Saturday, April 25, 2015

Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay

How different would your life be if one thing could have happened another way or not happened at all? In Fiona's case, it is the accident - when she was five she burned her face leaving it scarred. She says she doesn't think about the 'what if...', but we get to see it for her.

This story alternates between Fiona, the girl with the scar, and Fi, the girl who never got burned. How much difference can living with a scar make? Fiona is more withdrawn and spends her time writing songs that she would never sing for anyone - it would mean opening herself up to others. She has spent her life being noticed and wants to draw as little attention to herself as possible.

Fi is a star lacrosse player. Although Fiona had the desire, getting hit in the face was too much of a risk for sports. Fi lives for lacrosse and is hoping to earn a scholarship to Northwestern. She hangs out with other popular athletes.

Fiona's grades are excellent; Fi needs to work harder. Fiona has a crush on Trent and has barely spoken to him; Fi and Trent are fellow athletes and best friends. Fiona's best friend is Lucy; Fi and Lucy can't stand each other.

Is Fi's life better without the scar? Would Fiona get rid of the scar if she could? It is a story with many questions and (fortunately) answers. It is sometimes confusing going back and forth between the different versions of Fiona (with the same people inhabiting her lives), but it is an intriguing story that make you ponder 'what if's...' about your own life.

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




Sunday, April 12, 2015

Alex As Well by Alyssa Brugman

Alex was born with a rare condition that makes her physically both a boy and a girl. When she was very young, her parents decided to raise her as a boy, but at fifteen she knows she's a girl. She stops taking her hormone medicine and starts wearing girl clothes. Her mother freaks out (as usual) and her dad walks out.

Alex enrolls herself in a new school where no one knows the truth or that she was recently a boy. Her hopes for a clean beginning are dashed when the school asks for a birth certificate. It's not her fault she was declared a boy at birth, but it is her burden to bear. Alex stops at the first barrister (aka lawyer) she sees to learn how she can change her birth certificate.

Even though Alex lives in constant fear of being discovered, she likes her new school. She meets a group of friends including the beautiful Amina (yes, Alex is crushing on her from their first meeting). She gets the opportunity to be a model and wear amazing clothes and make up. It is such a girly thing to do and Alex loves it.

Alex's parents have never dealt with her condition in the best way for Alex, and this new decision has pushed them beyond their limits. Her mother (who we follow in her blog posts) is convinced it's just a phase and Alex is too young to know what 'he' really wants. Her judgment is questionable at best. Alex's father tries and is more accepting but still struggles with the change. Of course, guilt is weighing on them as well.

Alex has had a tough road and it's never going to be as easy as it should be. Society has a difficult time dealing with things that do not mesh with the perceived norm. Alex is just another teen with more obstacles than most struggling to find her place in the world.

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




Monday, March 23, 2015

Inherit Midnight by Kate Kae Myers

Eight people flying around the world to historic locations, solving riddles, tackling physical challenges - the latest reality show? No, it is Avery's life, at least until she or one of her family members wins this contest.

After a nearly successful escape from her boarding school, Avery is returned to the mansion where she grew up under the watchful eye of her Grandmother VanDemere. For Avery, the mansion was like a prison - no sleepovers, no dating, no leaving the house except for school.

Grandmother is obsessed with family history and preserving the name VanDemere. Avery's existence is a black mark on that heritage. Her father had an affair with the nanny and Avery was the result. After that her alcoholic father disappeared, so Avery grew up with only her grandmother and occasional visits from her snobby cousins who look down on her.

Grandmother Vandemere is not happy with her sons or grandchildren and decides the only way to find a worthy heir to the family fortune is to pit them against each other. If it means Avery doesn't have to return to school, she will try her best at the competition. She faces backstabbing, cheating and uncles more knowledgeable in family history.

With the family lawyer's attractive son at her side, Avery sets out to the seemingly impossible task of taking on the family she loathes. Avery is not prepared for the things she discovers about herself and her family along the way.

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



Sunday, March 22, 2015

We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a True Story by Josh Sundquist

Have you ever thought about tracking down all your exes to find out the real reasons you broke up? If you have, why stop there? Why not ask all the ones you dated one time or kissed a few times or held hands with once in 6th grade? Josh Lindquist wanted to know why by the age of 25 he had never had a girlfriend, so he decided to investigate and yes, this is a true story.

Before we delve into Josh's quest, it is important to know that Josh had his leg amputated at age nine due to cancer. As much as he tries to not draw attention to it being an amputee definitely affects his behavior and psyche.

Josh contacted each significant girl from his past and analyzed their reasons for not wanting to take their relationship further. We get the background of each 'relationship.' Sarah is the first. During a game of Truth or Dare on a school bus, Sarah said she didn't like Josh, but he found out later that she did. We learn how awkward Josh can be when trying to figure out if Sarah wants to be his girlfriend. Josh is clueless about girls which makes him a normal eighth grade boy. Of course when you are in the middle of your awkwardness, you don't realize that you are a normal teenager. You only know that you are embarrassed and feel completely stupid.

Josh follows up with a hypothesis on the reasons the relationships ended. He then recounts what happened when he met each girl (who are now women) again. He calls this part the 'investigation.' Charts and graphs are included (although they are not really based on data).

As a real life inspirational speaker, Josh tells his story with humor and purpose. I laughed out loud many times and sympathized with his difficulty trying to interact with girls. If you've ever been a teen interested in having a relationship, you will relate to something in this story.

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



Monday, March 16, 2015

Surf Mules by G. Neri

For surfers, it's all about the next big wave. Hitting the surf whenever possible to ride that perfect wave is a lifestyle. Logan and Z-boy never want to give that up. Just after high school (Logan graduated, Z-boy was short a few credits), they wonder about the rest of their lives. It's tough to make a living as a surfer, so they decide to become drug runners to make a lot of money quickly.

There are better ways to deal with your future plans than getting involved with drugs, but the opportunity presents itself at moment when their lives aren't exactly stellar. Logan and Z-boy just lost their close friend, Fin. He was an excellent surfer, but took a hit on a huge wave and never came back up. Logan recently fought with Fin and never reconciled. Also, Logan's deadbeat dad has his college fund tied up in debts. Z-boy has nothing to look forward to except the waves.

If the two could make enough money to buy a nice place near the ocean, they could live carefree for the rest of their lives surfing, smoking pot and meeting women. When someone connects them to a big time dealer who will pay them to drive a car filled with pot across the country to be sold, they see the possibilities of a bright future. They've never really traveled beyond California, but now they must drive to Florida under the guise of being young Republicans out to recruit for the party. Two inexperienced surfer dudes crossing the country on their own for the first time with a car full of illegal drugs, what could go wrong?

Even though we know these young men have made a stupid decision (not mention an illegal one) we hope they succeed. We want them to get back safe. They have long lives ahead of them and plenty of waves to catch.

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



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

I'm Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil

JJ Green wants to be a professional songwriter. Her mom is a lawyer. Her dad is a judge. Her brother is in law school. Hmmm...I wonder what they want her to do?

Luckily for JJ, she lives in New York City. In 1963, there is no place better for aspiring songwriters than the Brill Building, home to successful music composers and publishers.

JJ's mom has nothing kind to say about the music business (largely due to her brother Bernie), but has agreed to let JJ work the summer as an intern in the Brill Building with the stipulation that JJ has to write a song that becomes a hit record by the end of summer or she gives up her dream of becoming a professional songwriter.

JJ often has lunch with her estranged Uncle Bernie (who is a big executive in the building). She is happy to learn from him, but she would never tell her mother about their contact. She meets Luke, who at first is aloof and mysterious, but turns out to be a lyricist who immediately understands her music. JJ befriends the night janitor who turns out to be the once famous singer Dulcie Brown herself. It is a fateful friendship that reveals much about everyone's past. And then there is the murder...

...Or is it suicide like the police think? This is not just a story of a girl trying to prove something to herself and her parents (with a little romance thrown in, too). JJ must solve the murder of someone close to her - it becomes more important than anything else that summer including songwriting.

Cynthia Weil, the author, is a songwriter who worked in the Brill Building in 1960s and along with her husband wrote some of the most famous pop songs of the time.

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


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond

What if Germany had won World War II? The life you know would not exist - you would not exist. There would have been no Beatles, no Martin Luther King, no walk on the moon, no President Obama. Everything we have known for that last 70 years would not have happened.

Knowing the premise, I expected that Germany would have won the war by changing one thing in history (like they built the atomic bomb first), but it turns out that they created genetically altered superhumans. That's how they overran Europe and eventually the United States. The US has been divided up: Germany controls the East, Japan the West, and Italy the Dakota region.

Zara lives in the same year we do now, but you wouldn't recognize it. Nazi's live in big, fancy houses in the center of town. Zara lives with her Uncle Red in a shack on a farm in the country. She is the descendent of Americans - even worse for her, she is part Japanese. Mixed race people are looked down upon even more than non-Germans.

Zara's uncle is a resistance fighter, but lost all energy after her mother was killed for being part of the resistance, too. Zara wants nothing more than to be part of the resistance and fight the Nazi's but her uncle refuses to let her. She lives a dreary life being a cleaning girl in a fancy prep school during the day and working on the farm until dark. The Nazi rule has left little hope for anyone not in step with the regime.

Zara is also an anomaly, a person with special powers (just another bit of science fiction). She can control the wind, even creating a tornado if she chooses. If the Nazi's found out, they would kill her for sure. It is this secret and her family's connection to the resistance that make Bastian's attention so unnerving. Bastian is a student at the prep school and the son of one of a ruthless Nazi colonel. Zara must choose her words carefully when he speaks to her, because she does not know his motive for the conversations.

As the Nazi atrocities hit closer to home, Zara is swept up in the movement to help restore America. The action and suspense will not disappoint.

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