Tag: 5 stars

Just a Normal Tuesday

Author: Kim Turrisi
252 pages in Paperback

To Be Published: May 2, 2017
Dates Read: April 15-19, 2017

My Rating: 5 Stars

Book Summary from Goodreads:

It’s just a normal Tuesday for sixteen-year-old Kai, until suddenly it’s anything but. She’s received a letter from her beloved older sister, Jen, a letter that begins, “My very bestest sister, Kai, if you are reading this, I am already gone.” From that moment on, Kai’s life will never be the same, as she is forced to deal with the shock and horror of losing Jen to suicide.

Consumed with grief, Kai looks for answers, lashes out at people who love her and eventually turns to excessive drinking and drugs, all with disastrous results and no relief from her suffering. Struggling with their own sorrow, Kai’s parents realize she needs more help than they can give, and they enroll her in the Tree House, a “grief camp” for children. Though reluctant to go, once she’s there, Kai finally finds others who truly understand her loss. No longer alone, she’s able to begin dealing with her pain. And to see light at the end of the dark tunnel.

My Review:

This will be a difficult review to write as Just a Normal Tuesday is difficult to read. It deals with the issues of death, suicide, and teens. Kai is sixteen and comes home from school and finds a letter in the mail from her sister Jenn. She finds this strange as no one write letters any more when they can call or text, especially when Jenn lives close by. Then Kai opens the letter and her life changes forever as it is a suicide note from Jenn. Kai rushes to her sister’s apartment but it’s too late. This is just the beginning of Kai’s story.

This is Kim Turrisi’s first novel and what a debut it is! Just a Normal Tuesday is raw, gritty, and real! After her sister’s death Kai spirals out of control. She drinks heavily and begins taking drugs, including the prescription drugs her sister took. The feelings Kai has feel so real! Once her family and friends realize she needs serious help she is sent to a grief camp against her will.

The second half of the book focuses on the grief camp and we see the transformation Kai experiences as she gets comfortable with her group she is assigned to. We see all the teens change for the better as they go through camp. We come to care about them all and want them to all overcome their grief from their various losses. Just a Normal Tuesday ends with a positive note towards the future.

In the Author’s Note Kim Turrisi shares that when she was fifteen her sister committed suicide. She shares how writing Just a Normal Tuesday helped her with forgiveness and the loss of her sister. Everything feels so authentic that it seems like she took the feelings Kai had when she was out of control from her own experiences. The words she wrote could only come from someone who had experienced that kind of grief. With that you feel a connection to the author. At times it felt like these were Kim’s feelings and experiences. Just a Normal Tuesday is that real.

I want to share that I lost my dad just a few days after my nineteenth birthday. It was not in the way that Kai lost her sister, but it was still a heavy loss that I still feel at times. Reading Just a Normal Tuesday brought back that time for me and the memories and feelings from then and because of this at times it was difficult to read. I knew it was going to be difficult when I began it, but it is a book you do not want to put down.

Just a Normal Tuesday is very highly recommended for anyone who has lost someone, especially at a younger age. The target demographic is 14-18 but anyone could read this book and take something away from it.

I want to end with this: My dad passed away on May 4, 1999 which was a Tuesday.

“It was just a normal Tuesday. And then it wasn’t.”- Kai

**Special thanks to Kids can Press and KCP Loft for sending me an arc. Just a Normal Tuesday deeply touched me and it was a pleasure to review it.

Zenn Diagram

Author: Wendy Brant
315 pages in Paperback

Published: April 4, 2017
Dates Read: April 4-12, 2017

My Rating: 5 stars

Book Summary from Goodreads:

The more I touch someone, the more I can see and understand, and the more I think I can help. But that’s my mistake. I can’t help. You can’t fix people like you can solve a math problem.

Math genius. Freak of nature. Loner.

Eva Walker has literally one friend—if you don’t count her quadruplet three-year-old-siblings—and it’s not even because she’s a math nerd. No, Eva is a loner out of necessity, because everyone and everything around her is an emotional minefield. All she has to do is touch someone, or their shirt, or their cell phone, and she can read all their secrets, their insecurities, their fears.

Sure, Eva’s “gift” comes in handy when she’s tutoring math and she can learn where people are struggling just by touching their calculators. For the most part, though, it’s safer to keep her hands to herself. Until she meets six-foot-three, cute-without-trying Zenn Bennett, who makes that nearly impossible.

Zenn’s jacket gives Eva such a dark and violent vision that you’d think not touching him would be easy. But sometimes you have to take a risk…

My Review:

What more can I say than this?: I absolutely loved and adored Zenn Diagram!  In fact, it has made its way into my #1 read of 2017 so far this year! I have been reading a lot of thriller and suspense books lately, so it was a welcome change of pace when I started Zenn Diagram which is YA (Young Adult).

Eva is a loner in school by choice.  She has a unique ‘gift’ (or is it a curse?) She can touch someone or something and then gets these visions and fractals (a repeating pattern that becomes clearer over time.) She tutors fellow students in Math because through these visions she can see where students are having their difficulties  by simply touching their calculator.  She also learns issues and secrets that she may not want to know.  Needless to say she avoids touching others at all costs…. Until she meets Zenn, a boy in school that she begins to tutor.

Zenn Diagram is Wendy Brant’s first novel and it is a brilliant debut!  I did not want to put it down.  The characters are fully developed and you can’t help but adore both Eva and Zenn. Eva is smart and feisty, yet also lonely and frustrated.  You really see through her how it can be not being able to touch someone. Her ‘aversion to touching’  has made her classmates believe she is a ‘germaphobe’, which puts her in that category of one the ‘weird kids’ in school.

Zenn is a hardworking guy and also very adorable.  At first Eva isn’t sure what to think of him when she accidentally touches his jacket and gets an unpleasant fractal.  Over time the relationship grows and a romance progresses.  They are delightful together! It is a sweet romance that you can’t help but eat up and want more of.  The issue of how can a romance occur if you can’t touch the other person is brought up.  A conversation with Eva and some friends takes place involving consent in regard to physical contact, which seems to be becoming a more mainstream topic now. In that conversation there is a great analogy involving tea. Even though I don’t drink tea, you won’t think of it in the same way again. You want things to work out as Eva and Zenn are perfect for each other at this stage in their lives.

Zenn Diagram is more than just a sweet teenage romance.  There are things in both Eva and Zenn’s lives that are far from perfect. There are things we don’t know about both of them at first and then Wendy Brant goes and pulls a twist from out of nowhere that I would have never suspected!  It was exceptional!  From that reveal there is a change of direction with the novel.  When the novel was over I wanted more.

This is a brilliant first novel and I look forward to what Wendy Brant will bring us next!

**I received an e-arc through NetGalley and a physical arc from Kids Can Press and KCP Loft. Thank you so much for my copies!

**Note to Parents: Zenn Diagram is filled with ‘teenagers being teenagers’ and we see all the teen angst that occurs with teen relationships. In addition to the intimacy issues addressed there is language, but I feel neither is worse than what teenagers hear at school or see on television. There is no teen drinking or drug use in Zenn Diagram. There is language throughout the novel and yes the F-word is used. If you are worried about that then please read (and love) this book before giving to your kids. On my arc copy it recommends the book for ages 14-18, which I would agree with.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Author: Mark Haddon
AUDIOBOOK

Published: July 31, 2003
Dates Read:  March 7-14, 2017

My Rating: 5 stars

Book Summary from Amazon:

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, Christopher is autistic. Everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning for him. Routine, order and predictability shelter him from the messy, wider world. Then, at fifteen, Christopher’s carefully constructed world falls apart when he finds his neighbor’s dog, Wellington, impaled on a garden fork, and he is initially blamed for the killing.

Christopher decides that he will track down the real killer and turns to his favorite fictional character, the impeccably logical Sherlock Holmes, for inspiration. But the investigation leads him down some unexpected paths and ultimately brings him face to face with the dissolution of his parents’ marriage. As he tries to deal with the crisis within his own family, we are drawn into the workings of Christopher’s mind.

And herein lies the key to the brilliance of Mark Haddon’s choice of narrator: The most wrenching of emotional moments are chronicled by a boy who cannot fathom emotion. The effect is dazzling, making for a novel that is deeply funny, poignant, and fascinating in its portrayal of a person whose curse and blessing is a mind that perceives the world literally.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is one of the freshest debuts in years: a comedy, a heartbreaker, a mystery story, a novel of exceptional literary merit that is great fun to read.

Review:

Christopher is our narrator for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. For the rest of the review it will be referenced as The Curious Incident. Though not mentioned by name in the novel, Christopher has Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism. He is fifteen and one day he finds his neighbor’s dog has been killed. The Curious Incident is his journey to find the dog’s killer, but it becomes much more than that: It is a tale of a boy trying to find his place in our very complicated world.

Mark Haddon used to work with autistic individuals and his writing perfectly shows us how a person with Asperger’s may think. Haddon really gets us inside Christopher’s head. I became fully involved in the journey and was with Christoper every step of the way.

I chose to read this book as it is next in a book club I have joined. Since my reading list is very full I had to listen to it on CD versus actually reading it. This review is for the audio version. I knew there were pictures throughout the novel, so I was prepared to get the actual book as well. I was worried I might miss something by not seeing the pictures. The narrator did a great job in his narration and I do not feel that I missed anything by listening to the audio version. I was actually able to get a copy of The Curious Incident at my local library book sale, so I was able to see what the pictures looked like in the novel.

One thing I was confused about as I started listening to the CD were the chapters. The novel did not begin with chapter one. They are instead numbered differently with prime numbers. Once that was explained I was fine. At first I thought the first chapter was skipped in the CD I was listening to!

Some other things to keep in mind if you are going to read The Curious Incident. Christopher is very detail driven in his narration. At times it could be seen as if it was dragging on, but this is who Christopher is and he can’t help it. He is very literal in his thoughts and explanations. Math is mentioned a great deal in The Curious Incident. For those of us that are not mathematically inclined, this can seem to keep going like the Energizer Bunny.

Christopher also doesn’t like jokes as he can analyze them, but he doesn’t understand them. He is writing a book on his mission to find out who killed the neighbor’s dog, and he says the book will not be funny, but he is so literal in this thinking that at times he is funny without realizing it and you can’t help but giggle a time or two.

This was a very enjoyable read for me. It is a shorter novel around 220 pages that could be read very quickly, though it may not be for everyone. It seems The Curious Incident is either a love it or hate it kind of novel.

The Curious Incident is highly recommended.

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