Saturday, August 13, 2016

Book clubs are coming!


Our JOINT MEETING of the three teen book clubs (6+7, 8+9, and 10-12) is next Wednesday, August 17, at 7:00 p.m. at the Central Library.

Current book club members who are promoting up will meet their new club, and new book club members will meet everyone! We will socialize, and then separate into the three groups to pick our books for discussion in SEPTEMBER at our first regularly scheduled meetings.

If you are not a book club member but would like to be, contact Melissa by emailing melliott@burbankca.gov to inquire. We will not be admitting any more new members to the 10-12 Book Club this year, as we are already way over capacity; but there is a waiting list for the 8+9 Book Club with a good possibility for moving into that club right away, and there are still a couple of spots open in the 6+7 Book Club as well.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

What we're reading: John Corey Whaley!

Our friend John Corey Whaley (some of you will remember him from last summer's Book Café) has written a new book, called Highly Illogical Behavior. And while I greatly enjoyed his other books--Where Things Come Back, his debut novel for which he won the prestigious Printz award, and Noggin, his book about the annoying Travis Coates, whose head gets transplanted onto a different body--I think this one is my favorite.

Solomon, 16, has suffered from acute anxiety all his life. One day in middle school, he had a major meltdown that he was able to fix only by climbing into the school fountain and lying down in the water, and he hasn't been seen or heard from since. Solomon has decided that agoraphobia is the perfect solution to all his problems--he simply won't leave his house ever again. It's now been three years and counting.

Lisa, desperate to get out of her small town in Southern California's Inland Empire, has decided that Solomon is the answer. She is applying for a full scholarship at the college with the second-best psychology program (let's be realistic), and she figures that if she can "fix" Solomon, she's guaranteed to get it. So she, along with her charming boyfriend Clark (roped in mostly against his will, but amiable enough to go along), makes Sol her summer project. But she can't just come out and say "Hi, I'm here to fix you," she has to be his friend in order to gain his confidence. She doesn't stop to think what difficulties this may present later. Big mistake.

I loved this book. The characters are so individual and so beguiling, with beautifully written relationships, and the subject itself is fascinating, especially the way Corey plays it out. I'm definitely suggesting this for book club as soon as it comes out in paperback...which probably won't be until next year. Book club members, don't wait--read it now!

Bravo, Corey!

(I also loved the cover art. I almost never get to say that, unfortunately, but this was just perfect. Read the book. You'll understand.)


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Teen review: LGBT fiction

Refuse
by Elliott DeLine
Stand-alone LGBT fiction, contemporary, biographical-ish
273 pages
Recommended for readers in high school or older

Reviewed by Isabella C. (grade 11)


Refuse follows the story of Dean, a female-to-male (FTM) transgender, simply trying to figure out his own life. When he goes off to college and ends up rooming with another FTM transsexual, his life inevitably gets a little more complicated, especially since he seems to be falling in love with his new, quasi-celebrity roommate--who is currently dating a male-to-female (MTF) transsexual! Dean is depressed and can only seem to find enjoyment in Morrissey (from the Smiths). He is off-putting and sarcastic, wickedly witty, and has no idea how to feel like himself. After all, how would one know how to feel if they don’t even fully know themselves?

The reason I categorized this as “biographical-ish” is because the point of view (POV) within the book ranges from third person, to Dean himself, to Elliott the author. All POVs were entertaining and interesting.

This book was absolutely dripping with angst and dark, cynical humor. It was filled with insight into the LGBT community and the way transgender identity is sometimes, sadly, dismissed. For me, this book was definitely a 5 out of 5. It was deep and emotional while being insightful and critical of the prejudices held within the LGBT community itself. Plus, at 273 pages it’s a pretty quick read. Some of the subject matter, however (such as sex, homophobia, violence against LGBT, suicide, and a hint at rape), is heavy so this book is definitely better for a mature audience. Overall, it was a fantastic read that I highly recommend to anyone interested in LGBT fiction, LGBT authors, and cynical, angsty sarcasm.


Editor's note: We would probably classify this book as most appropriate for "new adults," since the protagonist is 22 years old.


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Teen review: Loved the first one, but...

Stargirl
by Jerry Spinelli
Genre: realistic fiction

Pages: 186
Appropriate for ages 12+

Reviewed by M.S. (grade 11)


A new girl named Stargirl arrives at Mica High School and is able to capture Leo Borlock’s heart with a smile. Everyone finds Stargirl incredibly strange, but then begins to treasure her before growing annoyed with her. Stargirl discusses popularity and what people do for it, as well as first love.

Stargirl is incredibly interesting and plain weird. She is a perfect character who is so complex you want to know as much as you can. It is adorable how Leo falls in love with her and what he does to protect her. It is comforting reading about a weird girl and how it is okay to be different, because I am pretty weird too, and used to be made fun of because of it. I would rate this book a 5.


Love, Stargirl
by Jerry Spinelli
Genre: realistic fiction
Pages: 274
Appropriate for ages 12+

Reviewed by M.S. (grade 11)


Stargirl has left Arizona and her boyfriend, Leo, behind. She has moved to a new neighborhood and makes friends with her neighbors. Over the course of a year, Stargirl writes letters to Leo about what is happening in her life. She hopes he will reply to her countless letters and that when they meet again they can resume their relationship.

Compared to Stargirl, this sequel is boring. I was disappointed by how much I disliked the book, and only finished it because I hoped it would get better, or occasionally thought, “Okay, that part was funny, you get another shot.” There were parts that made me laugh, but overall it was disappointing and in my opinion we would have been better off without this sequel. I would rate this book a 2.