Friday, March 20, 2015

Teen review: Edgy, realistic fiction

Lucy in the Sky, by Anonymous (a novel similar to Go Ask Alice), chronicles the story of a 16-year-old girl whose life is turned inside out by the pressures of drugs and alcohol. Her battles and many of her victories are temporary as she struggles through the pages of adolescence. Reading her journal and not knowing her name seems like a breach of privacy, but the story pulls and tugs until its message is clear. Ross, Lauren, Ian, and Blake are the friends who fill the friendship void the summer before her junior year and introduce her to a world of parties and good feelings. The small band of friends experiment with drugs as if it were a harmless hobby. A line is drawn at the more lethal drugs until the bands of peer pressure, being one of the gang, tighten and squeeze every ounce of resistance out of the narrator. Not wanting to feel like the only one not having 'fun' fuels her dark determination, even when her friends up the anti with the worst drugs imaginable.

Lucy in the Sky tells a story in which readers will reel from the roller coaster waves of emotion: pride that the narrator makes friends, hope that she'll just say no, and a little anger, sadness, and disappointment from the consequences of her actions. She is tight with Cam, but doesn't have any really close friends. She does well in school and comes from a nice family and background. She soon meets Ross at yoga class and they start hanging out. She likes him from the start and is thrilled to find out he will be going to her high school in the fall. Cam likes him as well, and they start going to parties with him. Ross introduces her to Lauren, who has just moved here from New York to live with her dad. She's the kind of girl the author has always wanted to be friends with. The girls hit it off and become inseparable. Ross starts asking if she wants to smoke pot which she's apprehensive about at first. Once she does it she can't wait to do it again. Soon it's one party after another, and one Cosmo after another. The pot smoking escalates to acid and Ecstasy. She can't get enough of it. An older guy begins showing her some attention and he brings cocaine into the mix. The drug use begins to spiral and affect her school life as well as her home life. Cam is threatening to tell their parents but she will not stop. It's her life and nobody is going to tell her how to live it. The drug use finally escalates to the point of no return and her family confronts her.

The journal format really allows the reader to see how quickly she spirals from "just pot" into much more dangerous drugs and situations. She has no regard for the situations she's putting herself in or the damage she's doing to her health and reputation. The drugs and partying are the only things that she thinks make her attractive to her friends. She manipulates her brother, and the guilt he must feel by the end is enormous. It shows how easy it is to cover up drug use even within a family that considers itself close. Her recklessness was frustrating to read. As the reader you keep asking yourself when she's going to realize how in over her head she is. It showed how far someone is willing to go to feel close to other people and to fit in.

She didn't have the excuse of coming from a bad family--she just wanted to fit in and feel good about herself, and the drugs did that for her. Everyone wants answers when someone does something out of character. She had what most would consider an ideal life and everyone will want answers as to why she did it, but this book shows that sometimes there's no real answer for why. She was just immature and naive to the consequences.

All in all, this 300-page book was amazing. I honestly do not think I ever read a book better than this one. I think Lucy in the Sky should be read by parents, children and teachers. It is not easy to read, due to the subject matter, but it should be required reading. This can happen to any family or any friend. I would rate this book a 5 out of 5; it is a really interesting story, and once you start reading you just do not want to stop. I really hope I find more books like this one.

Reviewed by Pamela A., Grade 9

Editor's note: You won't find this book in our catalog, but you will find it in our YA paperbacks sections! Ask a librarian to help you...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Who is "A"???

Have YOU signed up for the PRETTY LITTLE LIARS screening of the FINALE, presented by Warner Bros. and BPL? It's showing on Tuesday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. at the Buena Vista branch, two hours BEFORE it airs on television! Join us for the group experience! See costumes and props from the show on display!

Sign up by emailing!

Guest review: New fantasy from V. E. Schwab!

10-12 Book Club: You loved Vicious, and now there's a new series starting by author V. E. Schwab! Here's a review by fantasy maven and reference librarian Daryl Maxwell

What if there were multiple Londons? Four vastly different but parallel cities existing simultaneously in the same location? A Grey London, dark and dirty, ruled by a mad king and almost completely devoid of magic; a Red London, bright and beautiful, where a benevolent monarchy rules over a flourishing, magic-infused empire; a White London, where the throne is attained through treachery and dominance, and the populace struggles to control a form of magic that is as rebellious and untrustworthy as they are; and a Black London, source of the most powerful--and unpredictable--magic, lost to the other Londons for generations.

Kell is an Antari, a traveller. He is one of the few with the ability to travel between the Londons. Officially, Kell delivers the monthly communications between the different aristocracies. Unofficially, Kell also smuggles small items between worlds for the fascinated few who will pay handsomely for a glimpse into a world they will never see. It’s one of those unofficial tasks that has stranded Kell in Grey London and left him at the mercy of a pickpocket named Lila Bard. Lila has stolen from him, saved his life, and now demands to be taken to one of the other Londons. She’s looking for adventure, while Kell just wants to go home. But what neither of them knows is that the events that brought them together have put all of the Londons in terrible danger.

In A Darker Shade of Magic, V.E. Schwab, author of last year’s marvelous Vicious, spins a tale of (not two but) four cities, and the man who can travel between them. Schwab creates a set of distinct and interesting Londons, populated by wonderfully drawn, recognizable, believable, and likable characters. I particularly liked Lila Bard: It is rare in SF/F books to find such a strong and well-defined female character, with strength, will, a sharp tongue, and a wicked sense of humor, but also vulnerability and empathy. Lila is clearly the equal of the book’s other protagonist Kell. But while Lila and Kell are equals, they are also opposites in many ways: female/male, thief/royal, magic/non-magic. They are almost opposing mirror images of each other, but they both ultimately long for the same thing: freedom. The result is a pair who will appeal to readers regardless of their age, gender or background.

Beyond all that, A Darker Shade of Magic is just an awful lot of fun! While the threats to the Londons are clear and evident, Schwab is able to keep the book an exciting and enjoyable swashbuckling adventure. Like Vicious before it, A Darker Shade of Magic would make a fabulous film (if Schwab’s work was translated intact in the production process). A Darker Shade of Magic is a wonderful read, and it's impossible not to wonder where V.E. Schwab will take her readers next!

Editor's note: Anarda and I enjoyed this book too! Since this isn't a stand-alone, we know that one place she will take us is back to the Londons with Kell and Lila! It will be hard to wait…

Also, read an interview with Victoria Schwab that Daryl did for the main library blog!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Teen review: Realistic Romance

Getting Over Garrett Delaney, by Abby McDonald, is an impactful realistic fiction story that shares an important message about independence to which I believe all girls can relate. The story is narrated by a smitten teenage girl, Sadie, who is hopelessly in love with her best friend, Garrett Delaney. The lovestruck teen has spent long years languishing for him while Garrett cluelessly goes through hook-ups and break-ups with other girls. All year, Sadie has strategically planned out how Garrett will finally realize his unconditional love for her during a summer literary camp, but when Garrett calls Sadie to confess his undying love for a different girl, all Sadie’s dreams are mercilessly crushed. After some catastrophic occurrences created by her lovesick mind, Sadie realizes that her Garrett obsession has become a major problem in her life. With the help of old and new friends, Sadie embarks on a journey to find out who she really is, and to totally reinvent the girl called Sadie.

I was extremely surprised to find that I actually really enjoyed this book. I didn't think this genre was exactly my cup of tea, but this particular novel has proved me wrong. It was a pleasantly refreshing change from my usual stack of fantasy novels, and I really loved laughing along with the lighthearted characters. Sadie was a person I could really relate to, and after reading this book I wanted to read it again! Everything considered, I would rate this book as a 4 out of 5.

Reviewed by Michelle, grade 8