Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen

Petula fears the world - at least the things that could harm her. She is very careful, like how she will not walk next to a construction site. It's too risky. She keeps a scrapbook of unusual ways people have died. You can never be too careful. Petula knows this because her baby sister Maxine died, and she feels responsible.

To deal with the loss, Petula is forced to be in an art therapy group at school, and it is horrible. First, the therapist treats them like preschoolers. Second, she does not belong in a group with Ivan who is prone to outbursts, Koula who is a druggie and an alcoholic, Alonzo who tried to commit suicide and Jacob who is missing an arm and obsessed with movies .

OK, so Petula stopped crafting which she loved and did all the time. And she stopped talking to her best friend and crafting buddy, Miranda. It's not like she is the only one not dealing well with Maxine's death. Her mom keeps adopting kittens (much to her dad's dismay).

When Jacob (who isn't so bad after all) suggests the group make videos, Petula is reluctant. How could a video possible help her when she doesn't have a problem? Petula just needs to open herself up to the others and Jacob in particular.

Petula's journey of loss, discovery, self-examination and perhaps love are worth the reader's time.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog.


Friday, August 18, 2017

Waste of Space by Gina Damico

Just when you thought you'd see it all from reality TV, DV8 brings you the most extreme show yet. Eight teens will be launched into space and must survive the dangers of space flight as well as being confined with each other for weeks.

OR maybe the teens don't go into space at all, but they and the rest of the world do not know that. It is all the brainchild of DV8's CEO (and obnoxiously overconfident) Chazz Young. He's the genius(?) who brought the world a string of reality show hits, and this is the biggest one yet.

Selecting (and perhaps kidnapping) the perfect mix of teen stereotypes from across the country and contracting NASAW scientists to build the 'spaceship', Chazz is set to grab the viewing public's attention. And, boy, does it work. Waste of Space becomes the show everyone is talking about (and texting and blogging, etc.).

This story is presented as an informal report by an anonymous intern who wants the world to know what really happened behind the scenes. We see the show transcripts as well as what was edited out. We have Chazz's phone calls (that he records, ironically, to protect himself).

We get to know the teens at their best and their worst and not just the edited versions DV8 wants the world to see: Barcardi, the party girl; Snout, the hick (and his pet pig); Kaoru, the foreigner who only speaks Japanese; Jarmakus, the black gay astronaut wannabe; Louise, the nerd; Nico, the orphan; Hibiscus, the musician; Matt, the disabled hero; Titania, the tomboy; and Clayton the rich kid who happens to be related to Chazz. Like I said, stereotypes  but ultimately each had more going on in their lives before this show.

This story is a funny, over-the-top adventure.

For more info, check out the author's site.


Monday, August 14, 2017

A Lie for a Lie by Robin Merrow MacCready

As a child, Kendra had a traumatic experience on a boat with her mom, dad and family friends. She likes going to the beach, but to this day she has anxiety when the high tide approaches. Her dad has always been the one to calmer her when the anxiety arises. Attending a music festival with her friend Jenn, Kendra sees her father with a woman who is not her mother. The shock is almost too much.

Kendra and Jenn have decided this is going to be a breakout summer. Jenn is going after the guy she liked, and Kendra will try to break from her routine whenever she feels anxious. Kendra's summer becomes two pursuits: Will, the guy she turned down causing him to turn to his current girlfriend Nicole, and her father to find out who the other women might be.

Kendra stakes out her the apartment of the other woman and sees a young child. Does her father have another family? Jenn worries Kendra is becoming obsessed and reckless in pursuing her father. Kendra's friend, Bo, is the only one who is supportive.

As her interactions with Will become more serious, it's not clear if Kendra is more like her father than she is willing to admit. Whatever happens, it is not the summer Kendra had planned.

For more info, check out the author's site.