Wednesday, November 27, 2013

You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle

Five 6 year olds are sitting around a table. They talk and giggle with each other. They have been filmed for a documentary called Five at Six that explores the lives of the young classmates. The success of the film amazes even its creators. Five years later, another film is made called Five at Eleven with the same group. What are they doing now? How have they changed? Now, it is five years later...

Those happy little children have grown up and apart. Felix and Nate were best friends once; now they do not speak to each other, forget about sitting at the same table. Olivia suffered a humiliation in the last film, so she keeps her distance from everyone except Nate. Rory and Justine were once close, too, but things have happened.

Justine has been expecting the call about being in the next documentary. She doesn't want to do it. Her life has not turned out the way everyone expected (just check the internet) including her. She's the one who stood out among the five - the one who was supposed to become something. Now, she watches the documentaries and thinks about all the things she gave up and why.

The tension is high as the group is brought back together under the scrutiny of the camera. They are more savvy now and guarded about their lives and how much the really want to reveal. They know the most dramatic bits will be used in the film. Somethings have gone unsaid for years, so they are hesitant to talk for the whole world to hear. Justine knows on some level that all five of them are being manipulated.

In science, it is believed that you cannot observe a system without changing it. The lives of these five young people have been affected by being in the documentary. The film is not just capturing the lives of these young people as they go through normal changes, it is also capturing how the films have changed them. Is it good or bad? You will have to decide that for yourself.

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

Monday, November 18, 2013

Zero Fade by Chris L. Terry

Kevin wants a lot of things. First, he wants a haircut - not the ragged haircut he gets from his mother, but a fade. Next, he wants a girlfriend - Aisha, the girl in his science class, is his first choice. Also, he wants to see the new Jim Carrey movie, The Mask. He and his best friend David love the TV show, In Living Color, so they cannot wait to see Jim Carrey in a movie.  

You know, seventh graders do not always understand how the world works. For example, Kevin thinks that once Aisha agrees to go to see a movie with him that she is his girlfriend. Having once been a teen boy myself, I understand the desire to have a girlfriend and making assumptions about how relationships work. Didn't work for me - doesn't work for Kevin.

Kevin is also worried about perception. When his Uncle Paul takes him to get a haircut, Kevin is pretty sure the barber is gay. He worries that his new haircut may be gay or that people saw him being touched by the guy so they might think he is gay. Maybe everyone in the whole barber shop was gay! Kevin is a ball of confusion. What he doesn't know is that his beloved uncle who he looks up to is gay. And uncle Paul is concerned about what Kevin will think when he tells him the truth.

This book is a humorous slice of Kevin's life - coping with a bully, fighting with his best friend, dealing with his sister and mother - all things made a bit more difficult due to Kevin's immature and developing view of the world. He will learn.

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Are You Experienced? by Jordan Sonnenblick

How can you understand a time that you didn't live in? You can't. You can listen to the music from that time. You can read books about it. You can hear stories from people who lived it. But I don't think you can ever know what it was really like. Too bad you can't time Rich does in this book.

Rich doesn't ask to go back in time; it just happens. He strums a chord on an old guitar and ends up at the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969. I make it sound like it just happened, but it is more mystical and sad than that. The guitar has been hidden away in a room where Rich's dad keeps all the items related to his brother Michael who died two months after Woodstock. Every year on the anniversary of Michael's death, Rich's dad locks himself in the room and listens to old music.

A simple strum of the strings and Rich finds himself in 1969 running into his Uncle Michael, Michael's girlfriend Willow and Rich's dad (age 15) on their way to the festival. Being the time that it was, no one is too surprised to see a 15 year old appear out of nowhere wearing nothing but the silver-white hair on his head (the color changed during the time travel). Rich realizes that this is a golden opportunity to not just see some of the most famous rock performances ever (he has studied Woodstock extensively) but also get to know his uncle (who died long before he was born) and to hang out with his dad (who is a strict, melancholy adult).

It is with eyes wide open that Rich learns much about why his dad behaves the way he does (he is very strict) and what really happened to his uncle. Rich's dad has never talked about his brother or anything surrounding his death. In fact, he blames Woodstock for causing Michael's death. It all starts to make sense. Rich has purpose for being there. He is a messenger of sorts.

I really felt like I was being taken to Woodstock to experience it with Rich. We hear the music right along with him and get to see performances through his descriptions. And Jimi Hendrix plays an important part in the story, too.

I really identified with parts of this story. Rich had an uncle he never knew because he died before Rich was born. That is true for me, too. His uncle died two months after Woodstock. My uncle died the week of Woodstock (he was killed in Vietnam). It is a small thing, but I felt more connected to the story.

As with any Jordan Sonnenblick book, I recommend this one. It is a trip back to the late 1960s and gives examples of some of the best parts of the time and some of the worst.

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

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Winger by Andrew Smith

Ryan Dean West does not always make the best decisions. If he did, he would not have ended up in Opportunity Hall ("the dorm where they stuck the really bad kids"). He hacked a cell phone account...a teacher's account...on a stolen phone. Now he must room with a thug named Chas and live with 10 other rule breakers at Pine Mountain. Also, Ryan Dean is a 14 year old junior making him two years younger than everyone else in his class.

Ryan Dean has somethings going for him. He is on the rugby team with his two friends (and former room mates). He lives for rugby and is good at it. He is totally in love with his best friend, Annie, although she considers him just a little boy.

So Ryan Dean makes his life more difficult by...always pointing out how hot girls are (and women, too). Of course, this is what some guys do, but if he ever wants to convince Annie to be his girlfriend he should be more tactful.

What else..Ryan Dean taunts guys much bigger and meaner and angrier than he is. He pushes the limit even as his friend and teammate, Joey, constantly tells him to do better.

Hanging out in Ryan Dean's world makes for quite an adventure. Even though he can be jerk, he is likable and often means well. He just hasn't found his way, but he tries.

For more info, check out the Evergreen Library catalog.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The 100 by Kass Morgan

This is my 100th blog. It is just coincidence (I swear) that it is about a book called The 100. The story is another dystopian adventure: earth has gone to hell, young people in danger - you know, the usual.

Many years past the time of a nuclear holocaust that destroyed life on earth as we know it, a group of survivors orbit the planet in spaceships waiting for the day they can return.

We follow the story through four characters. Clarke is the daughter of scientists who were studying when radiation levels would be low enough to go to earth. She was studying to be a doctor when her training was interrupted (dare I even tell you she was jailed for treason). Wells is the son of the Chancellor, the one who has decided the fates of so many. He will do whatever it takes to be with Clarke. Bellamy just wants to protect his sister (that his mother had illegally because only one child per couple is allowed). Glass wants to be back with her boyfriend who lives in a lesser part of the ship. Yes, even the few surviving humans have a society divided by class.

So, the 100 are people who have been confined for breaking the rules and are being sent down to earth to see if it is safe (unbeknownst to the others on the ship). They only have to survive or die for the answer to be known. They are considered expendable, but considering how strict the confinement laws are there are many who are far from criminals (as we learn through flash backs).

This is a fun, quick read. As I neared the end of the book, I figured that everything would not be wrapped by the end. No shock then, that this is a series (and it is or will be a show on the CW). I was not really planning to read any more in the series - until I got to the end of this one. There is much left up in the air.

For more info about this book, check out the Evergreen library catalog.