Review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

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I’ve heard it said that the entire young adult genre is one big cliche.  Story after story of young people depressed, suicidal, on drugs, bullied or bullying, and so on.  Admittedly, I’ve even thought the same thing myself a time or two.  But books such as this one remind us that there’s a reason these stories continue to be written.

Charlie is a cutter.  Not just your run-of-the-mill-make-a-few-scratches cutter.  She cuts so deeply and so often that little of her skin remains pristine.  And the last time sent her to an inpatient facility for treatment.  Now she’s being released.  Not because she’s been cured, but because there’s no money left to pay for treatment.  If only she could depend on her mom for help, but no.  So she finds herself back out on the streets.  And she’d likely find herself in the same dangerous situation as before if not for the help of one friend who gives her the promise of a fresh start in a fresh place.

If only things were that simple.  Her new life is filled with obstacles she has no idea how to handle.  She doesn’t know how to live on her own, unless it’s on the streets.  She’s never been very good at making and keeping new friends.   And her coping mechanisms leave something to be desired.  When she thinks she finds love, it’s not a good thing.  Because two damaged souls together are destined for trouble.

This book was oh so very good for so very many reasons.  It doesn’t feel preachy or condescending, but instead reads like a true to life tale.  The story alternates in traditional verse and an almost poetic style of writing.  Charlie is so sad and has lived such a hard life. You want her to succeed.  If only you could climb into the pages of the book and hold her hand. One of the best stories I’ve read in a very long time!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Girl in Pieces

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Review: Beware That Girl by Teresa Toten

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Such an intriguing title, and such an ambiguous beginning.  Two girls, both blonde, in a hospital.  One’s in a bed, one is not.  The question is, just which girl is which?

Kate.  Rising up from the ashes, working to better herself, crafting a master plan from day one never to be dissuaded from it.  She’s had a hard life.  Orphaned in theory, dad in prison for killing her mom.  She’s become very good at taking care of herself.  The perfect image is everything, and Kate is very good at it.  When she enters a new school, she sets her eyes on the prize.  She knows exactly who to target.

Olivia.  Poor little rich girl, mom dead, dad loving but always working.  She’s harboring a secret, one that took her away from school for an entire year.  Now back, she’s determined to finish her senior year while at the same time keeping everyone from getting too close.  When she and Kate happen upon each other, they feel like two lost souls destined to become friends.

As the story progresses, we’re left to wonder just who is in charge?  And who is being played?  Sometimes I thought it was Kate, sometimes I thought it was Olivia.  And even after finishing the story I’m not entirely convinced it wasn’t indeed both.

The story switches back and forth between Kate and Olivia, giving each girl her own stage from which to tell their perspective.  And some chapters blend the two combining their stories into one.  This isn’t a distraction and works well.  The author does an excellent job of giving us enough but not giving away too much until the very last pages.  Then it all comes together splendidly.  Still, I’m left wondering if the door remains ajar for a possible sequel?

~Thalia

Buy It Now:  Beware That Girl

 

Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

18460392I’ve read many “Wow” books in my lifetime, a great number of them in the past year alone. So it’s common for me to read a new book that makes me want to recommend it to people, to push it on others even. But when a story still has me thinking about it weeks later, and ALMOST makes me cry, well that’s a pretty big deal.

So where to start with this amazing book? At its very heart, it’s a love story, the story of Theodore Finch and Violet Markey. But love is never easy, and each is dealing with their own issues. Theodore is obsessed with death, and he spends his days thinking of ways to die. Each time, however, life interferes and gives him a reason for living. That “reason”, one day, comes in the form of Violet. She’s grieving the death of her sister. With Theodore’s help, she begins to move on and to actually think of the future. As she’s moving forward, though, Theodore is spiraling downward. Will love be enough to save them both?

This book jumps right in to a very real, very “taboo” subject. Suicide and mental illness in young people are a far too common occurrence, one that is often swept under the rug out of shame or denial. We cannot continue to file it under the category of “normal teenage angst” hoping it will go away by itself. Normal teenage issues do tend to resolve themselves while mental illness does not, often with very real and very tragic consequences.

I still think about this book several weeks after finishing it. It was that good. It’s a story of grief, of hope and resilience. It’s the story of young love and how far it can carry you as well as its limitations. Pick this one up and settle in with a box of Kleenex close by (maybe!).

~Thalia

Buy It Now:All the Bright Places

Review: Breaking Butterflies by M. Anjelais

18523137Breaking Butterflies is one of those books that you can’t put down because you just know something big is going to happen. But in this case the “something big” keeps happening over and over.

Cadence and Sphinx have been connected since before they were born, the result of a lifelong friendship between their mothers. Everything was planned out from childhood. When they would marry, how many kids they would have, even what those kids would be named. But plans go awry when it becomes very clear that something is wrong with Cadence. His golden child persona that the rest of the world sees is covering up something very wrong with his soul, his conscience, his inner being. And Sphinx herself is the object of his desire, the object of his obsession.

This story was both good and bad for me. Good because it kept me intrigued and reading until the very end. The bad for me was the dislike that I increasingly felt for Sphinx as the story progressed. But still, that’s the sign of a well-written story, one that elicits emotion either good or bad. A good read with some interesting twists!

~Thalia

Buy It Now:Breaking Butterflies