Mid-Winter Break and New Feature!

We will return with new reviews the week of March 6, 2017!

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In the meantime, check out out new Name That Book! feature, where you can share dimly-remembered details of juvenile and YA book and ask for help in locating an actual title and author!

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Love Is One Of The Choices By Norma Klein

Maggie and Caroline: Two young women who must suddenly come to terms with their lives…

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If Norma Klein’s work pushes the envelope farther than her contemporaries when it comes to dealing with social issues, than Love is One of the Choices is the Norma Kleiniest. Published three years after Judy Blume’s Forever, it deals with the same themes, but manages to pull off the feat of making Blume’s book look quaintly old-fashioned and romantic in its depiction of love and sex.

Progressive and problematic, outdated and forward-thinking, Love is One of the Choices is a bundle of contradictions that I dare you to put down once you start. Continue reading

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The Wrong Love By Kathryn Makris

He’s the only one she wants.

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Desperately in search of some light reading, this nonetheless turned out to be a weirdly timely choice: the issue of the economic interdependence of the U.S. and Mexico backgrounds this rather low-stakes teen romance.

Background:  Not to be confused with the similar-looking Sweet Dreams, First Love or Caprice paperback romances of the 1980s, Scholastic’s Wildfire tends to have a better quality of writing (Caroline Cooney and Ann M. Martin are a few of the authors who launched their careers with the imprint) and wackier covers than the competition.

The Plot:  17 year old Sarita Valdez, a teenager living in the border town of McAllen, Texas, is thrilled to have landed a summer job as a waitress at a local café! She explains that since the economic downturn that has hit Mexico recently, people are no longer coming north to spend their money, which badly impacted tourism and local businesses in general in McAllen. Continue reading

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Too Bad About The Haines Girl By Zoa Sherburne

“I’d rather die than hurt you like this. But I’m going to have a baby!”

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The other title referenced by Caitlin Flanagan in her Atlantic hit piece on how YA lit has gone to pot, this one follows the same basic structure as Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones: nice kids from good families go Too Far, leaving the teenage girl in the family way.

While it doesn’t put the parents’ morality on trial as Bo Jo does, Sherburne still has a lot of discontent with the status quo buzzing around the edges, and it sometimes intrudes in ways that make it seem like the book was subjected to heavy editing before publication.

The Plot: 17 year old high school senior Melinda Haines finds herself pregnant in the weeks after she and her steady boyfriend, Jeff, go farther than they intended at an unchaperoned, moonlit lakeside after-party for the school’s Harvest Ball. Continue reading

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

We will return the week of January 16, 2017!

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Couples #18: Kiss and Run By M.E. Cooper

Was their kiss the end of a perfect friendship or the beginning or something special?

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Somehow I failed to notice that I was picking up #18 in a series (I think I assumed that “Couples” was a Scholastic imprint, like Wildfire) so when the author starts throwing a gazillion names at me like I’m supposed to already know who these people are, I was confused. But it turns out this book was pretty terrible anyway, so it doesn’t matter.

The Plot: Five years in Christmas/winter holiday titles are starting to get a little harder to come by (LEAVE SUGGESTIONS IN THE COMMENTS!) so I followed through with this, even though it was painful. Continue reading

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About David By Susan Beth Pfeffer

He didn’t think there was any other way…

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I have not compiled any statistics, but my general impression is that as YA fiction moved out of the 1970s and into the 80s, the subject matter tended less toward shock value (drugs, cults, weird sex stuff) and more towards internal/identity crises of the protagonists.

Coming in with the dawn of the new decade, Pfeffer manages to take in both of these aspects.

The Plot:  Told in the form of 17 year old Lynn’s diary over the course of four months following the murder-suicide of her oldest friend, David Morris, and his parents, Pfeffer chronicles the fall-out among her classmates as they try to go on with their lives and Lynn desperately searches for answers. Continue reading

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