Quick, M. (2016). Every Exquisite Thing. New York: Little, Brown and Company.
Nanette O’Hare is your typical teenager experiencing angst and hurt, and Every Exquisite Thing effortlessly succeeds in pulling the reader along with Nanette as she searches for answers. It all begins at Christmastime when her English teacher, Mr. Graves, gives her an out-of-print copy of the cult classic, The Bubblegum Reaper – complete with highlights, underlined passages, and dog-eared corners. The story speaks to some more than others. For Nanette, her obsession with the book causes her to reconsider past choices, drastically altering her relationships. She quits the soccer team Continue reading
Reynolds, J. (2014). When I Was The Greatest. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
The language pulled me right in to this Brooklyn, New York story. Instantly transporting me to Ali’s neighbourhood and his stoop where he sits with his main man, Noodles, and Noodles’ brother, Needles. The three young teenagers discover what it means to have each other’s back as they negotiate entrance to an ultra hip party at MoMo’s.
Grittiness abounds their existence but Ali determinedly stays sweet. “A lot of the stuff that gives my neighborhood a bad name, I don’t really mess with. The guns and drugs and all that, not really my thing. When you one of Doris’s kids, you learn early in life that school is all you need to worry about. And when it’s summertime, all you need to be concerned with then is making sure your butt got some kind of job, and staying out of trouble so that you can go back to school in September.” The character development is convincing, especially when the boys are faced with a situation at the party when they need to rely on each other. From that night forward, the definition of family is challenged and redefined for them and their loved ones.
Bondoux, A. (2010). A Time of Miracles. New York: Delacorte Books for Young Readers.
Koumaïl’s story begins with the Terrible Accident. Gloria is picking peaches in the Republic of Georgia when she hears a screeching noise, looks up to see an explosion, and runs to discover a trainwreck. She unearths a French woman who is about to die, holding a baby to her chest, begging Gloria to care for him. That baby is Blaise Fortune, and Gloria takes him and calls him Koumaïl. Koumaïl loves Gloria, who is a giving, no-nonsense, strong woman. He often asks her to tell his story, and she does – “always in the right order” as she says. It’s actually these stories which end up helping him survive and which demonstrate that hope is fundamental.
They are desperately poor and life gets much more difficult and complex five years later when the Soviet Union collapses and Gloria decides she and Koumaïl, or Monsieur Blaise as she sometimes affectionately refers to him, must flee as refugees from the civil unrest, determinedly making their way westward toward France. This begins a five year journey on foot across the Caucasus (between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea) and Europe where they meet many unforgettable people and have many dangerous experiences. But there is a secret about Blaise’s past. The story he slowly learns about the truth of his family is entangled in the violence during the civil unrest, and revolves around Gloria’s love. She has been a good mother to him all these years, sacrificing and finding extraordinary means to give him the best she can. Continue reading
Arnold, D. (2015). Mosquitoland. New York: Viking Children’s.
Mosquitoland is a witty, adventurous book about a sixteen year old girl named Mim whose parents are divorced. After learning that her mom is sick, she hops on a bus and takes on a 947 mile long road trip from “Mosquitoland”, Mississippi to Cleveland, Ohio. Along the way Mim meets a cast of characters ranging from best friends to bus drivers and she gathers experiences from bus accidents to dealing with her parents’ divorce to a new stepmom. Overall it is a wonderful story about a person trying to deal with a difficult time of her life.
Three out of five stars. Solid sauce. 😀