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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Up In Seth’s Room By Norma Fox Mazer

How can she convince him to wait until they are both ready?

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Norma Mazer (arguably the more famous half of the YA Mazers) output was at its height during the 1970s and 80s, primetime for dealing with sex, drugs, terrible parents and other difficult situations. In comparison to some of her other work, this one is less weird and salacious, although the heroine’s attempts to assert her own personality and preferences wear pretty well 35+ years later.

The Plot: 15 year old Finn Rousseau has been playing peacemaker in her working-class Syracuse, NY family ever since her older sister Maggie moved out to “shack up” with her boyfriend, much to their parents’ disapproval. While they haven’t outright forbidden Finn to see her sister, they both constantly bemoan the fact that Maggie is bringing disgrace upon their family. Continue reading

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Wrapping Up The Imaginary Summer Book Club: Carrie By Stephen King

(Click here for information on the 2016 edition of Molly’s Imaginary Summer Book Club Featuring Classics of Women’s Literature. As all of the four selected titles have filmed adaptations, we will be looking at the movie versions as we go along. This month, the September selection, Stephen King’s Carrie.)

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So, to wrap up the season (only a few weeks past Halloween!), we end with a book so well-known, I hardly feel like it needs a plot summary, having been the subject of innumerable adaptations, homages, parodies and general cultural references in the 40+ years since its publication. Briefly: the late onset of puberty for 16 year old outcast Carrie White coincides with the latest, and most vicious, instance of locker-room bullying, as well as a sudden uptick in her latent telekinetic powers. In the wake of this incident, more malicious teenaged pathology (and a few misplaced good intentions) result in Carrie using her newly discovered powers to burn the place to the ground. Continue reading

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Polly French of Whitford High (#1) By Francine Lewis

Never before in her fourteen lively years had Polly French found herself in a predicament as delicious and ticklish as this one.

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And in the third and final entry in our annual look at Whitman hardcovers, I give you the first volume of four in the Polly French series.  And, constant readers, it’s not good.

The Plot: The perils of these shorter-lived Whitman series is that they tend to fizzle out for a reason: two-dimensional characters, meandering plots, ponderous prose. Polly French has all of these problems in spades.

I don’t even know where to start. There is a stolen circus horse. There are mysterious hobo-tunnels under an abandoned house. There is a student body election that the ENTIRE TOWN seems way too involved in. Continue reading

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Donna Parker In Hollywood (#5) By Marcia Martin

“So this is California!” Donna thought. Pools, studios, celebrities, blue skies! And, for a girl on her first trip west, more excitement, more fun than seemed possible.

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In our second installment of our 2016 Salute To Whitman Hardcovers, we again pick up with the extremely pleasant Donna Parker series.

Background: When last we left 14 year old Donna and her BFF Ricky West they had over the course of a 6-month period restored the faith in humanity of a disposed French count (and earned an electric sewing machine for doing so!); won a scholastic journalism award and thwarted a group of communist spies; and kept house while Donna’s parents set off on a whirlwind tour of Europe and India and dealt with some pretty heavy issues including dead parents, poverty in the suburbs and snobbery in the other suburbs. More strictly serialized than most contemporary girls’ series, Donna is at last ready to take her long-promised trip to California to visit her formerly long-lost uncle Roger and his wife, Summerfield Junior High’s former Journalism teacher.

The Plot:  The Parker family, Joyce Davenport, and Popular Square Dancing RichardPaul are all absent from this adventure, as Donna finally heads for the west coast for a long-promised visit with her Uncle Roger and Aunt Adele. Ricky West (“called Fredericka only by her mother”) (who you may remember is now tragically dead) makes a cameo appearance on the ride to the airport, having to turn down an invitation to accompany Donna: Continue reading

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