Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

Jazz's dad is a notorious serial killer who got caught because he started killing people in the small town where he grew up.

Jazz was raised by a man who shared the gory details of his killings. He taught Jazz how to be a killer and now Jazz struggles with those urges in every aspect of his life. For the past four years, Jazz's dad has been in prison and Jazz has lived with his grandmother, the woman who raised his father. She is no longer mentally stable (if she ever was).

When a body is found in a field, Jazz and the town must relive the killings of his father that brought them world wide attention. Jazz tries to help the sheriff (the one who caught his father) because Jazz knows how serial killers think. He knows this murder is not isolated. He knows that the killer is copying his dad's first murders. Jazz knows he can help catch this new murderer. But can he convince the sheriff?

Jazz is a victim of his circumstances. He is a tortured soul. He seriously doubts his own ability to control his urges to kill. He knows how to do it and get away with it. Jazz wants to catch the killer even at great risk to himself and those around him - maybe to prove to himself and others that he is not like his father.

Barry Lyga is one of my favorite authors, and he has created another memorable book that tackles tough subject matter.

For more information about this book, check out the Evergreen library catalog and the Barry Lyga's website.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Tessa Masterson Will Go to Prom by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin

Lucas and Tessa have been best friends for as long as they can remember. Now as seniors, Lucas is ready to profess his feelings for Tessa and ask her to the prom with a grand gesture that the whole town will see. Imagine his shock when Tessa confesses that she actually likes girls. It's bad enough that she embarrassed him but how could she keep this secret from him when they always shared everything.

It doesn't take long for everyone in town to know Tessa turned Lucas down AND that she recently bought a man's tux for the prom (she is hoping to go with her co-worker, Josie). People protest in front of her family's small store that is struggling to survive against the massive new store that came to town. Her locker is vandalized at school. She is taunted and pelted with food. Tessa can't even talk to her best friend Lucas because he is not speaking to her anymore.

The school tells Tessa she cannot go to the dance with another girl or dressed in boy's clothes. What will the school board decide when Tessa's family files an official protest? What can they do since Tessa states that she will go to prom?

Ultimately, this is not just about whether Tessa can attend prom; it is about being accepted by friends, family and society as a whole. Having grown up in a small Indiana town similar to the one in this story (although mine was urban and not rural), I can only wonder what the reaction would have been if two teens of the same sex had wanted to go to prom. It was a different time for sure. No one was openly gay in my school, but I have no doubt there was someone who dreamed of going to the prom with a member of the same sex.

Although this book has a lighter tone that it could have, this is a serious real issue for many. With all the talk of bullying among young people, there are too many adults bullying young people and encouraging others to do the same. I hope this book continues to raise awareness that people are more the same than they are different and that acceptance of others is a great gift.

For more info about this book visit the Evergreen catalog or visit Emily Franklin's and Brendan Halpin's website.