Real Friends

RealFriends

Real Friends (paperback)

by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

AR Level (no quiz yet)

 

Real Friends made my heart hurt.  It hit way, way, way too close to home for me.  Not the home I live in today, but the one from when I was in elementary school.  This is the story of Shannon, a girl with a vivid imagination who enjoyed writing.  She wasn’t perfect, and didn’t always do everything right in her friendships nor with her siblings, but she was gravely mistreated by the girls in the popular group and misunderstood/ignored by her mother.  Shannon had to find out the hard way that being in the popular group isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be, especially with mean girls who often dress better and compete for attention.  Shannon finally realizes who she is and she stands up for herself, but not before suffering a lot of hurt feelings and anxiety, basically ruining her elementary school experience.

What I liked about this book is that students can either relate to Shannon’s experience (like myself), or they can see how damaging being in the popular group can be for someone on the outskirts.  It was really hard to read this, because it was such an emotional story.  I think it is really important for girls to read this book, because it seems like someone is either out with the in crowd, or the in crowd itself.

What I didn’t like about this book was that it did hurt to read it.  I didn’t want Shannon to be abused by her “friends” at school or her sister at home, but it is her experience (the author’s), and important to read.

Book 5 of summer 2017!

Still Life with Tornado

28588459

Still Life with Tornado (ebook)

by A.S. King

 

Still Life with Tornado is a strange book, to say the least.  Sarah is a sixteen year old aspiring artist living in Philadelphia with her mom and dad.  She has decided not to return to school since it isn’t original, but we learn that something happened that traumatized Sarah.  She spends her days wandering the streets, following a homeless man, whom she admires and claims is original.  We also follow her at age 10 on vacation with her family in Mexico, where she isn’t traumatized, and isn’t aware of the pain she and her family will go through.  She doesn’t see her parents’ marriage unraveling, and she’s oblivious to the severity of the abuse her mom and brother endure at the hands of her father.  This is an odd read, and very, very sad, but worth it to see it through to the end.

What I liked about this book was the time switching and point of view.  That could make it a little hard to follow at first, but it also made the story more engaging and the characters more complex.  The point of view was mainly Sarah, either present or from the POV of her 10 year old self in Mexico.  A few chapters were from her mom’s POV, and that gave insight into Sarah’s parents’ marriage, which was a major factor in Sarah’s existential crisis.

What I didn’t like about this book was that it was a little hard to follow in the beginning.  I didn’t understand that she was having a breakdown, and I really wanted to know more about the problems of the story.  I had to get used to the idea that the details of the plot would be revealed as time went on.

Book 4 of summer 2017!

Ramona Blue

31449227

Ramona Blue (audiobook)

by Julie Murphy

 

Ramona is a high school senior in Eulogy, Mississippi, a small town on the gulf that was impacted by Katrina.  In fact, Ramona, her sister, and dad live in an old FEMA trailer in a trailer park.  They are very poor, and Ramona feels the financial burden when her older sister gets pregnant.  Ramona has always identified as lesbian, but she questions this when she falls for her best friend, who is a boy.  She and Freddy recently broke up with their girl friends and have rekindled their childhood friendship.  With a baby on the way, Ramona holds several jobs and thinks little of her own needs.  This story describes Ramona’s journey and all that she comes to terms with, whether it is her future outside of Eulogy, her sexual identity, her feelings for her family, or her long blue hair.

What I liked about this book was that Ramona is a character you feel compassion for.  You want the best for her, and you want others to treat her right.  Actually, most of the characters are well-written, and you feel like these are your friends.  I like books that appeal to my emotions.  I also appreciate books that make me think about things I cannot relate to so I can put myself into someone else’s shoes, and this definitely made me think.

What I didn’t like about this book was that I wanted to know more about Ramona’s future.  I guess there wasn’t really anything I disliked.  It was engaging and kept me reading.

Book 3 of summer 2017!

MARCH: Book One

61giX2H9iyL._SX340_BO1,204,203,200_

MARCH: Book One (paperback)

by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

AR Level 4.6, 1 point

 

Book One of the MARCH trilogy introduces us to John Lewis’s upbringing and entrance into the Civil Rights Movement.  Rep. Lewis was raised in the South on a farm.  He preached to the chickens while fighting for the chance to attend school and gain an education.  Others saw something in him and gave him the chance to use his skill and passion to meet Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and join the movement.  In this book, he stages peaceful sit-ins so African Americans could eat at food counters.

What I like about this book is it gives details on something I know bits and pieces about.  It is a graphic novel, and non-fiction, which is unusual.  It is a great way to retell history in a way that is not exactly entertaining, but engaging.  I want to make sure all of my students read this book so they learn about a part of history that is important, but not taught in detail.

What I didn’t like about this book isn’t something that can be helped.  Because of the context, there is a lot of language in this book.  I know the word nigger is one that is used in must my students listen to and their parents don’t blink an eye, but it different when I am providing a book that includes it.  It is important for them to see how this word was used and why it isn’t to be taken lightly.  I just worry that not everyone will see that, and I’ll have to take this valuable piece of literature out of my library.

Book 2 of Summer 2017!