Author: Cammie McGovern
Published: June 3, 2014
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars meets Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park in this beautifully written, incredibly honest, and emotionally poignant novel. Cammie McGovern’s insightful young adult debut is a heartfelt and heartbreaking story about how we can all feel lost until we find someone who loves us because of our faults, not in spite of them.
Born with cerebral palsy, Amy can’t walk without a walker, talk without a voice box, or even fully control her facial expressions. Plagued by obsessive-compulsive disorder, Matthew is consumed with repeated thoughts, neurotic rituals, and crippling fear. Both in desperate need of someone to help them reach out to the world, Amy and Matthew are more alike than either ever realized.
When Amy decides to hire student aides to help her in her senior year at Coral Hills High School, these two teens are thrust into each other’s lives. As they begin to spend time with each other, what started as a blossoming friendship eventually grows into something neither expected.
I really liked this book. This was one of those stories that after I closed it, I had to sit and just ponder. I’ve never been a good one with people who are disabled. I feel the pity and the discomfort and I know that they hate it when people respond to them that way, but unfortunately, I’m still working on it. This book elicits that kind of discomfort, but in an educational kind of way.
Many people have a hard time realizing that physical disability does not mean mental disability. Say What You Will does a good job of making that distinction. Amy has cerebral palsy and is always treated like either a fragile robin’s egg, or as mentally challenged. All she wants is to be treated like a regular teenager. Matthew has his own problems, but they’re easier to hide. But Amy seems to be the only one who understands him. The story is all about the roller coaster that is their relationship. Seriously, by the end, I didn’t know if I should cry, or smile, or just sit there with my mouth hanging open. I would suggest this for anyone who has a disability or those who know anyone with a disability. I would also recommend this for mature teenagers. Getting a look inside a person who could be considered an outcast is never a bad thing.
Author: Leslye Walton
Published: March 13, 2018
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4.5 stars
From the author of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender comes a haunting maelstrom of magic and murder in the lush, moody Pacific Northwest.
When Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island more than a century ago, her otherworldly skills might have benefited friendlier neighbors. Guilt and fear instead led the island’s original eight settlers to burn “the witch” out of her home. So Rona cursed them. Fast-forward one hundred–some years: All Nor Blackburn wants is to live an unremarkable teenage life. She has reason to hope: First, her supernatural powers, if they can be called that, are unexceptional. Second, her love life is nonexistent, which means she might escape the other perverse side effect of the matriarch’s backfiring curse, too. But then a mysterious book comes out, promising to cast any spell for the right price. Nor senses a storm coming and is pretty sure she’ll be smack in the eye of it.
In her second novel, Leslye Walton spins a dark, mesmerizing tale of a girl stumbling along the path toward self-acceptance and first love, even as the Price Guide’s malevolent author — Nor’s own mother — looms and threatens to strangle any hope for happiness.
I read The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender several years ago and I really enjoyed it! Plus, the cover is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen! So when I saw The Price Guide to the Occult, the cover jumped out at me and I had to get it. I actually liked it better than I did Ava Lavender! Price Guide was actually far more story-centric than Ava Lavender was.
I wanted so badly to find out what was going on that I barely put this book down. The history of the Blackburn family fascinated me. My inner historian (that’s actually not so inner and incredibly easy to arouse) jumped up and started begging to learn more.
Nor was a likeable character, considering that she’s a teenager who so desperately fights to be differing from what she is. I found myself feeling for her and rooting for her throughout the book. After finding out how horrible her mother is, I felt for her even more. Nor’s grandmother, Judd, may be gruff and bristly, but she really cares for Nor and she became one of my favorite characters. I loved the setting that Walton created and she was able to conjure fantastical elements that still sounded believable.
The fern tattoos were creepy, yet beautiful and I even started considering getting a fern tattoo up my arm . . . ink is addicting, don’t judge me! Overall, this story was interesting and unique and I like how I felt I had never read it before. I think this book is suited perfectly for older teens and honestly, it’s a great one to give to both teens who love to read and to those who don’t like reading. I think this would be a great book to help get them into reading.
Author: Alison Umminger
Published: June 7, 2016
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars
She was looking for a place to land.
Anna is a fifteen-year-old girl slouching toward adulthood, and she’s had it with her life at home. So Anna “borrows” her stepmom’s credit card and runs away to Los Angeles, where her half-sister takes her in. But LA isn’t quite the glamorous escape Anna had imagined.
As Anna spends her days on TV and movie sets, she engrosses herself in a project researching the murderous Manson girls—and although the violence in her own life isn’t the kind that leaves physical scars, she begins to notice the parallels between herself and the lost girls of LA, and of America, past and present.
In Anna’s singular voice, we glimpse not only a picture of life on the B-list in LA, but also a clear-eyed reflection on being young, vulnerable, lost, and female in America—in short, on the B-list of life. Alison Umminger writes about girls, sex, violence, and which people society deems worthy of caring about, which ones it doesn’t, in a way not often seen in YA fiction.
Normally I find the protagonists of coming of age stories to be shallow, immature, and downright obnoxious! Not so in American Girls. Anna captured the “regularness” that many of these characters, especially girls, lack. Her life is turned upside down and her reaction to it all, yes, is dramatic, but understandable. I liked her, I understood why she did the things that she did, and I sympathized with her. Especially when she was talking about not trying to cause trouble or to hurt people but it ends up happening anyway. This book accomplished what so many other failed at, a regular person dealing with regular things all while being likable and relatable. Throwing in the Manson girls and working through some philosophical questions raised by the murders and their aftermaths, which is the main reason I read it, and you get a true to life, heartfelt story about growing up in a topsy-turvy world.