Monday, August 17, 2009

Inexcusable by Chris Lynch

Inexcusable by Chris Lynch, 2007 Paperback 7.99 978-1416939726

Keir is convinced he is a good guy. Most of the town is convinced as well despite a list of inappropriate and vicious behavior that Keir and the town laugh off as youthful high spirits. Keir is accused of date rape by Gigi. In the end, this story told in the first person by Keir, ends with the realization that Keir is indeed a rapist, although it is unclear if Keir, who ends up almost catatonic at the end accepts responsibility. Despite an impressive string of reviews, I found this book to be self- aggrandizing and so morally ambiguous as to leave me wondering at the end if Keir would ever accept responsibility for anything. I can see where Lynch was heading with this one, but he didn't get there for me.
It could work for your most advanced HS readers.

Review by Ann Morgester Library Curriculum Coordinator, Anchorage School District

Boy Kills Man by Matt Whyman

Boy Kills Man by Matt Wyman, 2006 Harper Teen (no longer in print)

12 year old boys are made into disposable assassins in Medellin, Colombia. It ends badly for everyone except the Ghost (drug lord). What a sad and depressing little book. I don’t see anything redeeming about it. Not recomended for school libraries.

Review by Ann Morgester Library Curriculum Coordinator, Anchorage School District

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Winter Girls: Laurie Halse Anderson

This was a really hard book for me to read. Lia has been best friends with Cassie for years. They share a lot - including their anorexia. After they have a falling out and don't speak for several months, Lia receives 33 calls from Cassie in one weekend. But she is still mad and so she doesn't answer the phone. Cassie is then found dead in a hotel room. When Lia plays the voice messages from the calls it is just heartbreaking. Lia is also on a downward spiral and there is real question throughout the book if she can save herself.

Anderson uses a number of interesting techniques in this book; strikethroughs, italics, and offsets to illustrate Lia's state of mind (see video of Laurie Halse Anderson talking about Wintergirls ) This is a harsh book that pulls no punches about the effects of Anorexia on the body. Lia's brain is starving and it is clear that this is part of what keeps the spiral going. There has been some concern that this book may "glamorize" or "teach" anorexia. There is an interesting NYT article on the topic. Eating disorders is a difficult topic to write about but Anderson does it with her usual style and grace. I highly recommend this book for HS.

Review by Ann Morgester Library Curriculum Coordinator, Anchorage School District

Monday, August 3, 2009

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

Twisted Laurie Halse Anderson 978-0142411841 9.99 2007 Viking Pub.

Laurie Halse Anderson doesn’t pick easy topics to write about. From the story of a high school girl who is silent and hides in the janitor’s closet because she has to face the boy who raped her every day at school (Speak) to living through a yellow fever epidemic (Fever 1793) to Twisted, she tackles difficult topics with authentic teen voices. In Twisted, Tyler is a social misfit who is treated as a “problem” so not surprisingly, he acts out. He makes a poor decision and in learning to accept the consequences for his actions he must make decisions about what kind of person he will choose to become. Tyler’s family is emotionally unstable and it is reflected in his own actions. This book deals candidly with the issues of integrity, emotional abuse, self-identity, rage, and violence. At one point, Tyler smashes his father’s train set up. “The temporary rivets holding me together loosened, glowing hot under the pressure that prevented me from turning the bat on my father.....I hit the train table harder so I wouldn’t hit him.” The explosion of violence culminates his decision to choose who he will become, rather than accepting others expectations and perceptions of him. He chooses to make his own decisions rather than to allow himself to continue to twist under other peoples toxic opinions. Tyler’s humor, though increasingly dark throughout the book, and his very realistic voice made me cheer for him all the way through. Highly recommended for High School.

Ann Morgester, Library Curriculum Coordinator, Anchorage School District