So, I tried to post this last week for IMWAYR, but my link was broken, so I’m trying again and have added one or two things.
I read this having never read any of Bosch’s books previously, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I know that my students love the Secret series, and I feel pretty certain they are going to love this one, too, so I’ll be ordering this series. I certainly didn’t feel lost having not read the first in the series; characters were explained, the setting was built nicely and I was completely drawn into the story. Clay is a camper at a special summer camp for kids with special powers called Earth Ranch, where they are trained to use and hone their gifts. Brett is the son of a very wealthy man who owns a cruise ship company, but doesn’t like his son all that much. Their worlds collide when Brett is pushed off the cruise ship when he uncovers a secret and washes ashore on the island where Earth Ranch is located. Clay hides Brett in a nearby cave and begins to work with him to figure out the mystery of the cruise ship and how that is connected to the island and some of the members of Earth Ranch. Plenty of adventure, quirky characters, excellent gadgets and cool dragon lore make their way into the story.
Being an 8th grader is hard enough. Add in your best friend throwing you over for the popular crowd, your mom attempting suicide and now living with your distant father and his young wife and their new baby, and life goes from difficult to nearly unbearable. Anna Collette is dealing with all of these things. Her mother’s suicide attempt has thrown everyone’s life into a tailspin and Anna isn’t sure what to think. She’s mad at her mom, at her dad, and especially at her former best friend, Dani. She mostly retreats into her own head, but a quirky acquaintance from school begins to draw her out and an unexpected weekend away with her stepmom show Anna that other people genuinely care about her. This was an engaging and entertaining read. Anna’s reactions and emotions felt very real, and her inability to see other people reaching out also felt real, her middle-school self-involvement also felt very true to life. She really shows some growth over the course of the year, and her future looks a bit brighter by the end of the story. A worthy selection for any middle-school library.
The plot of this one is a murder-mystery, and a pretty good one at that, but the heart of this story is the friendship between our narrator, Chelsea, and her best friend, Evie. Chelsea describes how Annabel Harper was found murdered pool-side at an exclusive tennis club in Rhode Island and the investigation that follows, as well as the rippling effects the murder had on everyone who was part of the club community. Alternating chapters titled either Before or After describe the events that led up to the murder and the ensuing events as the detective narrows in on his suspect. Chelsea and Evie are determined to find the culprit and they follow the detective everywhere he goes, eavesdropping and speculating along the way. Chelsea also describes the difficult relationship between Evie and her father, a tennis pro at the club, who either ignores her or patronizes her. Chelsea truly becomes Evie only support over the course of the summer, and their friendship is something special. It wouldn’t be a good mystery if there weren’t some twists and turns and surprises, and this one packs a couple doozies. A poignant, engaging read. I’ll be getting this one for my middle schoolers.
A novel written in free verse, the story of conjoined twins Grace and Tippi. Grace is our guide here, telling her side of the story, sharing her innermost thoughts, the ones she doesn’t share with anyone, not her therapist, and not her twin. For the first time in their lives, the girls are going to have to give up homeschooling and go to school. They are both terrified and resigned to what that means: stares, averted eyes, gossip, speculation. Everything that goes with being who they are. Life at home also has it challenges. Their dad has been unemployed for months, (years maybe?) and has taken to drinking the days away, mom works hard and worries even harder. Their younger sister shows promise as a ballerina and has essentially become anorexic in pursuit of her dreams. School turns out to be both better and worse than they thought, finding friends for the first time is pure joy for both of them. But just when things start getting “okay” in one realm, they completely fall apart in another. A beautiful read.
Orpheus Chanson is a “plute” and lives in the world of the one-percenters, where genius talents are provided through surgery, and the only important thing is how much “buzz” can be created and gathered. His father’s company developed the prodigy-making surgeries, aka “ASAs”, and own all creative products of such surgery. Zimri Robinson lives among the rest of the world, known as “plebes” where she spends her days in an Amazon-esque warehouse, running the aisles, gathering stuff that will be shipped off to the plutes. She spends her nights making and sharing her music in underground “speakeasy” type places since she has not had the surgery, and thus is considered off the grid and basically illegal. Their worlds collide when Orpheus growns disaffected with his life, nearly runs down Zimri’s grandmother on the side of the road and stops to help. This dystopian novel doesn’t stray very far from many of the genre tropes, was fairly predictable in plot, but still managed to hold my attention. The writing was fairly crisp, the characters were engaging and I can see plenty of kids enjoying it very much.
What I’m reading now….
Symptoms of Being Human
by Jeff Garvin
A gender-fluid teen starts a blog as a way of self-expression, but finds as the blog grows more popular so does the risk of exposure. I’ve only just begun, but I’m intrigued.