Thursday, July 27, 2017

Book Review: We Are Okay by Nina Lacour

"You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…

Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother."

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. 

Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

I'll be honest. I went into this book with pretty low expectations. It looked sad. It looked like just another LGBT book, and there are so many out right now that are preachy and trying to prove something.  You don't need to prove anything to me. I think love is love, and you should be with those that you love and who love you. So don't keep pushing anger because it'll rub me the wrong way.

That being said, this book was the opposite of what I expected. Yes, it was sad. Yes, it was LGBT. But it wasn't sad - it was heartbreaking. It was experiencing grief with real feelings and emotions. But it was also uplifting. Marin has been running away from her fears and her grief. She built a wall of sand and snow and ice and boarded herself away from everything she left behind. And with Mabel there she is finally able to let herself feel everything that happened to her and face her new reality.

And yes, it was LGBT, but it wasn't in your face. They weren't preaching. They simply stated that they loved each other. It wasn't particularly taboo or forbidden (though they kept a secret from most people), but they were best friends who felt they were in love, and though that's over now they still love each other. 

The entire story was beautifully written, real, surprising, lyrical, and warm - A story of grief and love interwoven through a snowstorm. One of the only books I've read so far this year that deserves 5 stars. Bravo :)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Book Review: American Street by Ibi Zoboi

The rock in the water does not know the pain of the rock in the sun.

On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—a good life.

But after they leave Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud American cousins, Chantal, Donna, and Princess; the grittiness of Detroit’s west side; a new school; and a surprising romance, all on her own.

Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola soon realizes that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?

When Fabiola's mother is detained by immigration when they leave Haiti to visit family in the United States, Fabiola is forced to navigate Detroit with only her aunt and her gruff cousins to guide her. Her aunt has recently had a stroke, and her cousins are tough , gruff Detroit natives, known to everyone as the Three Bees (brains, beauty & brawn).

There are hints of magical realism as Fabiola tries to hold on to her Haitian roots, continuing to pray to the Vodou spirits to help her and seeing them in the people she meets - the homeless man across the street who sings through the night, the hairdresser that gives her an American makeover, the detective who asks her to spy on her family and friends in order to save her mother, and the cute boy who calls her Fabulous.

This gritty story is definitely recommend for older teens or adults looking for a gripping diverse and emotional story about family, love, and the true meaning of "home."

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Book Review: Bang by Barry Lyga

One shot ruined his life. Another one could end it.

Sebastian Cody did something horrible, something no one—not even Sebastian himself—can forgive. At the age of four, he accidentally shot and killed his infant sister with his father’s gun.

Now, ten years later, Sebastian has lived with the guilt and horror for his entire life. With his best friend away for the summer, Sebastian has only a new friend—Aneesa—to distract him from his darkest thoughts. But even this relationship cannot blunt the pain of his past. Because Sebastian knows exactly how to rectify his childhood crime and sanctify his past.

It took a gun to get him into this.

Now he needs a gun to get out.

At the age of four, Sebastian accidentally shot and killed his infant sister. Now fourteen, he still hasn't forgiven himself and contemplates suicide every night. When his best friend leaves for the summer, he figures it's finally the right time. 

That is until he meets Aneesa, a new girl in town, who, unlike everyone else, doesn't know about Sebastian's past. She convinces him to use his creative pizza talents to create YouTube channel and livens up his life for a while, distracting him from his guilt and loneliness, though it's still always hidden beneath the surface.

 Lyga's writing is honest and introspective, showing a perspective of tragedy that we rarely witness. This is a heartbreaking, but also heartwarming story that will remain with you for weeks after reading it.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Middle Grade BTween Books

At the library we’re always trying to find the best ways to serve the community. Sometimes this happens by adding new services, adding collections, or just rearranging furniture or materials. In the past couple months, we've found more and more older children or their parents crossing over from the children's department and coming in to the Teen Room. They're looking for books that are appropriate reads for those more precocious fourth, fifth, and sixth graders who need new, more challenging reading material, but aren't quite ready for some of the more mature titles that make up the majority of the Teen Fiction collection. 

So after a little experimentation, we sorted and shifted the books to create a new section of middle grade books. These are books that we consider PG - with minimal language or suggestive content. We're calling the collection BTween Fiction (Tween was a little too close to Teen for the spine lables) - stories for those not quite kids, not quite teens, but right in BTween! 

Check out a few of the titles in our new BTween collection!

1. Merlin – T.A. Baron 

2. Heartbeat – Sharon Creech

3. The Sky Inside – Clare B. Dunkle

4. Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones

5. Sylo – D.J. MacHale

6. Airborn – Kenneth Oppel

7. The Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan

8. Okay for Now – Gary Schmidt

9. Falling over Sideways – Jordan Sonnenblick

10. Flipped – Wendelin Van Draanen

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