Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Liar, Liar by Gary Paulsen

Liar, Liar: The Theory, Practice and Destructive Properties of DeceptionI found this book at my local library on a recommended reading shelf, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Kevin is in the eighth grade and doesn't understand how anything positive results from honesty. Consequently, he's perfected the art of lying. One day, he notices the beautiful Tina and decides to devise a plan to make her see that he's perfect boyfriend material. His plan involves a lot of lying to a lot of people. It's not exactly foreshadowing to see that all of his lies will come back to haunt him in the future.

This book is a quick-read, and it's humorous. Kevin is a great character, and it's fun to see him try to manipulate people into doing the things he wants. His thinking is often illogical, but that's what makes him interesting. It doesn't make sense that he thinks he can skip four of his classes for a whole week without consequences. Teen readers should enjoy the book.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

The House on Mango StreetThis book is on the 2013-2014 BOB list, and I gave it a rating of three out of five. It follows the life of Esperanza Cordero as her family moves from an apartment into a rundown neighborhood. The house isn't what she expected, she doesn't really have any good friends, and there are people with questionable characters living nearby. Esperanza gains some control in her life as she gets older, and she hopes to overcome the challenges in her neighborhood to create a better life.

In the introduction, the author stated that she thought this book would become a memoir, but it didn't. It doesn't really have a flowing plot; each chapter describes a different event, place, or character. A strength of the book is the poetic flow of words the author uses to describe things. There are many types of figurative and sensory language as she paints a picture of her life on Mango Street.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Wanting Mor by Rukhsana Khan

Wanting MorThis book is a fictional account of true events, and I gave it a rating of three out of five. Jameela lives in Afghanistan with her father and ailing mother. Her mother dies, and her father decides to move them to Kabul for a better life. However, her father is addicted to drugs and alcohol, and he makes some questionable decisions. Jameela is left stranded in the city, and she's taken in by an orphanage. She's embarrassed by her cleft lip, but she has faith in her Muslim religion. Her life in the war-torn country brings challenges, but will the orphanage be able to fill the emptiness left by her father?

Jameela is a strong, female character, and her religious faith provides her with the strength to survive. Readers can learn a great deal about the Afghani culture through this book, and the plot is more compelling when you remember that many of the events in the plot actually happened. The vocabulary contains a great deal of cultural words, and it was a little distracting at times. The book contains a glossary at the back.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going

Fat Kid Rules the WorldThis book may be on the new BOB list, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Troy is seventeen and weighs three-hundred pounds, and he's considering taking his own life by stepping in front of a subway train. Then, Curt enters his life. Curt is a legendary high school dropout who also happens to be a local legend in the punk rock scene. Curt informs Troy that he's going to be the drummer in his new punk band, even though Troy hasn't played since seventh grade and was terrible back then. Curt comes and goes throughout the book like a dirty, skinny, drugged-up whirlwind. Troy starts to find hope in his own life, but he worries about Curt. Troy's life may be saved, but will it cost Curt his own?

First off, the book has a great deal of profanity. It fits the culture of the characters, but it may offend some readers. Curt is a very interesting, complex character who manages to inspire Troy even as his own life seems a mess. Curt has a simple outlook about life and a gift for playing the guitar. However, he's irresponsible and frequently disappoints Troy. I enjoyed how Troy persevered and gained confidence, but the plot carried him through many highs and lows.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies by Allen Zadoff

My Life, the Theater, and Other TragediesThis book was on the new-release shelf at the public library, and I gave it a rating of four out of five. Adam is in high school, and he decides that the best way to survive is to stay in the shadows. He does everything he can to remain unnoticed. After his father died and his brother went away to college, Adam gets into being a theater techie, but he likes sitting up in the rafters working the lights. A new female actress catches his eye, but an unwritten theater rule keeps techies from interacting with the performers. Adam can't stop thinking about her, the student director seems to have it out for him, and he's having trouble dealing with his father's death. His mom isn't much help, his brother won't return his phone calls, and his best friend doesn't seem to understand. What's a guy supposed to do?

The book is probably PG with some suggestive parts included. The author did a great job of capturing the emotional issues of adolescent boys who aren't jocks or super popular. I enjoyed Adam's mixture of humor, confusion, caring, and dedication to the show. The character interaction kept my interest, and it was nice to see an underdog come out ahead. The climax was kind of cool and unexpected.