Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cybils Mini-Reviews, or, We've Got Issues!

We're turtles. We don't have a lot of angst. Give us a sun light with some good UVB, feed us every other day, and we're pretty much set. Sure, Freaky, as the oldest, can be a bit bossy, and Squirt gets a little hyper, but that's about it.

Humans, on the other hand - whew! Teenagers, especially, seem to go through an awful lot in a few short years. Thank goodness, then, that there are some great books out there to help them get some perspective in the tough times! A huge number of the YA Fiction nominees for this year's Cybils are "issue books", and these are just a few of those we have read lately:

by Courtney Summers
St. Martin's Press
Borrowed from Library
Miss Ami used to teach middle school, which she says is why you cannot shock her, scare her, or gross her out. She also says that she learned to take a boy fight over a girl fight any day. Girls are MEAN! The news has been full of stories about vicious bullying among teens. Nobody really likes a bully, so what happens when the tables are turned, and the bully becomes the victim? Serves her right, doesn't it? Doesn't it??

This was a fantastic book, so smoothly written and intense we read it in one sitting. Unfortunately, the situations, as well as the responses of both adults and other teens, were also very true to life. This would be a great classroom discussion book - be aware of violence (duh, it's about bullying) including sexual assault. We had a teeny issue with the ending, but it's not worth the potential spoiler to go into it. We still give it a

5 out of 5.

by Donna Freitas
Frances Foster Books
Borrowed from Library
Abusive relationships are not a new issue for children's/young adult books, but we are not aware of many that touch on controlling relationships. Until we read this one, we didn't realize what a gap there was in literature, but it's definitely a pervasive problem in real life. Many abusive relationships start off with isolation, but even if the abuser never continues on to physical or sexual abuse, the mental/emotional damage can be just as great. This book gives an excellent (and riveting) illustration of how an intelligent young woman can be manipulated by a man in power.

The cover photograph was an excellent choice, but we wish the title wasn't splashed across it - it makes her seem more protected than trapped. Just a little thing, and we give this one another

5 out of 5.

by Elizabeth Scott
Simon Pulse

Borrowed from Library
This one didn't seem to realize it was an issue book. If you read the jacket flap, it's your basic love triangle - the MC is in love with her best friend's boyfriend. We expect a little more depth from Elizabeth Scott - seriously? An entire book about liking your best friend's boyfriend? Then we start getting to know Brianna, the best friend.

Let's see: 1. Sees everyone as all good or all bad. 2. Must have everyone's approval. 3. Great at making friends, not so good at keeping them, except for one person she is overly dependent on. 4. Reckless, impulsive behavior. 5. Skewed vision of self. Aha! Scott is going to talk about borderline personality disorder, an increasingly common problem that many people aren't aware of. Wonderful!

Um...no. It's just the love triangle thing. Brianna very obviously needs some help, but she not only doesn't get it, it is obvious she never will. And that doesn't seem to be an issue, either. Very disappointing conclusion, but may be useful in certain situations for discussion or what-could-he/she-have-done. We have to give it a

2 out of 5.

(But we still love Elizabeth Scott. Everybody is entitled to a miss.)

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