Review: In Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner

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


Review: This Is Not a Love Letter by Kim Purcell


Teenage love is hard, no doubt.  Surely this is the person you’ll be with for the rest of your life, right?  And there’s no possible way you can live without them, is there?

For young Jessie, it all becomes a bit overwhelming.  Sure, she loves Chris with all her heart.  And she can’t imagine her life without him.  But when things start moving a bit too fast, getting a bit too permanent, she decides to slow it down a bit.  Just a break, she tells, him.  Just one week.  A chance to take a step back and breath for a minute.

And then Chris disappears. And she wants him back.  But it’s too late.  She makes all kinds of promises to herself and everyone else.  If only he’ll come home, things will be different.  She didn’t really want a break.  She’s sorry, she misses him, things will be better than ever.  If only it were that simple.

This story is all kinds of things at once.  It’s a love story, sure.  But it’s also a mystery. Exactly what did happen to Chris?  It’s also an excellent take on teenage issues.  A great read!


Buy It Now:  This Is Not a Love Letter

Review: When I Am Through with You


This one didn’t go anything like I was expecting.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.  However, it does make for a difficult task writing a review without giving too much away.

Teenagers, weekend hike in the mountains, somebody dies.  That’s the story in a nutshell.  There’s a bit more to it, of course.  Ben starts off the story by telling you that he killed someone.  Not just any someone, but his girlfriend while at the same time claiming to love her very much.  Just how and why he killed her remains a mystery for much of the story.  Along the way we’re introduced to a host of other characters with their own bits of intrigue.

While this was a good enough story, I feel like it could have been more.  I somehow felt cheated by the ending as I was expecting something a bit juicier.  Still, it’s suspenseful enough to keep you interested as you wonder just what’s going to happen with this ragtag group of teenagers out in the middle of nowhere.

Read it and let me know what you think!


Buy It Now:  When I Am Through with You

Review: Claiming Noah by Amanda Orlepp


What would you do if you desperately wanted a child but were unable to have one? What lengths would you go to and where would you draw the line?

Catriona and James badly want a baby, James a bit more so. After trying unsuccessfully, they agree to try IVF. And it works. They soon find themselves the parents of a healthy baby boy. Diana and Liam are in the same predicament. They explore many options before eventually settling on embryo donation. And they, too, are successful. Another healthy baby boy.

But Catriona doesn’t find herself easily settling into motherhood. She’s soon in a downward spiral, deep in the throes of postpartum depression. Diana, on the other hand, quickly adjusts to being a mom. All is going well until the day her baby is taken right out from under her.

This story was completely different from what I expected. For that, I give props to whoever wrote the description. There’s not much worse than a book blurb that gives too much away. No such worries with this one. And I’m not going to give anything else away, either, other than to say that there are several juicy little twists and turns on the path to the final conclusion of this story.


Buy It Now:  Claiming Noah

Review: Detached by Christina Kilbourne


There’s  a game my fellow Muses & I like to play from time to time.  We call it “Guess the Muse” and it involves guessing which one of our brilliant reviewers has written a certain review.  Yes, we are that predictable at times.  And I’ve been known to gravitate towards books involving young people facing issues of all kinds.  So for this review,  I’m staying true to form.

Anna is in a very dark place.  She enjoys nothing, feels nothing, even tastes nothing.  Everything in her life is just there.  So she dreams of an escape route, even going so far as to make a list of possible ways to commit suicide.  And she makes a few attempts, although none of them come close to being successful.  Until the very last one.

Depression and suicide in teens are always difficult topics to read about. But they’re   important ones because they’re  very real. This book does a good job of telling the story of one such teen in a way that’s entirely believable. Another aspect of the book that I enjoyed was hearing Anna’s story told from three different perspectives: Anna herself, her mother, and her best friend. It’s a reminder that these are issues that don’t just affect one person but instead everyone around that person.


Buy It Now:  Detached

Review: Cure by Brenda Zalegowski


Warning:   If you are expecting an in-depth review of this book with complete character analysis and a detailed plot summary, you’ve come to the wrong place.  If, however, you’re looking for a simple directive to read an outstanding book, then carry on.

Let me also preface this very short, brief review by saying that you really must read Brenda’s debut novel, Behind the Falls.  Yes, it’s the precursor to this outstanding story.  And no, it’s not imperative to understanding and loving Cure.  But it will help you fall in love with the characters even more.

This is a story of love and loss, things that we are all familiar with.  Love never comes easy, but then most things worth having never do.  And young love, teen love especially, is that much more difficult.  There are tears and there are smiles.  There are lives lost and lives saved.  And there’s closure, of some sort at least.  Yes, you’ll recognize many of the characters from the first story.  And you’ll meet some new ones.

And that’s all you’re going to get.  I’ve never been one to write a synopsis of a story and call it a review, but I do usually give a bit more than you’re getting with this one.  But I just can’t with this one.  You’ll just have to trust me.  Read Behind the Falls.  And then read this one.


Buy It Now:  Cure

Review: Paperweight by Meg Haston


This is a book that has been on my TBR list for a very long while.  Not sure why it sat there, unread and neglected for so long.  As with so many of us readers, surely it was simply a case of “too many books, too little time.”  Still, it caught my eye recently when I was looking for a  possible five-star book to pull me in.  Mission accomplished.

Stevie just has too much going on in her life to be a mere seventeen years old.  Her family is fractured, with mom living abroad after abandoning the family.  Dad has good intentions but finds it hard to manage after the death of Stevie’s brother, Joshua, in a tragic accident.  And Stevie?  She copes by controlling the only thing she can:  what goes into her body.  In the full throes of an eating disorder, she finds herself at a treatment center as her dad struggles to save what’s left of his family.  Rescuing herself is no easy task.  First she has to admit she has a problem.  And at the root of that problem are memories from the past that she’d rather not face.

I loved this story from the beginning until the very end.  It’s a very realistic portrayal of what goes through the mind of someone with an eating disorder.  And the author does an excellent job of giving us a cast of characters who show that there’s no “one size fits all” diagnosis or cure.  An outstanding story about a very serious issue.


Buy It Now:  Paperweight