Tag Archives: family

Book Review: Disappeared

22 Sep

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I received this book as an ARC with the white cover. I didn’t read what the story was about but looking at the cover, assumed it was a dystopian science fiction book. Boy, was I wrong – it’s not dystopian or science fiction, but it was really well written. I have enjoyed other books by Francisco X. Stork and I wasn’t disappointed.

This story is set over four days as Sara and her Brother Emiliano have to make the most difficult choices there are – between saving their own lives and serving justice to those who deserve it, between friends and family and holding onto the truth when it doesn’t seem possible. Sara and Emiliano live in Juarez, Mexico, striving to make ends meet and trying to be careful as young woman all around them are disappearing. Sara, a journalist for the local paper receives a threat against herself and her family after researching the missing woman, one of whom is her best friend. Meanwhile, Emiliano is offered a job transporting drugs through some of the handicrafts he sells near the border – the money is more than they ever thought possible and would do wonders in getting him into a position where he could be with his love, Perla Rubi who comes from a well-to-do family.

When the wrong people find out where they live, it’s a split second decision that could mean separating the family, crossing the border and possibly seeking asylum in the United States, but nothing is without consequences as the decisions this sibling pair make will change their lives forever.

This story opened a world to me that I don’t experience or often see. Growing up and living in the Northeastern part of our country separates me from much of the talk of Border Patrol, undocumented immigrants, although now more than ever this is an issue that you not only need to be aware of, but also be educated about. Everyone has their own reality and by reading this book, a window was open for me to see someone else’s experience and isn’t that the point?

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Twitter Booktalk (140 characters or less): “In the next four days, Sara and Emiliano will each face impossible choices, between life and justice, friends and family, truth and love.”

Title: Disappeared
Author: Francisco X. Stork
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Publication Date: September 26, 2017
Page Number: 336 pgs.

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Book Review: Slider

7 Sep

34051894David is hungry and not just your typical teen boy hungry, he can eat a 16-inch pepperoni pizza in four minutes and thirty-six seconds. Which is fast, very fast. But, he’s got to do better to win the Super Pigorino Bowl and pay his mom back after he accidentally charges $2,000 to her credit card.

Slider is the story of a middle schooler not only trying to figure out how to raise some quick cash, but a story of figuring out where you stand in a family with a perfect older sister and a younger brother on the autism spectrum. It’s also the story of what happens when your best friends start hanging out together and you feel like a third wheel. David’s character is fully developed and I really liked how his story seamlessly moved between friends, family and his own problems. Sometimes stories focus solely on one issue leaving the character and/or setting undeveloped, but in this book even the supporting characters have rich back stories that enhance the story’s plot.

Although, competitive eating kind of grosses me out and the descriptions of how David practices to expand his stomach makes my own stomach ache just reading about it. Even though, I didn’t like reading about it, the story itself was so well done, I couldn’t put it down!

Twitter Booktalk (140 characters or less): David needs to eat as fast as he can if he expects to win the Super Pigorino Bowl and pay back his mom the $2000 he owes her.

Title: Slider
Author: Pete Hautman
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Page Number: 288 pgs.

Book Review: The Incredible Magic of Being

2 Sep

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Julian’s stressed out family affects him, but he remains ever optimistic that he’ll be able to name his very own comet and be able to live forever. He’s even more excited that the family is moving away from Washington DC’s light pollution, to Maine where his mom and Joan plan on opening a Bed & Breakfast and where Julian will be able see the stars and that potential comet even better.

But, with a teen sister who believes every decision the family makes is against her and a next door neighbor who could end the bed and breakfast dream, Julian believes he needs to show his family and neighbor the magic of the universe and all will work out.

What I loved most about this story is that Julian loves science, but also understands that there is still so much we don’t know and that there is a sort of magic that exists in tandem with science. Although Julian is anxious about a lot of things, you don’t truly understand why until you get deeper into the story and then it makes a lot more sense. His mom is stressed out, his sister is a pain and his mom’s partner is working extra hours to cover the cost of renovating the B&B, so Julian befriends the neighbor, Mr. X and through his own magic understands what Mr. X needs in his life and how it will help him move past his wife’s death. This story runs along the line of magical realism, where you’re not quite sure where the real world stops and the magic begins, and that’s my favorite type of story.

I won’t give too much away, but this is a story that would open up a lot of conversation with kids about family bonds, feelings, dealing with stress and anxiety and with a touch of fantasy that kids will just have to talk about.

Twitter Booktalk (140 characters or less): Julian’s excited to name his own comet, but a stressed out mom, overworked partner and crank.y sister just don’t understand its importance

Title: The Incredible Magic of Being
Author: Kathryn Erskine
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Page Number: 256 pgs.

Book Review: The Painting

9 Aug

33674139The Painting by Charis Cotter is a story of mystery and intrigue, but at its heart its the story of loss and relationships among family. Annie loves painting, drawing and art and is nothing at all like her parents who just can’t seem to understand their daughter. But, when Annie’s mother slips into a coma following a car accident, can Annie help save her?

Annie finds a painting of a lighthouse in the attic and with her artistic eye, is drawn to it right away, but when she falls through the painting and meets young Claire she gets more than she bargained for. Soon she is looking for other paintings by the mysterious Maisie King in order to help Claire understand her own mother, while at the same time trying to understand how Claire’s story is part of her own family’s history and what she can do to help her mother emerge from her coma.

I had a little difficulty following the storyline as each girl had a similar middle grade voice that made it difficult to differeniate, but I loved the mysterious travel through the paintings and really enjoyed how the story came together at the end as Annie learned more about her own family and the how the power of forgiveness saved her mother’s life. I don’t want to give anything away, but if you have a child in your life that likes a little suspense, mystery and is a little bit of an introvert and/or artist – this is the book for them!

Twitter Booktalk (140 characters or less): Annie’s mother never talks about her childhood & when she falls into a coma, it’s up to Annie’s mysterious travel into paintings to save her

Title: The Painting
Author: Charis Cotter
Publisher: Tundra Books
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Page Number: 288 pgs.

Book Review: Calling My Name

2 Aug

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Calling My Name by Liara Tamani is the story of Taja a young teen growing up in Houston, Texas with her family and friends. Taja knows what her parents expect of her – spend quality time with the family, get good grades, go to church every Sunday and abstinence is the only option. Taja is trying to keep up with her classmates as the talk ranges from first kisses to first relationships and beyond, while also being the daughter she is expected to be. She also has high hopes of going to college in California to follow her dream and to find her own relationship with God, separately from what her parents expect that relationship to look like.

I really liked this story, much closer to my own in many ways than much of the young adult literature being published today. I took my grades seriously, wasn’t too interested it boys, but struggled in some ways to figure out where my relationship with God fit into my world as a teenager living in today’s society. This is not the type of story you see written very often and I felt that Taja’s voice rang true to a young teen searching for herself in the midst of family and friends.

The writing was a bit confusing and it’s easier to think of the chapters as short stories spanning Taja’s teen years rather than a specific day-to-day account. But I felt that this was a voice that many teens will be able to relate with and understand. Taja struggles with her family’s conservative view on abstinence while also realizing that her brother always has more freedom than she does and dealing with peers who bully/body shame her at times. It’s a very real story that needed to be told and I truly enjoyed it. I’ll say this – it is a young adult story in that although Taja begins as a middle school student in the beginning, there are intimate scenes as she grows up that will firmly plant this book in the young adult department. Give this to teens searching for themselves – especially those who are spiritual/religious as they navigate high school.

Twitter Booktalk (140 characters or less): High schooler, Taja Brown is searching for her own relationship with God as she navigates family, friends, romance and dreams.

Title: Calling My Name
Author: Liara Tamani
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: October 24, 2017
Page Number: 384 pgs.

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