Books & More from the Teen Scene

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

“Shine” by Lauren Myracle January 28, 2012

Filed under: Fiction,GLBTQ,Mystery,Realistic,Young Adult — hilariouslibrarian @ 8:45 am
Tags: , , , , ,
Shine cover

Images courtesy of

The Facts: Published May 2011, 349 pages.

The Basics:

Cat and Patrick used to be best friends, but Cat drifted away three years ago after enduring something terrible. Now, something terrible has happened to Patrick. He is on the brink of death after a gay-bashing incident that has rocked their small, poverty-stricken community. Cat breaks her silence and vows to avenge him.


Seventeen-year-old Patrick Truman was found early Sunday morning, bloodied, beaten and bound to a fuel dispenser at the gas station where he worked. “The gasoline nozzle protruded from his mouth, held in place with duct tape. Across the teen’s bare chest, scrawled in blood, were the words, ‘Suck this, faggot.'”

Patrick’s former best friend, Cat, is shocked out of the silence she has drifted into over the last three years. Overwhelmed by anger and knowing the the local sheriff would not have the skill or or the will to solve the crime, she digs into the dirty secrets of their backwoods community.

Random thoughts:

I became interested in this book after a heartbreaking incident in which the title of a National Book Award Nominee was misheard. Lauren Myracle was notified she was on the shortlist for the prestigious award, then told it was a misunderstanding, then told she’d be shortlisted anyway along with the book they originally meant, then (with some pressure from the National Book Award people), withdrew her book from consideration. I give her big points for being pretty darn gracious about a crummy situation and for writing a beautiful, memorable book.


“Blink & Caution” by Tim Wynne-Jones December 21, 2011

Filed under: Fiction,Realistic,Street Lit,Thriller — hilariouslibrarian @ 12:05 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Wynne-Jones, Tim. Blink and Caution. Somerville, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2011. 324 pages. ISBN: 9780763639839.

Blink & Caution cover

Images courtesy of

The Basics:

Blink is a Toronto street kid stealing breakfasts at fancy hotels when he witnesses the alleged kidnapping of a mining company CEO. After he steals a discarded Blackberry and money from the man’s hotel room, Blink gets sucked into the increasingly strange crime. Caution is a street kid trying to get away from her crazy junkie boyfriend, but the path she takes forces her to face the reasons she ran from home in the first place. They are about to meet and the results will be explosive.


Blink, you are running scared and don’t know why you do half of what you do. You keep calling that man’s daughter and you’re just getting yourself mixed up in some crazy kidnapping or whatever that doesn’t have anything to do with you. But who cares, right? There’s no one who care for you or cares about you, so you can just do whatever, right?

Caution named herself – as in Slippery When Wet, as in Harmful if Swallowed, as in Watch Your Step, as in Toxic. She has decided she will walk out on Merlin the magician, even though she knows he will come after her and might even kill her. And maybe that’s all she deserves.

When Blink meets Caution, they’re both in over their heads. If they team up, will they pull each other back from the brink? Or pull each other down until they both drown?

Random Thought:

These characters are so compelling, so well-drawn that they’ll crawl into your head and live there long after you reach the final page.

Awards and Honors (Source:

  • Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for 2011
  • Junior Library Guild Selection for Spring 2011

“A Step from Heaven” by An Na November 14, 2011

Na, An. A Step from Heaven.Asheville, N.C.: Front Street., 2001. 156 pp. ISBN: 1886910588

A Step from Heaven cover

Images courtesy of


Young Ju does not really understand where she is going when her parents decide to emigrate from Korea to America when she is four. As life in America unfolds and proves deeply disappointing, it is clear that her parents also did not fully understand this decision or the depths of anger and despair it would cause in their family.


Imagine being four years old and leaving the world as you know it.

Were any of you born in another country? Do you speak one language at home and another at school?

Have you known anyone who doesn’t speak English well? What have you tried in order to communicate with them?

An Na’s book “A Step from Heaven” tells a story of one family who leaves Korea, full of hopes and dreams about a better life in America. Instead, it is very frustrating because they don’t always understand what is being said and what is expected. Young Ju goes to school and finds so many things confusing. Her parents work hard – taking two jobs each, but they are always poor and there is a lot of anger in the house.

The difficulties mount as Young Ju’s father begins drinking heavily and lashes out physically at his family. On the very worst night, Young Ju finally calls 9-1-1.

“Please,” I whisper and take a gulp of air. “Send help.”

“Tell me what is going on, miss.”

“My father is killing my mother.”

It is then she understands truly how far they have come from home – much farther than “A Step from Heaven.”

Awards/Honors (source:

  • 2001 National Book Award Finalist
  • 2002 Children’s Book Award in YA Fiction – International Reading Association
  • 2005 CaliforniaCollections Selection
  • 2005 Asian American Booklist, Grades 9 and Up, Read AcrossAmerica, National Education Association
  • 2001 – 2003 Asian Pacific American Award for Literature, Text in Children and Young Adult Fiction – Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association
  • 2004 Reading List – Women’s Division Reading Program Committee, General Board of Global Ministries, The United Methodist Church
  • 2003 – 2004 Gateway Readers Award Nominee,MissouriAssociation of School Libraries
  • 2003 – 2004 William Allen White Children’s Book Award master list
  • 2002 Notable Books for a Global Society – International Reading Association
  • 2002 Notable Children’s Book – American Library Association
  • 2002 Best Book for Young Adults – American Library Association
  • 2002 Children’s Books of Distinction Award – Riverbank Review
  • 2002 Fanfare Book – The Horn Book Honor List
  • 2002 Bay Area Book Reviewers Association Award
  • 2002 CCBC Choices
  • 2002 Children’s Literature Choice List
  • 2002 Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Master List
  • 2002 Amelia Bloomer Project List
  • 2002 White Ravens – International Youth Library ofMunich
  • 2002 Notable Books for the Language Arts – NCTE
  • 2002 Notable Books for a Global Society, Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest group of the IRA
  • 2001 Editor’s Choice – Booklist
  • 2001 New York Times Book Review Notable Book
  • 2001 Best Books – School Library Journal
  • 2001 Kiriyama Prize Notable Book Shortlist
  • 2001 Best Children’s Books – Publishers Weekly
  • 2001 Best Book –
  • 2001 Book Links Lasting Connections
  • 2001 Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children
  • 2001 Top 10 Youth First Novels – Booklist