Review: Just Lucky by Melanie Florence

I’ve been accused by some of being overly generous with my five-star ratings. What can I say? If a book grabs me enough to keep me reading, not wanting to put the book down, picking it up as soon as I wake up in the morning, then I deem it worthy of five stars.

Lucky has a somewhat untraditional family. Her mom skipped out on her when she was very young, but she has the love of her grandparents as they raise her. All that changes, however, when her grandpa dies and grandma is no longer able to live alone. Lucky finds herself in the foster care system. She just tries to survive, knowing that each home she lands in is only temporary.

This was a great little book. I say little because I finished it in less than one day. It’s a quick, easy read that’s well-suited for younger and older adults alike.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Just Lucky

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Review: My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal

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I’ve been thinking for several days about how to review this book.  It’s not that it isn’t good, which it is.  It’s just one of those stories that is hard to describe, hard to recommend to people without giving away too much of the story.

Leon’s life has not been easy.  His mom is an addict, and his dad is in prison.  But still, he’s a good kid. He helps his mom out more than a child should, especially when it comes to taking care of his baby brother.  That’s not enough to keep them out of trouble, though. When his mom finally gives in to her demons, Leon and Jake find themselves taken away and placed into a foster home.

As foster homes go, it’s a good one.  Maureen is kind and caring even at her advanced age.  Leon would probably be happy staying with her indefinitely.  There’s a little hitch in that plan, however.  Baby Jake is adopted, and Leon finds himself missing his brother terribly.  And when Maureen gets sick, things go from bad to worse.  He’s determined to find his brother, and he becomes angry when he can’t.

Set in the late 70s/early 80s, the story mirrors the racial unrest of the time.  As a black child with a white brother, Leon knows that things are different for him.  He just can’t understand why.  It’s a sad story, makes your heart hurt for a child to go through so much. Quick and easy to read, hard to forget.

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  My Name is Leon

Review: Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

20140302-140802.jpgI don’t even know where to begin with this one. Counting by 7s was recommended by a friend several weeks ago, and I dutifully added it to my ever-growing but never-diminishing TBR list. Didn’t give it any more thought. Then, several days ago, I was browsing my list and it caught my eye. I went back and read some of the reviews and decided, why not? Now I’m wondering why I waited so long and why everyone isn’t praising this book from the top of every roof.

Willow Chance has always been an unusual child, but that suits her just fine. She adores her parents, and they adore her. She rarely even thinks about the fact that she’s adopted. She loves her books, her garden, and her current obsession with medical conditions. A highly gifted child, she’s never really fit in at school. The teachers just don’t understand her. When she’s accused of cheating on a test, her punishment is meeting with the school counselor. It’s at this point that her comfortable little world comes crashing down when her parents are killed in an automobile accident. What follows is Willow’s journey to find her place in a strange, unfamiliar world all the while relying on the help of strangers.

Written in the same line of thinking as Wonder and Out of My Mind, this book had me hooked from the first sentence. My heart was aching for Willow and the sorrow she had to go through. At the same time, I was filled with admiration for this little girl who persevered in spite of such insurmountable odds. The other characters in this book are no less important and just as enjoyable. I especially loved the transformation of the characters during the course of the story, all because of the impact of one very special little girl. A gruff, lackadaisical school counselor finds himself actually caring. A juvenile delinquent teenage boy begins to find his passion in things other than criminal endeavors. And a misfit group of strangers begins to band together to form a ragtag sort of family. This is the kind of story that will make you laugh at Willow’s quirky sense of humor one minute while crying with heartache for her at the next. This one needs to be at the top of the list for readers both young and old!

~Thalia

Buy it now: Counting by 7s