Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Zero by Tom Leveen

Mike's eyes were the first thing she noticed. Even from his position up on stage behind the drums, his eyes were all Zero could focus on. She had never heard of Mike's band Gothic Rainbow, but they were good. Her best friend Jenn would tell Zero to speak to Mike. Jenn was the one with all the experience with guys. Zero had never really had a boyfriend. Too bad she was no longer talking to Jenn (putting an end to their plans of hanging out all summer until they left for college). 

Not that Zero's college plans had worked out. She'd been accepted to the Art Institute in Chicago, but failed to get the needed scholarship. No money meant staying in Phoenix and probably going to community college. It might also mean having to stay with her parents who did nothing but fight all the time.

Zero's summer takes a turn for the better when she decides to talk to Mike after the band's set. To her surprise, he is interested in her. He encourages her to pursue her art and go after what she wants like he is doing with the band. He wants a gold record and is working hard to get it. Gothic Rainbow is on the cusp of making it (at least in Phoenix). So if she wants to be an artist, she should go for it.

So she does. She takes a summer art class. She starts talking to Jenn again. She begins to appreciate her own curves instead of hiding behind baggy clothes. But things get messy again before it can get better.

Zero's hopes drive the story. He desire to get her life in the right direction keep things moving. She is a fascinating character that I cheered for and I hope you do, too.

For more information about this book, check out the Evergreen library catalog and the author's site.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The List by Siobhan Vivian

The list is an annual tradition at Mount Washington High. It is a vile exercise that lists the prettiest and the ugliest girls in each class and is then posted all over the school for everyone to see. The 'tradition' has gone on for as long as anyone can remember.

We follow the lives of all eight girls from the moment they find out they are on the list on Monday morning until the following Saturday at the homecoming dance. Their lives are all affected by their place on the list.

Without giving too much away...Candace is pretty and is put on the ugly list because of her personality; Danielle is athletic and is called manly; Lauren is a former home schooler and new to the school; Sarah is rebellious and has no interest and being a girly girl; Jennifer is a senior who has made the ugly list every year; Bridget has lost weight during the summer and has body image issues that lead to destructive behavior; Abby is pretty and not as scholarly as her older sister; Margo is the expected homecoming queen, but may lose her friends because of treating another girl badly.

The point of this story is not about the hunt and punishment of the list's creators. The list is the author's vehicle for discussing various issues facing girls. Bullying at all levels of society is a problem. These girls face school wide abuse - the 'pretty' ones as much as the 'ugly' ones. Each story is equally compelling and ultimately intertwined with the others. 

For more information on this book, check out the Evergreen library catalog and the author's site.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Lexapros and Cons by Aaron Karo

Pink Cons: Bored. Yellow Cons: Nervous. Blue Cons: Excited. Orange Cons: Tired. If anyone ever knew Chuck Taylor's secret system for choosing his shoes for the day, they would know how he is feeling. But no one in his school even acknowledges his existence (except his best friend Steve).

The shoe system is just one of Chuck's compulsive behaviors. He has to check the stove many times during the night to make sure it is off. He turns the dial on his locker 14 times before walking away. And his must wash his hands whether his touched anything dirty or not.

A quick internet search leads him to the conclusion that he has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). What starts out as a self diagnosis leads to an appointment with a psychiatrist and the possibility of prescribed medicine and cognitive behavioral therapy. Maybe Chuck was better off just being himself and living with OCD.

Being invisible and having these issues has left Chuck in his senior year with no girlfriend (ever). And then one day Amy, the new girl, is introduced to everyone in math class. For Chuck, it is love at first sight. For Amy...well, Chuck will tutor her and see how it goes, but he will NEVER tell her about his OCD.

On some level, I identify with Chuck (and not just because I have several pairs of Chuck Taylor Converse). I have some issues (not OCD) that I dealt with in a similar manner to Chuck. It is difficult being patient during treatment and realizing that your 'illness' will always be a part of you.

But I don't want you to think that this is a depressing story about a kid with a disease. The author is a comedian and he has given us a humorous story. I look forward to more books by him.

For more information about this book, check out the Evergreen library catalog and the author's site.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Thou Shalt Not Road Trip by Antony John

I love a road trip. I love packing the car and heading out  from home to see things in other places. I would love to see more of Route 66 - all those historic and sometimes wacky sites. When Luke sets out on a road with his brother Matt, he has no idea that's the kind of road trip he is on. He believes he is on a tour for his inspirational book Hallelujah: A Sprititual Chronicle of a Sixteen-Year-Old St. Louisan.

Luke's book started as an assignment for his church's youth group and was quickly published. Partly due to his appearance on the Pastor Mike Show, his book is selling well. His agent has trusted Luke and his brother to make the trip from California back to Missouri making stops at book stores for appearances. Matt has other plans - he wants them to stop at tourist spots to experience Route 66. He also has invited his girlfriend and her sister, Fran, who also happens to be the friend Luke hasn't spoken to in a year ever since she dyed her hair purple and started dressing differently. The trip didn't spiral out of control for Luke; it started that way. 

The book tour becomes a spiritual journey for Luke. He faces his 'fans' who expect so much of him. He gets reacquainted with Fran who he used to know so well. He must deal with the words in the book that he's not sure he believes anymore. He also must deal with the press who are looking for a story .

For more about this book, check out the Evergreen library catalog or the author's site.