Books & More from the Teen Scene

Book reviews and other reflections from one of Oregon's young adult librarians

“Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock” by Matthew Quick October 31, 2013

Filed under: Books,Fiction,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 11:27 am
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Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

273 pages; published August 2013

The Basics

Leonard Peacock gets up on his 18th birthday. He fills his backpack. He is ready to go. He will visit the four people who mean anything to him. He will give each of them a gift. Then, he will pull out the gun at the bottom of the pack and kill his former best friend. Then, he will kill himself. And, he thinks, this is a fitting celebration – going out 18 years after the day he came into this world.

Booktalk

Leonard Peacock is having a birthday. But this is no ordinary celebration. Leonard has carefully wrapped four gifts – one for each of the people who are important to him. After he sees these four people and gives these four gifts, he will do the thing he most deeply want to do: he will shoot and kill Asher Beal. Then Leonard will shoot and kill himself.

Leonard wonders if this will make him famous for a while. He wonders how people will remember his final visits and conversations. He wonders if people will be frankly relieved to learn he is dead.

He thinks about his 18 years of life and the events that have led him to this. His story, riddled with elaborate footnotes and flashes of memory, reveal this: Leonard Peacock is smart. He is weird. He is depressed. And he is determined to die.

Random Thoughts

  • This is the same Matthew Quick that wrote Silver Linings Playbook. What an amazing storyteller.
  • I found myself deeply anxious as I consider all the children I see each day and what I don’t know about them.

I’ll Recommend This To …

  • Fans of Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why
  • Young people ready to think in complex ways about serious topics
  • Adults who work with teens
  • People prepared to spend the last 50 pages of a book crying quietly but steadily
 

The Quote that Keeps Coming Back to Me and Making My Eyes Sting … from “Coaltown Jesus” by Ron Koertge October 24, 2013

Filed under: Books,Fiction,Quotes,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 10:53 am
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Coaltown Jesus quote

 

“Coaltown Jesus” by Ron Koertge

Filed under: Books,Christian,Fiction,Poetry,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 10:30 am
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Coaltown Jesus cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

128 pages; published October 2013

The Basics

Simply told in spare verse, this is the chuckle-worthy story of a boy who spends a few days with a wryly witty Jesus (who would have arrived sooner if not for some bad traffic on the I-55) after Walker prays for help for his grieving mother.

Review

Having howled my way through the darkly hilarious Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses, I simply had to invited Coaltown Jesus to come home with me. Because it is both a slim book and written in verse, it takes barely any time to read. Processing it fully, however, takes more time.

Walker is completely torn up inside after the untimely death of his beloved, but troubled brother. Living above the private nursing home owned by their mother, Walker wonders, “Didn’t God look downstairs? It’s a nursing home. Half my mom’s clients are ready to check out. But he picks a kid.” With his own grief pressing in, Walker prays that God will fix his mother, who is shattered by the loss.

Enter Jesus, a fast-talking, smart-mouth who shows up late and needing to check his email – “robe, sandals, beard – just like my action figure.” He doesn’t like being called The Anointed One (“Makes me feel greasy”) and admits that camels may have been a mistake born of a long day of creation (“You try creating a whole world without even a snack”). Who knew Jesus was such a card?

Between quips, however, Jesus finds his own way to attend to the business of healing and may indeed be the answer to Walker’s prayers.

Random Thoughts

I couldn’t decide if this book was irreverent or very reverent indeed. Because why couldn’t the King of kings have a sense of humor? In fact, don’t we have a lot of evidence that He must?

I’ll Recommend This To …

  • People who enjoy the unexpected
  • Anyone with a quirky sense of humor
  • Families who are grieving
  • Students who need to read a book – quick!
 

“All the Truth That’s In Me” by Julie Berry October 22, 2013

All the Truth That's in Me cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

274 pages; published September 2013

The Basics

A tiny town has been shattered by the murder of one of its girls and the kidnapping and mutilation of another. Judith is the one who returns, but finds no place in her family or the town horrified and confused by the discovery that her tongue has been cut out. Unable to speak the truth, she watches and contemplates.

The Booktalk

One small Puritan town. Two girls disappear in the same week. One is found floating, naked in the river. The other returns after two unsettling years. Her tongue is cut out. She is wrapped in silence and secrets.

Reviled by the community as “damaged,” now-mute Judith drifts ghostlike along the edges of her society, watching and listening. Most closely, she watched Lucas, a boy she has loved since childhood. He is the only source of kindness she still has.

When the tiny village comes under attack, but Lucas and Judith respond in the only ways they can think of – saving the village but shattering the uneasy balance of their lives. Loyalties shift. ¬†Questions are asked. But no one is ready for what happens when Judith reveals All the Truth That’s In Me.

Random Thoughts

  • The dreamy style of this book is captivating. The story burbles out in small snippets, organized into chapterlets as small as a single line, and flows like water through a rocky creekbed until it trickles down to the riveting conclusion.
  • Although set in Puritan America, the book has some unmistakably contemporary sensibilities. Still, the setting somehow works in the end and the book becomes a memorable ride through the scandalous side of Puritanical life.

I’ll Recommend This To …

  • Readers asking for creepy mystery stories
  • Girls who like love stories
  • People interested in unique writing styles
 

“The Name of the Star” by Maureen Johnson October 9, 2013

The Name of the Star cover

Images courtesy of GoodReads.com

The Facts

372 pages; published September 2011

The Basics

On the very day that Rory Deveaux moves from Louisiana to London, someone starts recreating the Jack the Ripper murders. As Rippermania grips the city, Rory gets drawn into the center of the increasingly strange mystery.

Booktalk

Louisiana native Rory Deveaux is a fish out of water when she shows up to the London boarding school where she will be spending her final years of high school. It’s hard to say which is funnier – her wacky stories about the bayou town and redneck neighbors she left behind, or her hilarious observations about the strange life of English schoolchildren.

But Rory’s new life also has a dark side. On the same day she landed in London, a killer began recreating the Jack the Ripper murders in gruesome detail. Then Rory comes face to face with a mysterious stranger on a dark London night – a stranger no one else can see. As news spreads of her odd encounter, she finds herself pulled ever deeper into the baffling and vastly creepy mystery.

But Wait, There’s More!

This is just #1 in the Shades of London series. #2 in the series – The Madness Underneath (February 2013) is also very satisfying; #3 – The Shadow Cabinet – is due out in 2014.

I’ll Recommend This To …

  • Mystery lovers
  • Fans of ghost stories
  • Anyone with a sense of humor
  • Readers fascinated by famous serial killers like Jack the Ripper
  • Honestly, anyone who asks for a good book. I loved it that much!