Saturday, February 24, 2018

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Eliza has created a monster - actually several of them. She is the writer/artist of a hugely popular online fantasy graphic novel called Monstrous Sea. But only a small group of people know she is the creator.

Eliza's two younger brothers know, but (annoying as they are to her) don't tell anyone. Her parents think Monstrous Sea is just a hobby, and have no idea how popular it is or that Eliza makes tons of money from it. Eliza has two online friends (who she has never actually met) who moderate her message boards, run the online store, etc. That's all the people who know.

Having no interest in physical activities like sports (much to her parents' frustration) or friends from school (her parents aren't too happy about that either), Eliza devotes most of her time to Monstrous Sea. She knows there are many fans even in her school, but she keeps to herself so she never interacts with them. That ends the day she steps in to help a new student, Wallace.

Wallace is the size of a football player and never says anything. It is only through passing notes that Eliza finds out that he writes Monstrous Sea fan fiction. His friends are huge fans, too. But Eliza can't reveal who she is to them. She wants to tell Wallace but how will he react?

The secrets, the expectations of fans, her parent's lack of understanding all put much pressure on Eliza. She truly has created a monster that could consume her if she lets it.

It is a interesting story about dealing with online fame and privacy. Who does an artist create for - herself or the public? Explore this question with Eliza as she deals with the regular stress of being a teenager - it's worth it.

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

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

This is sadly a book for our time. A young African American man is shot and killed by a white police officer. The man did nothing to provoke the shooting. Protests and riots follow. The police officer is held up to the community as a fine man with a family, while the victim is called a thug and drug dealer.

We see this all through Starr's eyes. She is with Khalil when he is shot. They were close as children and ended up leaving a party together when the police officer pulled up to their car.

Starr walks in two worlds: her home life in Garden Heights and her school life at a nearly all white private school she attends. She and her brother were sent there to get them away from the dangers and temptations of the neighborhood. Starr's dad used to be a gang member. He worked hard to get out and doesn't want his children getting involved.

What is so compelling about this story is it gives a view of the victim's life. Without getting too involved in the unfortunate politics of real life shootings, it seems the victims rarely get their perspective fully explained. Starr is the witness: to the shooting, to Khalil's life, to the subsequent reaction of her white classmates, to the neighborhood gang members, to the police. She is our eyes.

This a powerful story that should cause all who read it think about where we are as a society and how we treat each other.

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