Monday, April 30, 2012

Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick

I really like Jordan Sonnenblick's books. This one was no exception. He writes about regular teens dealing with interesting problems. In this case, it is Peter who has more time on his hands now that he is no longer an athlete.

Going into his freshman year, Peter was planning on trying out for the baseball team with his best friend AJ. They switch back and forth as pitcher and catcher and together they were unstoppable. That is until Peter seriously injured his pitching arm during a game. He had been feeling the pain long before but ignored it and now he will never pitch a ball again (something he cannot bring himself to tell AJ).

Also, something is wrong with Peter's grandfather, but Peter promises not to tell his parents. Peter's grandfather, a professional photographer, has taught him all about cameras and taking pictures. One day when they are attempting to capture the image of an eagle in flight, Peter's grandfather blanks out and misses the eagle. Shortly there after, he gives Peter all his photography equipment. These blanking out episodes and memory loss are only getting worse.

The upside in Peter's life is Angelika who he meets in photography class. She volunteers them to be the sports photographers for the school paper, so they spend a lot of time together. They discover more about each other than the portraits they must take for a class assignment.

I'll admit that this is not my favorite book by this author, but I still like the story of a teen dealing with struggles with good people around him to help.

For more info about this book visit the Evergreen catalog or visit Jordan Sonnenblick's website.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

How do I describe this book? Let me start off by saying that I really liked it. I read it in less than a day which is kind of unusual for me. It is funny and quirky.

The narrator is Greg who is obviously writing the book (more than once he questions whether the reader will make it to the end of 'this stupid book'). Throughout the story, Greg is self deprecating to the reader and the other people in his life.

His goal throughout his school life it so go unrecognized. He has been successful at this by carefully navigating the different cliques. He makes himself acquainted with each one without becoming involved with them. This fragile network he has created is imperil when a girl he dated a long time ago (and treated badly during the break up) is diagnosed with cancer. Only the unrelenting urging of his mother could make him contact the girl, Rachel, to be her friend in her time of need. His senior year is turning out much differently than he planned.

And then there's Earl. Greg and Earl seemingly have little in common except for the movies they make together. They have been making them for years and admit they are not very good. Bad acting, terribly lighting, cheap costumes, homemade props all lead to a series of films no one else would want to see, and that is just fine because Earl and Greg both agree to never share them with anyone.

In addition to the typical format for a book, Greg often uses lists and a script format (to recreate dialogue). He deals with his own self esteem issues with humor that sometime works and sometimes gets him into trouble. Although Greg might not agree, he has an interesting life filled with intriguing characters.

For more info about this book visit the Evergreen catalog or visit Jesse Andrews' website.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Guy Langman: Crime Scene Procrastinator by Josh Berk

Guy Langman's dad is dead, and he realizes he doesn't know much about him. His mother (much younger than his dad) doesn't talk about her late husband and knows little about his younger days. Guy does know that his dad made his money by inventing a valve for scuba diving equipment and finding a sunken treasure. His dad also said many interesting things, so Guy is going to write a book of his dad's quotes.

Writing a book would be very ambitious for Guy who generally doesn't do much of anything. He is interested in video games and girls, but that won't get him very far in life. His friend, Anoop, talks him into joining the after school forensics club. It doesn't hurt that Raquel is in the club.

How is this all tied together? Well, someone breaks into Guy's house and steals coins from the sunken treasure. He and his friends decide to put their newly acquired forensics knowledge to the test since the police seem uninterested in the case. Guy knows whoever stole the coins must be connected to his dad.

The 'mystery' is not the main part of the story. It is ultimately about a young man discovering more about his father and coming to terms with his death.

For more info about this book visit the Westfield Washington Public Library catalog or visit Josh Berk's website.