What a richly woven, compelling story this one was. It starts off with a death, an unexpected one for sure, but still a suspicious death to Shane’s family. From there it spirals into a complex tale of family loyalty, secrets, suspicions, and bonds too strong to be broken. Bouncing back and forth between two time periods, the author gives us a glimpse into the events right before Shane’s death. Because Sadie just can’t let it go, she’s drawn deeper and deeper into a part of her brother’s life that she wasn’t a part of. It’s a mystery, yes, and a bit of a detective story as well. But the story is so well-written, the characters so fully developed, that it reads nothing like the procedural pieces we’ve come to expect from the genre. Definitely five stars!
Buy It Now: The Wolf Wants In
I love Jo Knowles. Some of my favorite books ever were written by her. See You at Harry’s is one I won’t forget, and if you haven’t read it you really should. But this review is about one of her older ones, Pearl.
Pearl and Henry are best friends. One of the things they have in common is the strangeness of their mothers, although they’re nothing alike. Henry’s mother is hugely overweight and doesn’t leave the house. Pearl’s mother is not very involved, to put it mildly. Luckily Pearl has grandfather Gus, the stable force in her life. But then Gus dies. And in addition to being without the only parent she’s really had, Pearl now has to deal with family secrets that she never would have dreamed of.
This won’t go down as one of my favorites from this author. Parts of the story were farfetched. But the brilliant writing style of Knowles more than makes up for that.
Buy it Now: Pearl
I really enjoyed this first book from Kate Bassett. The story centers on Anna, a teenager who is having trouble getting over the death of her beloved uncle a year earlier. She copes by doing daily “coffin yoga”, channeling her inner Patti Smith through both her dress and hairstyle, and writing favorite Patti quotes on her arm every day.
Her family is concerned, to put it mildly, but they have turmoil of their own to cope with. Little sis Bea likes to hide in random places, mom and dad are divorced and dad has a new wife/baby on the way, and Gramps is suddenly on the verge of death himself. Anna’s circle of friends is very small, basically her best friend since early childhood, Nat. Complicating things is the introduction of Mateo, who definitely catches Anna’s eye and rocks her world, almost to the point of being normal.
This is a difficult book to fully describe other than to say that it’s quite an unusual young adult/coming of age book. There’s a love story, but that’s not the central element. It’s more about friendship, family, love gained and lost, and moving on. Five stars for me!
Buy It Now: Words and Their Meanings