Books & More from the Teen Scene

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

“Small Medium at Large” by Joanne Levy January 27, 2014

Filed under: Books,Fiction,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 11:38 am
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Small Medium at Large cover

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The Facts

195 pages; published July 2012

The Basics

After being hit by lightning at her mother’s wedding, Lilah wakes to discover she can hear ghosts. She finds herself surrounded by a well-meaning bunch of spirits, led by her practical, funny grandmother who is four years gone. Bubby Dora has a proposal for Lilah. She wants the two of them to team up to get Lilah’s love-lorn divorced father back in the dating game.


Lilah was having a pretty good day, really enjoying her mother’s wedding – until a freak storm rolled in and hit her with a bolt of lightning. Lilah wakes in a hospital to discover she’s basically fine – as long as “fine” includes being able to talk to ghosts. At first, it’s just her sweet, straight-talking grandmother Bubby Dora, but soon other ghosts line up looking for Lilah’s help in delivering messages. And all the while, Lilah is conspiring with her Bubby to encourage Lilah’s father to take his first, shaky steps back into the world of of dating.

Random Thoughts

  • What a thoroughly sweet book. Ghosts aside, it is a funny, well-drawn look at the life of a girl in the throes of growing up.
  • While not exactly a laugh-out-loud book, this is certainly a many-amused-smiles book.

I’ll Recommend This To …

  • Middle grade girls who like a bit of magic blended with their reality
  • Families looking for squeaky clean, age-appropriate books for middle schoolers
  • Readers who want something short and sweet
  • Those who believe in friendly ghosts

“Out of the Easy” by Ruta Sepetys January 22, 2014

Filed under: Books,Fiction,Historical Fiction,Mystery — hilariouslibrarian @ 8:54 am
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Out of the Easy cover

Images courtesy of

The Facts

346 pages; published February 2013

The Basics

Josie Moraine is a survivor. Raised in New Orelans and the daughter of a prostitute, Josie has mapped a plan of escape to a different life when she is pulled into the aftermath of the murder of a charming gentleman visitor to the French Quarter.

The Booktalk

Smart, determined, highly ethical, and strangely innocent might not be what you’d expect from the daughter of a prostitute who grew up in the French Quarter of New Orleans – but it’s what you get from Ruta Sepetys’ “Out of the Easy.” Josie Moraine, having been failed in every possible way by her stupid harlot of a mother, has been raised by a harsh, but caring madam, a kindly taxi driver, and an eccentric bookstore owner. She has become a bright, resilient young woman determined to find her way out of the Big Easy and into a better life. But little tendrils of French Quarter scandal keep twisting around her and pulling her down – the murder of a visiting Southern gentleman, the seediness of the brothel, her mother’s gangster boyfriend, and the mysterious illness of her bookstore owning patron. The excitement begins on the first page and never lets up as Josie navigates an emotional roller coaster and tries to find her way “Out of the Easy.”

Random Thoughts

  • Given the French Quarter and brothel as primary settings, this is a surprisingly clean book.
  • There should be some kind of award for Truly Appalling Fictional Parents and Ruta Sepetys should win it this year for writing Josie’s awful, pathetic, shallow, mean, stupid harlot of a mother.

I’ll recommend this book to …

  • Readers looking for some slightly titillating excitement
  • Fans of mysteries
  • Anyone who likes a hard luck or horrible parents story