Tag Archives: family

Book Review: The Exact Location of Home

7 Jun

33590854.jpgKate Messner is a prolific writer of children’s books – picture books, early chapter books and middle grade novels and she fits into each of these areas with ease. Today, I want to focus on her newest middle grade novel, The Exact Location of Home a companion story to The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. I am amazed by authors who are so adept at middle grade fiction that they can take a very difficult, real topic and address it at an appropriate level for this age group while still showing empathy and hope at the end.  And that is exactly what Kate Messner does in this story. Zig’s mom is picking up extra shifts at the diner while going to school to become a nurse, but it’s just not enough – they are evicted from their apartment and find themselves homeless and living at the local shelter until they can save a little bit up to put a deposit down for a new apartment.

Zig’s at a loss – from his black and white world of simple circuits, electricity and science he is thrown into a world where little makes sense and he’s not sure he wants to share this new world with his friends making him feel even more alone. That is, until he starts geocaching with a GPS unit he found at a yard sale. Zig’s convinced his father is a geocacher leaving clues around town for Zig to find – he hasn’t seen him in over a year and truly believes that he’ll get to see him soon.

Zig’s family story is one that isn’t as uncommon as people assume it to be. A hard-working mom, trying to make ends meet and earn an education just doesn’t make enough to pay the rent and the bills. My heart absolutely broke for Zig as he traverses life without a constant – not a pencil sharpener to get his homework done, a quiet place to think, a private place to put his things or even enough to eat some days. If you enjoyed Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate, you’ll surely fall in love with Zig and be rooting for him the whole time. I think this would make a great book discussion with middle grade students about understanding that you really have no idea what is going on in someone else’s life even if everything looks okay from the outside.

Twitter Booktalk (140 characters or less): In The Exact Location of Home, Zig’s searching hard to find his own meaning of home in a quest for hope in a hopeless place @KateMessner

Title: The Exact Location of Home
Author: Kate Messner
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Page Number: 256 pgs.

Book Review: Just Fly Away

31 May

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Fifteen-year-old Lucy learns a family secret that not only devastates her, but separates her from her friends, family and even her boyfriend. Her father has an eight-year-son from a brief affair that he’s kept hidden from Lucy and her sister and although her sister seems unfazed, Lucy feel as though a rug has been pulled out from under her and no matter how hard she tries, she can’t seem to get her feet under her.

Soon it’s too much for Lucy and without truly realizing it, she escapes from the world she thought she knew so well to Maine, to spend some time with her estranged grandfather. It is there where Lucy begins learning more about her family as she spends time getting to know her grandfather.

This is a coming-of-age story with the voice of a teenage girl desperately trying to figure out her world and where she fits in it. I felt at some places that the author tried to fit in a little too much – parent betrayal – check, brother she never knew she had – check, new friends after old friends diss her – check, new mysterious boyfriend – check, extended family drama – check. I felt as through there was a little more focus the characters and plot could have developed more naturally that feeling like the plot points were getting checked off a list.

My favorite part of the story was when Lucy comes in contact with her grandfather (whom she has only met once). Their time together and the development of their friendship was the truest part of this novel and I believe is what kept me reading to the end. As a side note, the author – Andrew McCarthy is not usually a YA author, he’s an actor (Pretty In Pink, Weekend at Bernie’s, etc.), director and has written a memoir, but writing YA does not come easily to everyone.  I think he shows promise and would definitely pick up another title if he published anything else in this genre.

Twitter Booktalk (140 characters or less): 15yo Lucy’s world is crumbling around her, so she visits Maine and her estranged grandfather to learn more about herself and her family.

Title: Just Fly Away
Author: Andrew McCarthy
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: April 2017
Page Number: 258 pgs.

Book Review: Love, Ish

24 May

30753996Karen Rivers, author of The Girl In the Well Is Me brings to life Mischa “Ish” Love a girl who believes in her heart that she will be one of the first inhabitants of Mars. She lives and breathes outer space – what she’ll wear, what she’ll eat, what she’ll miss on Earth, what she won’t miss on Earth and all the planning she does to be ready for when the day arrives.

But as a middle school student, Ish’s plans make her out to be weird and now that her best friend Tig moved away, she’s all by herself. Ish’s first day of seventh grade doesn’t go as planned when she collapses on the playground after lunch and her diagnosis threatens the only dream she has ever had.

I liked Ish as a character because she’s a very believable middle school kid – worried about sister issues, quirky and different and believes in a future regardless of how unattainable it might be. I felt that there was a little too much happening in the background of the story that detracted a little from the focus – her best friend moved away, Ish’s parents reveal something that rocks Ish and her sister to the core and a new kid makes fun of her in the few short hours that she attends school. All of these parts put together bring something to the story, but I felt a little bogged down with all of these “problems” when there was much bigger problem with a capital “P” that Ish and her family were dealing with.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and as the back of the cover states if you’re a fan of Fish In a Tree  and The Thing About Jellyfish, you’ll definitely want to pick this one up!

Twitter Booktalk (140 characters or less): 7th grader, Ish solely wants to be an inhabitant on Mars, but a diagnosis proves Mars is much further than the 139,808,518 miles she thought

Title: Love, Ish
Author: Karen Rivers
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Publication Date: 2017
Page Number: 284 pgs.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 5/22/17

22 May

25741324.jpgThis week I was able to to finish two books and start a third, which is pretty awesome! I finished Love, Ish by Karen Rivers and Just Fly Away by Andrew McCarthy and then I also started Finding Mighty by Sheela Chari. It was a good week of reading and I know that when I read more, I just feel better, so I want to make the effort to read for at least 15 minutes a day, whether it’s in the morning or when I get into bed at night. I don’t know how to explain it, but when I’m reading regularly, I feel more centered and calm… if I haven’t read a lot I’ll start getting more easily frustrated and upset about little things. I guess reading is my equivalent to meditation. This week, I need to finish up a bunch of ARCs because BookExpo is coming soon and I’m sure I’ll be getting a lot of new books that I’ll want to read as soon I get them! Can’t wait!


imwayr

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 3/27/17

27 Mar


finally finished Carmer and Grit: The Wingsnatchers by Sarah Jean Horowitz – it took me quite a while to finish and it wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy reading it, for whatever reason it just took me some time. It’s the perfect book if you have a middle grade reader who likes fairies and magic but is also interested in adventure and science.

I also sat down over the weekend and read two other books that have been on my radar for awhile – Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate and Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan.  Home of the Brave is written in verse, making it a quick read, but a powerful one.  Kek travels from war-torn Sudan to America by himself to live with his aunt and cousin. He learns about snow, the grocery store and helps a number of friends along the way. It’s the story of growing up and holding on to hope. Amina’s Voice is a newly published novel from Salaam Reads, an imprint of Simon & Schuster that, “aims to introduce readers of all faiths and backgrounds to a wide variety of Muslim children and families, and offer Muslim kids an opportunity to see themselves reflected positively in published works.” And what I like most about this story, is that it truly is a diverse story, but at the same time it’s the story of a girl in middle school dealing with family, friends and school – things that absolutely everyone has to deal with. And although her family and her community come in contact with hatred that is all too familiar in this world, the basis of the story is a young girl finding her voice and that’s what makes this diverse read so perfect. Plus, I absolutely love how gorgeous the cover is!

This coming week I plan to read The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts by Avi and maybe even jump into some YA books – The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge and The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis that I thought about reading last week, but didn’t get a chance to dive into.


imwayr

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next

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