Tag: YA

The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland

Author: Rebekah Crane
Published: December 1, 2016
272 pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

According to sixteen-year-old Zander Osborne, nowhere is an actual place—and she’s just fine there. But her parents insist that she get out of her head—and her home state—and attend Camp Padua, a summer camp for at-risk teens. Zander does not fit in—or so she thinks. She has only one word for her fellow campers: crazy. In fact, the whole camp population exists somewhere between disaster and diagnosis. There’s her cabinmate Cassie, a self-described manic-depressive-bipolar-anorexic. Grover Cleveland (yes, like the president), a cute but confrontational boy who expects to be schizophrenic someday, odds being what they are. And Bek, a charmingly confounding pathological liar.

But amid group “share-apy” sessions and forbidden late-night outings, unlikely friendships form, and as the Michigan summer heats up, the four teens begin to reveal their tragic secrets. Zander finds herself inextricably drawn to Grover’s earnest charms, and she begins to wonder if she could be happy. But first she must come completely unraveled to have any hope of putting herself back together again.

Kim’s Review:

This book was another one of those with a group of teenagers being overly dramatic about almost everything. I understand that these kids actually have problems, and I appreciated that fact to no end, after all these contemporary books I’ve been reading lately. However, there were also times when I wanted to grab one of them, shake them, and tell them to grow up! I don’t have patience with whining, with “woe is me” attitudes or with temper tantrums. Y’all already know my views on teenage suicide, so I won’t get back into that. I felt so much for Counselor Madison, for Carey, the head of the camp, and their plight in having to try to help all these teens at camp. Everything was constantly “me, me, me” and that got really tiring, really quick. But as I said, the fact that these were all truly troubled kids made this read a little more genuine. I think I would recommend this book to teachers, and occasionally to a teenager who is have attitude problems.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

The Hired Girl

Author: Laura Amy Schlitz
Published: September 8, 2015
400 pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Today Miss Chandler gave me this beautiful book. I vow that I will never forget her kindness to me, and I will use this book as she told me to—that I will write in it with truth and refinement…But who could be refined living at Steeple Farm?

Fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs, just like the heroines in her beloved novels, yearns for real life and true love. But what hope is there for adventure, beauty, or art on a hardscrabble farm in Pennsylvania where the work never ends? Over the summer of 1911, Joan pours her heart out into her diary as she seeks a new, better life for herself—because maybe, just maybe, a hired girl cleaning and cooking for six dollars a week can become what a farm girl could only dream of—a woman with a future.

Inspired by her grandmother’s journal, Newbery Medalist Laura Amy Schlitz brings her sharp wit and keen eye to early twentieth-century America in a comedic tour de force destined to become a modern classic. Joan’s journey from the muck of the chicken coop to the comforts of a society household in Baltimore (Electricity! Carpet sweepers! Sending out the laundry!) takes its reader on an exploration of feminism and housework, religion and literature, love and loyalty, cats, hats, bunions, and burns.

Kim’s Review:

I did enjoy this book, mainly based on the relationships that Joan establishes throughout her experiences. This is essentially, a story about growing up in the early 20th century. I’ll admit that I thought Joan to be a little whiny, but she is only 14 and it wasn’t too annoying. I also liked the way that Schlitz tackled anti-Semitism. That’s not a very popular issue to take on but there was plenty of material from that time period!

She seemed to be very accurate with the personalities of people such as Mrs. Rosenbach and Malka. I ended up liking them the most. Malka is a crotchety old lady who knows how she likes things done and won’t tolerate any change or nonsense. Yet she still has a soft spot. Reading about her interactions with Joan and the Rosenbachs endeared her to me. And Mrs. Rosenbach handles every situation with grace, poise, and a steady moral compass. I really appreciate how Mr. Rosenbach encourages Joan’s love of learning and tries to hold his own children to a higher academic standard. Hardwork is also a central theme that I think would benefit certain generations who are far too entitled for their own good! All this to say that although the book is written in Joan’s own thoughts, I liked it for most of the characters aside from Joan! I recommend this to any teenager and anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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The Special Ones

Author: Em Bailey
Published: July 18, 2017
304 pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

A mysterious cult leader has complete control over Esther’s life…or does he?

Esther is one of the Special Ones: four young spiritual guides who live under his protection in a remote farmhouse. The Special Ones are not allowed to leave, but why would they want to? They are safe from toxic modern life, safe from a meaningless existence, safe in their endless work. He watches them every moment of every day, ready to punish them if they forget who they are—and all the while, broadcasting their lives to eager followers on the outside.

Esther knows that if she stops being Special, he will “renew” her. That means being replaced with another Esther. Nobody knows what happens to the Special Ones who are taken away from the farm for renewal, but Esther fears the worst. She also knows she’s a fake. She has no ancient wisdom, and is deeply troubled about her life in captivity. But like an actor caught up in an endless play, she must keep up the performance if she wants to survive long enough to escape.

Kim’s Review:

To be 100% honest, this book seemed like a rehash of The Cellar by Natasha Preston. There were a lot of similarities and it really felt like almost exactly the same story. However, there were details that were different and I still enjoyed reading this book very much!

The first half of the book was definitely stronger than the second half. I enjoyed reading about the specifics of the kidnappings and imprisonment of the Special Ones and I liked learning about the nature of the delusion in which he has immersed himself. But, I was left feeling a bit disappointed about the photograph from which he got his inspiration. Who were these people? Why was that photo so important? What kind of research did he do? How did he know their names? We’ve had this discussion before, I’m a historian and you can’t leave me dangling like that! I need more information! Em, I’d like to formally request a book exclusively about those people in the photograph. Thank you.

The ending did get a little slow, but I liked the way the story resolved itself. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good psychological thriller or anyone who loves Criminal Minds. Yes, I did try to do some behavioral analysis on this book . . . it kept me stumped so I think that’s the sign of a stirring story! Definitely worth 4 stars!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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