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!
Holding Up the Universe (audiobook)
by Jennifer Niven
AR Level 4.9, 12 points (not for kids!)
Jack is a senior in high school who appears to have it all- he’s good looking, he has an on-again/off-again girlfriend, and he’s a ladies man. Libby is a junior, and holds the title of (former) world’s largest teenager and about 600 pounds. She was cut out of her house a few years ago, and lost half of her body weight. Despite appearances, Jack has a brain disorder called face blindness, or prosopagnosia, which means he can’t identify people by their faces. This puts him at a disadvantage, and he is scared and overcompensates with his “big man on campus” persona. Libby has a larger than life personality, loves dancing, and isn’t afraid to tell people what she’s feeling. When Jack bullies Libby, they have to confront their weaknesses, and enemies become friends.
What I liked about this book was the message. Jack and Libby were opposites in many ways, but both learned lessons about not judging books by their covers. Despite Libby’s physical appearance, Jack loved her for who she was, which made her beautiful. Despite Jack’s persona, Libby discovered Jack had a kind heart and loved him, even with his face blindness.
What I didn’t like about this book was the language. I felt like it would’ve been a great book for my sixth graders to read, except for the cussing. I understand they are high school students, and that’s how high school students talk, but I also think a broader audience could have been reached if the language was more appropriate.
Book 54 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)
by Gary Paulsen
AR Level 5.7, 7 points
Hatchet is a book I’ve put off reading, and figured I should at least see what the hype is about. Since I knew I’d never read it, I decided to listen to the audiobook. I’m glad I did. It isn’t my kind of book, and I have no interest in finishing the series, but Hatchet is a Newbery Honor for a reason.
The story starts with Brian flying to visit his father in a small plane. He is thinking about his mother having an affair and his parents’ divorce, when his pilot has a heart attack and dies right there at the controls, with them still in the air. Brian is panicked and has to find a way to land the plane. He crash lands it into the water, and survives. Brian spends the next 50+ days recovering from injuries and trying to survive the wilderness with nothing but a hatchet to help him. Brian is eventually discovered, but not before he suffers and grows stronger.
What I liked about the book was that it is action packed from the moment you start reading. There is drama throughout, and it would hold the attention (I think) of kids who enjoy adventure and survival. It didn’t have what I would look for in a book, but I can see the merit in it, and why it won the Newbery Honor title.
What I didn’t like about the book was the fact that the pilot stayed in the plane the whole time. I kept picturing him in there, dead, and knowing that the body doesn’t look great after it’s been underwater (dead) for awhile. I just didn’t want to picture it, and I knew that he would eventually be discovered by Brian. I don’t think that’s an image any kid should have, and it kind of weirded me out.
Book 43 of 40 (40 Book Challenge)