Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Teen review: Magical realism

Reviewed by Amy Sepulveda, 10th grade

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, by Leslye Walton, despite its long title, was just not a long enough book for me, taking into consideration the 301 pages of enigmatic wonder. It is a tenth-grade reading-level fantasy novel, that is unfortunately not part of a series. Walton’s novel has earned a 5/5 from me, for writing style, and plot and character development.

This admittedly very odd and thoughtful novel is full of love, heartbreak, and isolation. Throughout the book, we learn about Ava Lavender’s family as she attempts to find out why she was brought into this world with wings, when her twin brother Henry is anatomically correct (although his personality is strange). The story begins in the early 1900s with Ava’s great-grandfather, and Walton tells the tale of each life brought into their family before Ava and Henry. Each of Ava’s grandmother’s siblings has had a mysterious and gruesome fate, while her grandmother Emilienne lives on and takes over everything. Readers learn about the sad life of Ava’s mother Viviane, and then the teenage years of the twins, with Ava just trying to fit in with her best friend Cardigan’s friends when she sneaks out every night.

I found that I absolutely loved The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, though I admit I definitely had my doubts when I began reading. Each life I read about was so different compared to the others, even though many of them were siblings. I learned that no matter where one is from or what family one grows up in, each person has their own life and experiences with love. I at first believed that I would be bored just reading about other people’s sad, boring lives, but I discovered that other’s lives are not boring at all. They’re all full of adventure and finding new things in life that no one before has. Every page was compelling and it was impossible for me to put the book down because I was so intrigued. I would recommend this book to anyone, including adults, because there is a multitude of lessons that anyone, of all ages can learn.

The cover art shows a single golden feather, representing Ava’s wings, and also how anyone can be freed from the barriers they either set up for themselves or others put up for them.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Divergent and tattoos: Photos!

Three Dauntless and an Abnegation! The photos from our Divergent Event last Friday afternoon and evening are up on Facebook! Go here to see them!

Teens' Top Ten Time!

Time to vote for your top three favorites out of the list of 25! Did you save your ballot over the summer? Are you ready? Go HERE to vote! We will publish the results when they come out for Teen Read Week.

Teen review: Peculiar Children!

Reviewed by Melody, grade 11

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, by Ransom Riggs, is a fictional novel mainly consisting of fantasy and adventure. The main character is Jacob, a 16-year-old boy who has always craved adventure in his life. However, while attempting to live up to the expectations of his family, Jacob has abandoned the idea of an adventurous life. The only person who seems to understand Jacob is his grandfather. Grandfather Portman has been telling Jacob extraordinary stories involving monsters and children with “special abilities” since he was young, which constantly left Jacob in awe. Nonetheless, as Jacob matures the stories seem to become increasingly difficult to actually believe. When the mysterious death of Grandfather Portman occurs and a cryptic message is left behind, Jacob decides to embark on a journey to unmask his grandfather’s mysterious and dangerous past. Once on the journey, Jacob will discover much more than he thought imaginable and how unordinary his life truly is.

This novel is not only told in thorough details and descriptions, but with spooky yet fascinating photography. The story consists of 382 pages, including a preview of the sequel, Hollow City. For the time being, there is only a sequel to this novel, which is equally as intriguing. Although this book is filled with dangerous missions, there are not many gory details, making it appropriate for young readers. I would suggest this novel to those in the age range of 12 to 17 who enjoy thrilling and spine-chilling novels. I consider this novel enjoyable by almost all ages; there are not many novels that can be entertaining and exciting for such a huge age range. For this reason, it has easily become one of my favorites. It is not the typical adventure-filled novel; it is filled with the learning of true friendship, bravery, and being content with oneself. The authentic, vintage found photographs that are included make this novel specifically unique and endlessly fascinating to read. I would not change a thing about this novel and would rate it a 5 out of 5 stars. As for the cover, it is completely accurate for the spooky ambience portrayed throughout the novel. Fortunately, there is a movie in the making for this novel set to release in 2016!

Editor's note: Here is a photo of Melody meeting author Ransom Riggs at Comicon!