Review of Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

coverLies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

Available in Print and E-book.

I have great respect and admiration for those who participated in the Civil Rights Movement. I am awed by their courage to stand up and say “No more” to laws and people and attitudes so ingrained in society and everyday life. I cannot imagine what it was like for those who marched and boycotted; those who sat at lunch counters and at the front of buses; those who protested peacefully and practiced non-violence; those who fought in the courts and in the streets to obtain the basic rights and dignity that we all deserve.

This story follows the first African American students to attend an all white high school in a small Virginia town. Ten students are finally allowed to go years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of it. The governor and parents fought it. The school closed down for months to prevent it from happening – better for no one to go to school than to let ‘them’ go.

Sarah Dunbar and her sister are among the ten. Through Sarah’s voice, we experience her life. We hear the racist chants by students and adults. We feel the spit on her clothes. We see teachers acting indifferent to the bullying if not expressing their own distaste of her presence in their classroom. We feel the ugliness of racism.  Sarah is a senior and one of the top students at the all black school. Her parents moved to Virginia to be part of the movement, but it is Sarah and Ruth who must face daily onslaught and threats.

Had we just had Sarah’s voice, the story might have become overwhelming and desensitizing but we also hear from Linda Harrison whose father runs a newspaper and is one of the most vocal opponents to integration. She spouts the same hateful things her father has been saying her whole life about black people. She tries to defend segregation as Southern tradition. She believes it is unnatural for races to mix and be together in the same places. She knows God never meant for that to happen. Linda also blames the ten for messing up her senior year – if they had not riled things up, she could go to prom.

It is only when Sarah and Linda are put together for a school project that Linda begins to see Sarah differently and Sarah gets the opportunity to tell a white person how she truly feels.

This story takes the reader right into the minds of these brave students. We see all they see and hear all they hear. We know the excruciating reality they face every day. It is unpleasant and shameful. The story did go in a direction I was not initially expecting. If the author was trying to draw parallels with today’s issues, I don’t believe it was necessary. Nonetheless, this is a compelling read.

~Review by Will Smither, Indy PL Librarian and Teen Services Committee. You Know You Wanna Read It Blog.

Review for John Green’s Paper Towns

paper*Paper Towns* by John Green. Speak (Penguin Books), 2008.

Available in Print, CD Audiobook, Downloadable Audiobook, and E-book.

Another excellent and thoughtful teen novel from author of the best-selling *The Fault in Our Stars.* It was also a winner of the Edgar Award for best young adult mystery novel.

Quentin is a high school senior in Orlando, Florida. His next door neighbor is the dynamic, charismatic Margo. They were good friends when they were 10 but by the time they got to high school, he was in NerdLand and she was a school leader. He is still fixated on her. A few weeks before graduation, she climbs into his second story window and drags him off for a night of adventures, getting revenge on her cheating boyfriend and other people, and breaking into SeaWorld, just to say they did. She complains how she hates living in this paper town with all the paper people. Quentin is hoping this will be the start of something between them; but the next day Margo does not show up for school. She has left a cryptic, depressed note and a lot of clues. Quentin fears she may have been contemplating suicide, and he talks several friends into helping him track through the clues. As he does, he begins to realize that he has kept this idealized image of Margo in his head for years; but he has no idea what she is really like. To track her down, he will have to learn who she really is – and to discover a lot more about himself.

Excellent dialogue and characters, with some hilarious scenes, will keep teen readers galloping along; but the philosophy and wisdom is what will stick with them. Walt Whitman’s *Leaves of Grass* provides a lot of the clues and subtext for the story (and gave me a better understanding of the work, too). A challenging book in a lot of ways, not necessarily as a hard read, but as a book which challenges the reader to move toward adulthood.

*The Fault in our Stars* is probably more universal in its appeal to both teen and adult readers; but anyone who likes books for this age group will like this, too. A film version of *Paper Towns* will be released this summer.

Reviewer ~ Steve Bridge, retired children’s librarian

Librarian Beth Pintal Reviews Half Bad by Sally Green

half badHalf Bad by Sally Green

Available in Print and E-book.

The world is divided in so many ways in this book – witch and human (or Fain as the witches call them), black witches and white witches….but what happens to someone who is half black witch and half white witch?  Nathan is the only one so divided, and his father is the most hated black witch in the world.  Which side of him is more powerful?  Is Nathan destined to be evil, or, because the so-called “good” white witches presume he is already evil, will he be turned that way due to their abominable treatment of him?  And what of the prophesy that he will kill his father?  Does he even want to?  After being held captive by the White Council, Nathan escapes, but now what?  Where do you go when the world is against you?
The second book in this trilogy, Half Wild, comes out in March 2015.

Spotlight on realistic Teen books about depression

13Thirteen reasons why : a novel by Jay Asher.

When high school student Clay Jenkins receives a box in the mail containing thirteen cassette tapes recorded by his classmate Hannah, who committed suicide, he spends a bewildering and heartbreaking night crisscrossing their town, listening to Hannah’s voice recounting the events leading up to her death.

Available in Print, E-book, Downloadable Audiobook, and CD Audiobook.

 

 

chanceThe chance you wont return by Annie Cardi.

High school student Alex Winchester struggles to hold her life together in the face of her mother’s threatening delusions about being Amelia Earhart.

Available in Print and E-book.

 

 

 

 

notesSuicide notes : a novel by Michael Thomas Ford.

Brimming with sarcasm, fifteen-year-old Jeff describes his stay in a psychiatric ward after attempting to commit suicide.

Available in Print and E-book.

 

 

 

 

willWill Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan.

When two teens, one gay and one straight, meet accidentally and discover that they share the same name, their lives become intertwined as one begins dating the other’s best friend, who produces a play revealing his relationship with them both.

Available in Print, CD Audiobook, E-book, and Downloadable Audiobook.

 

 

 

Spotlight on Young Adult Fiction about ADD/ADHD

1Playing Tyler by TL Costa

Tyler MacCandless is looking at a bleak future. With his father dead and his mother mentally checked out, Tyler is responsible for his older brother Brandon who’s in rehab for heroin abuse–again. With no skills to speak of outside of playing video games, a fast food future is all but a certainty. That is, until the day Tyler’s mentor Rick asks him to test a new video game. A good enough score can earn him a place in flight school. But then Brandon goes missing, and Tyler discovers the game is far more than it seems.

Available in Print.

 

2Motorcycles, sushi & one strange book by Nancy Rue

Fifteen-year-old Jessie Hatcher, forced to go to Florida with the father she thought was dead, finds that his faith, a book that seems to speak to her heart, and new friends help her get control of her ADHD and her life.

Available in Print.