Addison or was she ultimately destined to burn brightly and have a short life.

For more information, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga

Wow. What an ending to this trilogy. Mr. Lyga does not disappoint in this continuing tale of Jazz, son of notorious serial killer Billy Dent.

How do I talk about this without giving away too much? (Hint: I'm not going to!) Jazz, his girlfriend Connie and his best friend Howie have been separated by circumstances. Jazz is in New York seriously injured and in danger of being arrested. Connie is also in New York and has no idea what has happened to Jazz (oh, she was lured there by Jazz's dad). Howie is back in Lobo's Nod, small hometown to he and Jazz. Surprise, surprise, Howie wakes up in a hospital after a near scrape with death. Being Jazz's friend is tough business.

The story is a non stop run through violence, surprise revelations, deceptions, nail biting suspense and trips through the mind of a serial killer. As with the previous two books, it is not for the faint of heart.

What ultimately drives the story is Jazz's decision that he must be the one to stop his father. He knows how Billy thinks better than anyone. Jazz knows sacrificing himself (if need be) is better than letting Billy live to kill again.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

This has been on my radar for quite some time. I heard about it at a couple of conferences I attended, but didn't think much about it. Fortunately, a young person at my library recommended it to me, and I cannot wait to tell her how much I liked it.

Once again I found myself in the pages of a book. Ari, our narrator, says things that I have thought in my own head (and even said out loud to a few people). I always pause when I hit one of those lines. It is a moment of clarity and wonder. I am always surprised that others have felt the same way that I have. But enough about me...

Ari doesn't have any friends until he meets Dante. And he questions their friendship often (for a long time). Dante is so different. He seems so sure of things and thinks about life a unique way. Dante's father is a professor; his mother a therapist. They are outgoing and friendly. Ari's dad doesn't say much; he was in Vietnam and never talks about it. His mom is a teacher and more open with Ari, but she, too, keeps things locked inside. Neither talk about Ari's older brother who is in prison.

Ari wants nothing more than to know about his brother. He was just a child when his brother was incarcerated, so he has only possible memories of him. Ari wants someone to at least acknowledge that his brother exists.

With Dante, Ari's life is more interesting and frustrating at times. They are both growing and learning about themselves as tragedies happen and events separate them.

If it seems like I am being purposely vague, that would be because I am. I don't want to give anything away in this amazing story about these boys and their complex relationship with each other and their parents.

Books fascinate me. If you read enough and you are lucky, you might find one that speaks to you on levels you never could have imagined. This is one of those books for me.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Fifteen Minutes of Fame by Julie Young

MonAmi is a world famous superstar singer. She has had numerous hit songs, sold millions of albums, and toured the planet multiple times. She wears custom made clothes with dazzling makeup. Megan is a Midwestern girl who enjoys singing and writing songs. She grew up in a nice house with hard working parents and a younger sister. MonAmi and Megan are the same person, but few people know it.

Megan lives a double life as her career is carefully managed and promoted. All goes as planned because from the time she begins her career at 15 Megan becomes one of the most successful singers ever. But through it all, Megan misses her family and feels the stress of keeping her success alive with an ever fickle public and of meeting the demands of the record company who has invested to much in her success to let her fail.

We begin our story with Megan running away at the end of MonAmi's farewell tour. She just disappears not even telling her long time (and mostly trusted) manager, Mike. Her rise to fame has been stressful - working hours writing and recording, doing tours that always have to top the last one, making appearances at award shows on the arm of some famous actor she doesn't even know. And through it all, she cannot tell the world who she really is.

Megan was just the person the record company was looking for when they 'discovered' through a scholarship application. After her reluctant parents were convinced that this was an opportunity to good to pass up, Megan was whisked away to Europe for months to make her transformation into MonAmi. She was given the new name, a new look (to hide her true face) and a vague history (along with a somewhat European accent).

As the runaway, Megan recounts her story for us while she decides what her next move will be. Megan is a great character that is living the dream, but finds that even dreams can have a darkness to them. It is an intriguing look into the music business and the 'manufactured' star as well as our culture of instant celebrity.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.