Pretend you love me by Julie Anne Peters

emptyPretend you love me by Julie Anne Peters

Mike is a small town girl who is the star softball player, works at the hardware store, and is reviving her deceased dad’s plumbing business. Her best friend is the only boy on the cheerleading squad who is also out and proud. Mike very quietly has the hots for the big city girl, Xanadu, who just moved to town. Xanadu has her own secrets and, while she doesn’t seem to like Mike in “that” way, they become close friends fast. It’s also senior year and time for Mike to decide what happens next in her life. She seems to think that staying right where she is will be just fine. But her family, community, and friends would like to see her go farther. Her coaches and neighbors all recognize how hard she works, but Mike’s not willing to be a charity case or anybody’s poster child.

Sounds a bit cheesy but it’s not.

Review by Ms. Rosenkrantz

Carry On: the Rise and Fall of Simon Snow by Rainbow Rowell

carry on

Carry On: the Rise and Fall of Simon Snow by Rainbow Rowell

Rowell’s fans will be thrilled with her latest novel detailing the crazy life of Simon Snow as he tries to finish theWatford School of Magicks, fall in love, and save the world.  Simon and his roommate and arch enemy Baz started off as fictional characters in the writer’s 2013 Fangirl.  Simon, his best friend Penny, his sort-of-ex-girlfriend Agatha and Baz join forces to combat the powerful Humdrum which is trying to steal all the world’s magic.  The story may remind readers of the Harry Potter stories, but Rowell’s twists on the genre and strong characters and setting make this title hard to set aside.  I recommend to fans of fantasy, Harry Potter, romances and Rainbow Rowell.

If you’re an an author geek, here’s an interview with her from Book Expo last June.

fangirl               eleanor and park

Click on the book covers for our reviews of her other books.

The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

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The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

This book takes place entirely in a hospital. A teen who lost his entire family in a car crash has made the hospital his home. He has a job, friends, and regular visiting hours with patients.  All he has to do is keep running from Death and he’ll be fine. His piecemeal life is interrupted by the arrival of another teen who has been bullied and burned over half of his body.

This book has intense relationships and an upbeat tempo, while the entire tale takes place under the cloud of looming Death – literally and metaphorically. It is in a hospital after all. Although the story is unique and well written I actually didn’t like this book, not enough changes in scenery for my taste – but you might!

 

Review by Sarah Rosenkrantz

Gabi A Girl In Pieces by Isabel Quintero

GabiGabi A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

Gabi is a good girl who is questioning the hypocrisy of just what exactly it means to be “good.” In Gabi’s mother’s and Tia’s world her brother can do no wrong (even when he is obviously doing wrong), girls who get pregnant are sluts and always to blame, and being fat makes you destined to be single forever. Except that Gabi knows that none of this is true. She sees right through all the double standards and BS thrown her way. Gabi is smart and articulate, she is a writer and a poet, and she isn’t going to let her dreams die, like going to UC Berkeley, just because her family judges her harshly for her choices.

Written in the form of journal entries, this book is entertaining and heartfelt. It reads like a true-to-life high school experience. Gabi is from Southern California and shares a Latina perspective on growing up and coming of age. There is poetry and letters mixed in, all told in an authentic voice of a girl who is confident and insecure all at the same time.

Review by Sarah Rosenkrantz

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

simon

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

This debut novel is the kind of book that makes the readers fall in love with the characters as they are falling in love with each other.  Simon is a high school junior living outside of Atlanta, Georgia.  He has befriended someone he calls Blue through a local Tumblr feed and they are sympathetic souls, both being young, gay and in the closet.  Unfortunately, he forgets to close his Google Mail on a school computer, and an unscrupulous boy finds it and begins blackmail Simon in order to try to date one of Simon’s good friends.  Simon could care less about himself, but “Blue” also goes to his school and he doesn’t want him to get outed by Martin.  Even though the boys don’t know each other’s real names, they are becoming friends by sharing their deeper secrets, insecurities and fears. The book follows their relationship through their emails, and Simon’s life with his crazy family and best friends.  Neither boy has come out to their family or friends, and the story follows their attempts to do so in two completely different family situations.

Albertalli is also a psychologist who works with teens, and that experience comes through in her realistic characters.  Their actions and conversations feel honest, and I defy anyone not to at least “fall in like” with Simon.  I highly recommend this book to all teen readers.  I started reading it one afternoon and couldn’t put it down until I finished it!

Reviewed by Alex Provence

Trailer by Rachael Schoonaert

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

two boys kissing

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Levithan (Boy Meets Boy) explores the gay community’s history with AIDS, while at the same time telling the story of a number of gay and transgendered teens.  Craig and Harry are trying to break the Guinness World Record for the longest kiss, shocking some of the local community while drawing out crowds of supporters for their 32 hour marathon kiss.  They used to be a couple, but this event is how Craig comes out to his family.  The book also follows the newly dating Avery and Ryan, the longtime couple Peter and Neil, and the self-loathing Cooper, who trolls internet site looking for anonymous hook-ups.  Behind the individual stories is a sort of group narration of gay men from the earlier days, when AIDS was a death sentence and everyone knew someone who had died or was dying from the disease.  They are similar to a Greek chorus, commenting on the stories while giving them some historical background.

I have been a huge David Levithan fan since I read and fell in love with Boy Meets Boy many years ago.  I find these characters engaging and honest, and think readers will, too.  The teen boys grapple with some important issues that are found in the LGBT community as well as with straight teens: honesty, self-esteem, overbearing parents, relationships and more.  The narration may be a bit much for some readers, and does begin to feel a bit “sermony” after awhile.  The book is just wonderful, though, and I recommend it to all teen readers, especially fans of Levithan.

boy meets boy          every day          will grayson

 

Click on the book titles to see our reviews of his other books.

 

 

Lies My Girlfriend Told Me by Julie Anne Peters

lies my girlfriend

Lies My Girlfriend Told Me by Julie Anne Peters

This unusual book begins with the death of Alix’s girlfriend Swanee from a sudden cardiac arrest.  While Alix is devastated, she quickly discovers that she is not the only girlfriend Swanee left behind.  There’s a text on Swanee’s phone from a mysterious L.T., saying  “Please tell me what I did. Please, Swan. Te amo. I love you.”  As Alix slowly starts unraveling Swan’s double life, she meet the other girlfriend, Liana, and they begin a tentative friendship while bonding over Swanee’s death.

I liked this book, especially because it didn’t make the fact that the girls were gay the major theme.  It’s great when authors can explore LGBT characters without making it a typical “coming out” story.  Peters’ writing is honest and realistic; readers will feel like these are girls that could be in their own classes at school.  Readers will appreciate how the three sets of parents react to their daughters, which is anything but stereotypical.   I think fans of Julie Anne Peters and anyone looking for a complex romance story will enjoy this title.

define normal          she loves          by the time you read this