Books about teens with mental illness are hit or miss for me. Usually not very good and full of cliches, but every now and then a true keeper comes along. This latest tale from Gae Polisner is definitely one of the latter.
Klee’s had a lot to deal with in his young life. Not only did his dad kill himself, but Klee was the one to find him afterwards. His mom, hoping for a fresh start, uproots them from his beloved New York City. He doesn’t really fit in at his new school and basically resigns himself to just getting by until he graduates and can begin a new life.
But then he meets Sarah. And everything changes. She becomes his reason for being. She’s his polar opposite. And he can’t imagine his life without her. Sarah, however, isn’t as commital. Eventually it all becomes too much for Klee and he makes a desperate attempt to end the pain he’s feeling.
This author does an outstanding job of taking us inside Klee’s head, imagining what he must be thinking and feeling. So much trauma at such a young age…leading up to the incident and his recovery period afterwards.
A word of warning: Although this one is classified as young adult, I’d suggest it for the older end of the spectrum. The message is important but it’s pretty sexually descriptive. An insightful story!
Buy It Now: In Sight of Stars
Within the first few pages of this book, I knew it was going to be a keeper. And then a bit deeper in, I knew that it was going to break my heart.
The story opens with Angie at age 17. She’s thinking of her dad. All she has to hold on to are a few old pictures. No memories because he died before she was born. Or at least that’s what she’s been told by her mom, Marilyn. So Angie is off to find out the truth, whatever that may be.
Marilyn, 18 years earlier…also age 17. She and HER mom are at a crossroads of sorts. Marilyn’s going to be the next big thing in Hollywood, according to her mom. So what if they have to struggle for a bit? And at the moment, that struggle includes moving in with not-so-dear Uncle Woody. The only thing that saves Marilyn is their new neighbor, James. Neither of them is looking for a serious relationship, but what they want doesn’t really matter.
These two perspectives are fleshed out over the remainder of the story until they finally converge at the very end in a dramatic conclusion that you maybe saw coming but not exactly. Both are lost souls searching for something. Both find what they’re looking for in very different yet similar ways.
Ava Dellaira writes one heck of a story. She makes you care about the characters, and her words stay in your soul long after you turn the last pages of the book. Another outstanding tale!
Buy It Now: In Search Of
I hate it when I get a book and then forget about it. I mean, something drew me to that story. But then, something drew me to another story. And then another. And before I knew it, original story was somewhat forgotten. Admit it, you’ve done the same thing. Luckily, though, this one made its way back onto my radar. Because it would have been a shame to miss it.
Emma/Susan has done her time. No matter that she can’t really remember what she did. She was tried and convicted of the most horrific crime imaginable – killing her baby. But now she’s out and trying to build some semblance of a new life. Then the pictures start coming. Somebody is determined to dredge up a past she’d rather not think about. Soon, though, she begins to have doubts. Is her inability to remember that terrible night actually her mind trying to tell her she didn’t do it? As she begins to dig deeper, someone seems determined to stop her. Too many secrets, too many unanswered questions to just let it go.
This is a good story, predictable at times but gripping nonetheless. There were many things I figured out along the way but just as many that threw me for a loop. The ending did become a bit muddled with too many characters doing too many things in an effort to wrap it all up. My fault for rushing to get to the end, I suppose…
Buy It Now: How I Lost You
Most kids want to grow up to be just like their parents. From a very young age, they emulate everything their parents do. Imagine, though, a childhood so sad and traumatic that it leaves you reaching for the exact opposite goal.
Talon has had a rough childhood, to put it mildly. A revolving door of men in her mother’s life has left her scarred in more ways than one. More often than not, Talon has found herself in the role of the parent as drugs and alcohol ruled every aspect of her mother’s life. Now she has a chance to make something of her life. Her love of writing has given her the opportunity to leave her horrid life behind and to actually become something.
But Talon, desperate for approval and love and acceptance and all those other things, finds herself making the same mistakes as her mother. Will she see the error of her ways before it’s too late? And is there any way she and her mom can find their way back to each other?
Lots going on in this story. Typical teen issues, sure. But also some things that no teen should ever experience. Sadly, we all know that Talon’s experiences are all too real. This was a compelling story, one that I really want to end in a happily ever after. But as in life, that’s rarely the case…
Buy It Now: Chalk Houses
Medical mysteries are a dime a dozen these days. Great ones, however, are a different story. Robin Cook is one of the best, a master of the genre.
Boston Memorial Hospital. Noah’s finally achieved his dream of working at this state of the art medical institution. And everything is going his way. He’s busy and has almost no social life to speak of, sure. But he’s rapidly moving up the ranks and earning quite a reputation as a surgeon. And then several unexpected deaths occur. Not under his hand, but when he’s called upon to help investigate these deaths he finds himself right in the thick of it.
Enter Dr. Ava London. The highly regarded anesthesiologist is under suspicion of negligence and must prove her innocence. When Noah becomes involved with Ava, matters definitely become more complicated. As their relationship intensifies, Noah’s suspicions about Ava begin to grow. He starts to question himself. Is he just being paranoid or is she really hiding something?
This story reads like vintage Robin Cook. Medical jargon, secrets, murder, suspense…it’s all there. I did feel like the ending was rushed and left too many unanswered questions. Still, a good one!
Buy It Now: Charlatans
I can honestly say I didn’t see the ending and then the epilogue coming. That doesn’t happen often. I can’t say I was shocked. I just didn’t see it coming.
If I had to find fault there are a couple of points that I think a good editor would correct. They just didn’t make sense. They might be minor details, but still, they were glaringly amiss for me and really bothered me.
However, once I started this novel I had a hard time putting it down. At first I just kept thinking that this would be a great novel for older teens. It would keep them engaged and hopefully some valuable life lessons could be seen. As I read I found myself not even thinking of the audience it could engage, as I was enjoying the novel more than I even expected, despite the couple of flaws that bothered me.
No the characters weren’t perfect. However, what 18 – 20-year-old is? Or, as this novel points out, what adult or parent is for that matter?
I have no problem at all as seeing this as a runaway hit when it’s finally released.
This review pretty much sucks, but in my defence, I’m really still a bit shell-shocked from the ending and I’m not at all sure how I feel about the whole thing…Despite that, I didn’t find it that it was done for shock value. I found it very true to the characters. Yes, both *surprises*…
Until next time…
Buy it now Sad Girls by Lang Leav
ARC provided by Edelweiss for an honest review
I love Kristin Hannah. I gotta admit, though, I wasn’t sure about this one going in. The description made it sound very much like outdoorsy adventuring type stuff. Still, I jumped right in. And I’m glad I did.
Leni and her family are at a crossroads. Her dad, recently back from Vietnam, is suffering from the horrors of his past. Leni’s mom is helpless to do anything to protect them. And Leni, well, she loves her dad. Unconditionally. She remembers the good times. So many of them, in fact, that it’s somewhat easier to overlook the bad times. She and her mom just want to help him forget, to be the person he was before.
It’s no surprise, then, that when her dad comes home one day and says they’re all moving to Alaska that they all willingly go. A new beginning is just what this young family needs. A fresh start away from the pressures of society will be the cure to what ails them. It’s nothing like a cozy family vacation, though. Alaska is tough. And her dad’s demons have made the journey with them. Isolated and alone, who will help Leni and her mother when the darkness in her dad’s mind descends once again?
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this story. I shouldn’t have been, I know. Kristin Hannah just has that brilliance that authors of her calibre do. Grab it, dive right in, and enjoy!
Buy It Now: The Great Alone