Girl In Pieces

Girl in Pieces

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.

Thoughts:

I knew that this book was going to be a heavy reading experience given its subject matter. It was incredibly tricky to read but so beautifully written. I would definitely give it a trigger warning because I can imagine it would affect many people if they have dealt with the issues raised in this book. Kathleen Glasgow’s story is fantastic at representing realistically how tough it is to live with a mental illness. She did give a glimmer of hope for the character, which I appreciated amongst the darkness.

The story centre around Charlie who is in a bad place. She’s only seventeen but has gone through a lot in her life. She self harms with glass to sooth her pain and feel calm. Each time Charlie cuts her heart gets a little harder. Charlie has to go through a lot to get her back to ‘normal.’

Even though this book is marketed at the Young Adult market, it reads like a lot older. I know teenagers/young adults do struggle with their mental health so it’s not the subject matter, it’s the general feel of it and lack of young adults in the story. Charlie is the only young adult in the story! Even the romantic interest is much older than Charlie.

I struggled a little with the pace of this book. I am usually gripped by books about mental health but this one felt like a chore to get through. There were moments of brilliance which I really appreciated and I felt like some phrases were incredibly relatable. I did appreciate how Charlie wasn’t a perfect character. She kept on making terrible decisions. Life wasn’t instantly easy for her and that’s real life. I do think this is a good book and an important story, it’s just not one that particularly stood out for me.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Beautifully written, if a little slow!

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The Names They Gave Us

The Names They Gave Us

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

When it all falls apart, who can you believe in?

Everything is going right for Lucy Hansson, until her mom’s cancer reappears. Just like that, Lucy breaks with all the constants in her life: her do-good boyfriend, her steady faith, even her longtime summer church camp job.

Instead, Lucy lands at a camp for kids who have been through tough times. As a counselor, Lucy is in over her head and longs to be with her parents across the lake. But that’s before she gets to know her coworkers, who are as loving and unafraid as she so desperately wants to be.

It’s not just new friends that Lucy discovers at camp—more than one old secret is revealed along the way. In fact, maybe there’s much more to her family and her faith than Lucy ever realized.

Thoughts:

I am a huge fan of Emery Lord’s writing. I think it’s a lot deeper than you might expect. Nearly every book of hers has broke my heart in one way or another. They’re emotional and character driven. What more could I want?

It centres around Lucy Hansson. Her life has been going well, until her mother’s cancer reappears. Lucy then starts to question everything in her life. She questions her steady faith, her boyfriend who is practically perfect in every way and her long term summer church camp job. Her mother asks her to work at a camp for kids who have been through tough times. Lucy thinks it’s all too much for her, but then she begins to know her coworkers and they help her learn a lot about herself. She learns more about her family and her faith than she ever expected.

There’s something about Emery Lord’s characters that really pull me in. With this story, I was completely rooting for the main character, Lucy, she had such a beautiful relationship with her parents. I loved how even though she had strong faith, it never felt pushed upon you. Instead, Lucy’s faith was never a stereotype that you can quite often see in books involving characters with strong faith. As well as Lucy’s relationship with her parents, the friendships with her coworkers was absolutely heart-warming. Lucy’s character growth throughout this book really is astounding. You can see her changing as the story continues. I loved that she questioned her faith and also that she  realised at times, she prejudged others. She is by far, one of my favourite characters in recent reads.

As usual with an Emery Lord book, it had incredibly diverse characters. There were all different types of representation including sexuality and those suffering with a mental illness. It really was a well thought out, beautifully character driven story.

This story really packed an emotional punch for me. I have read other stories with characters suffering from cancer, but this book was so much more than that. It’ll stay with me for a while!

I don’t often do this, but here are some of my favourite quotes from the story…

“You can be okay again. Just a different kind of okay than before.”
“Hasn’t Daybreak shown me, day after day, that people can outlast unbelievable pain? That human hearts are like noble little ants, able to carry so much more weight than you’d expect.”
“I believe in people. In their resilience, in their goodness.”
“But if I can walk through the fire and, with blistered skin, still have faith in better days? I have to believe that’s good enough.”

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

A stunning read. One I won’t forget in a hurry!

Noah Can’t Even

Noah Can't Even

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Poor Noah Grimes! His father disappeared years ago, his mother’s Beyonce tribute act is an unacceptable embarrassment, and his beloved gran is no longer herself. He only has one friend, Harry, and school is…Well, it’s pure HELL. Why can’t Noah be normal, like everyone else at school? Maybe if he struck up a romantic relationship with someone – maybe Sophie, who is perfect and lovely – he’d be seen in a different light? But Noah’s plans are derailed when Harry kisses him at a party. That’s when things go from bad to utter chaos.

Thoughts:

I can totally see the appeal of this book. I can see that so many people would enjoy it. It’s light, it’s quite fun and it’s about identity/finding yourself. Yet, at some points I found myself rolling my eyes at this book. It felt a little ridiculous. Whilst this might work for some people, it didn’t really work for me, however, something about it kept me reading, so surely that says something?

Our main character, Noah, is having a pretty shocking time. His Dad has disappeared and his Mum constantly embarrasses him. Noah’s Gran has dementia which is getting progressively worse. Noah has Harry though, a wonderful friend who has always been there for him. Noah is desperate to be ‘normal’ like everyone else. He strikes a friendship up with Sophie who he wants more from. If they get together maybe he’d been seen differently by his peers. Noah’s situation gets even worse when Harry kisses him at a party. Noah’s life seems to be spiralling out of control!

This really was a quick read, that didn’t take me long to read. I can see why people have mixed feelings about it. Noah is quite an infuriating character. I found the way he dealt with situations incredibly frustrating. The humour is quite immature and can be a little crude in places. I know I’m not the target audience…maybe others wouldn’t find it as cringy as I did. I have to admit that some moments in this story did make me laugh out loud, so it’s not all negative.

If you’re into a dramatic contemporary read then I’d say to definitely try this book out. There’s so much teen drama to get stuck into (which’ll either suck you in or annoy you!) and a lot going on throughout the story.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!- This book is definitely not for everyone and whilst I found it easy enough to read, it wasn’t a memorable read for me.

I wasn’t the target audience for this book. It didn’t quite sit right with me, but I know others would enjoy it!

I Have No Secrets

I Have No Secrets

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Jemma knows who did the murder. She knows because he told her. And she can’t tell anyone.

Fourteen-year-old Jemma has severe cerebral palsy. Unable to communicate or move, she relies on her family and carer for everything. She has a sharp brain and inquisitive nature, and knows all sorts of things about everyone. But when she is confronted with this terrible secret, she is utterly powerless to do anything. Though that might be about to change…

Thoughts:

I had heard so much about this book before I decided to buy it. So many positive comments from other bloggers. I knew it was something that I’d like. I’m a big fan of a wide range of people being represented in literature, so it made my heart very happy to read a book about a girl with cerebral palsy, even if it was quite the dark read!

The story centres around Jemma who has severe cerebral palsy. She can’t speak or communicate meaning that she relies on her family and her carer for everything. Jemma has a good brain, she can understand everything that is being said to her and she enjoys a mystery. However, one day she is told an awful secret, something that she should tell someone. But she can’t! The story follows Jemma’s struggles with getting the truth out there.

I was absolutely blown away by this book. I loved the character of Jemma. She may not have been able to physically speak but her voice was so strong from the beginning. I loved how she never missed anything that was going on around her. She had such deep thoughts and compassion for others. I also loved how she was always open to possibility. This story, I felt, gave hope to those living with a disability.

I really enjoyed Penny Joelson’s writing style. I thought she very cleverly played with our emotions as a reader. I may not be the target audience for this book (YA) but I thoroughly enjoyed it and I have no doubt that anyone would enjoy picking up this well written story.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A wonderful read from Penny Joelson. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

13 Minutes

13 Minutes

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

I was dead for 13 minutes.

I don’t remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this – it wasn’t an accident and I wasn’t suicidal.

They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I’m sure of it. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t try to kill me. Does it?

Thoughts:

I had heard so much about Sarah Pinborough’s books, especially 13 minutes, so when I came across it on a bookshop crawl recently, I knew I had to pick up a copy. It’s quite a dark, edgy YA read. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

The story starts with a man whose dog discovers a young girl in icy water. The man sees the girl move and is quick to respond with saving the girl. He starts CPR until the emergency services arrive and take over. Luckily, the girl in question- Natasha- is revived. Natasha died for 13 minutes. She has no memory of how she got in the river or has no recollection of anything that happened on the day of the accident. Everyone is talking about what could have happened. Natasha isn’t sure who to trust.

13 Minutes uses several points of view to tell the story. There’s also text messages, police case notes and psychiatrist’s notes. The characters in this story aren’t particularly likeable. Natasha has a little clique who really are quite mean to others. I didn’t trust Natasha’s friends, but as the story progressed I wasn’t sure that I could trust any of the characters. I do love an unreliable character and there were plenty of them in the story.

I really enjoyed Sarah Pinborough’s writing style. She drip fed the details until we finally had a picture of what happened. It certainly kept me turning the pages, eager to find out why Natasha was in the river and who was involved. I loved the author’s portrayal of the toxic female friendships in the story. This book is incredibly intense and worth picking up if you’re into darker YA fiction!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A fabulous, gripping YA read!

Banned Books #40- ttyl

Welcome to this month’s edition of Banned Books. This month we read TTYL by Lauren Myracle.

ttyl (Internet Girls, #1)

Synopsis:

Audacious author Lauren Myracle accomplishes something of a literary miracle in her second young-adult novel, ttyl (Internet instant messaging shorthand for “talk to you later”), as she crafts an epistolary novel entirely out of IM transcripts between three high-school girls.

Far from being precious, the format proves perfect for accurately capturing the sweet histrionics and intimate intricacies of teenage girls. Grownups (and even teenage boys) might feel as if they’ve intercepted a raw feed from Girl Secret Headquarters, as the book’s three protagonists–identified by their screen names “SnowAngel,” “zoegirl,” and “mad maddie”–tough their way through a rough-and-tumble time in high school. Conversations range from the predictable (clothes, the delicate high-school popularity ecosystem, boys, boys in French class, boys in Old Navy commercials, etc.) to the the jarringly explicit (the girls discuss female ejaculation: “some girls really do, tho. i read it in our bodies, ourselves”) and the unintentionally hilarious (Maddie’s IM reduction of the Christian poem “Footprints”–“oh, no, my son. no, no, no. i was carrying u, don’t u c?”).

But Myracle’s triumph in ttyl comes in leveraging the language-stretching idiom of e-mail, text messaging, and IM. Reaching to express themselves, the girls communicate almost as much through punctuation and syntactical quirks as with words: “SnowAngel: ‘cuz–drumroll, please–ROB TYLER is in my french class!!! *breathes deeply, with hand to throbbing bosom* on friday we have to do “une dialogue” together. i get to ask for a bite of his hot dog.'”

Myracle already proved her command of teenage girl-ness with Kissing Kate, but the self-imposed convention of ttyl allows a subtlety that is even more brilliant. Parents might like reading the book just to quantify how out of touch they are, but teens will love the winning, satisfyingly dramatic tale of this tumultuous trio. 

First published: 2004
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2011 (source)
Reasons: offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: If you’ve been following our Banned Books series for a while now, you might remember that I don’t see any reason for a book to be banned outright. Handled delicately in certain situations – yes, of course but banned? Never! Then there’s the other books that pop up on our list where I can see no reason on earth why they should be banned/challenged and ttyl is one of those cases. I don’t remember there being much offensive language to be honest, but if there was it wasn’t overly offensive to me if I didn’t even notice it. Certainly, it’s no worse than what teenagers would hear on a daily basis – at school, on the streets, on the television…need I go on? And excuse me, we are challenging a book for having a religious viewpoint now?! I’m not particularly religious myself but I quite enjoy reading about different religions (especially if it’s done in a non preachy type way) so I could never accept this as a reason for preventing access to a book.

CHRISSI: I don’t agree with any of the reasons for this book being challenged at all. To me, it just read like a realistic conversation between three teenage girls. Challenging it doesn’t sit well with me because it’s completely sending the wrong message. Why should normal teenage conversation be censored? It’s not a surprise to me that teenagers discuss sex and swear a little. As for the religious viewpoint, that’s ridiculous. Religion isn’t a strong topic within this book!

How about now?

BETH: It’s been thirteen years since ttyl was first published and I don’t think attitudes have changed extraordinarily in that time. When I first came to this book I thought the reasons for challenging it would be entirely different and I was surprised to read what they were. I guess because this book is written as a series of messages between a group of friends and a small portion of it is written in “text-speak” or acronyms like ttyl (talk to you later), I assumed that the main complaint would be that it encourages poor communication between teenagers! Imagine my surprise when instead they quote sexual explicitness and inappropriate for age group reasons! I don’t believe that you’re going to find anything in this book that is shocking or not what normal, healthy fifteen year old girls talk about with their close friends.

CHRISSI: No. This book should not be challenged in my opinion. Like Beth, I could understand if there was a problem with communication/text speak as that’s something that does annoy me (not enough to challenge the book!) I actually wondered if it might be about internet safety and that something terrible might have happened (even then those books have a place, an educative place!) but no… it was normal teenagers speaking about normal things in their lives as they grow up.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I have to say, I approached this book with slight trepidation – I wasn’t sure I would enjoy an entire novel written in message format and I definitely wasn’t the target audience for this book! It’s not really for me, to be honest but I can see why teenage girls would love it and I really appreciate the strong female friendships that the author wrote about which are so important in the turbulent time of adolescence.

CHRISSI: I wasn’t a fan of this book. It took me a while to get through and I found it a little bit tedious in places. Remember though, I’m not the target audience for this book. I can totally see why teenagers would enjoy this book though. I love that the characters have such strong friendships. So whilst it wasn’t for me, I’m sure others would love it!

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Probably!

CHRISSI: Yes! (to teenagers)

Moxie

Moxie

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Truth About Alice
Devoted

Synopsis:

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with her high school teachers who think the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mum was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates Moxie, a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond and spread the Moxie message. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realises that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

Thoughts:

I have really enjoyed Jennifer Mathieu’s writing in the past, so I was intrigued to pick up Moxie. Jennifer writes about some quite contentious subjects. This time, it looked like she was tackling feminism and I absolutely loved that. It was more than that though. It was about a girl growing as a person and fighting severe injustice. I love it when people fight against injustice, be it male or female.

Moxie centres around a girl called Vivian who very much just got by at school. She was good, compliant and had a nice group of friends. Vivian was annoyed by the blatant sexism going on at her school. She decided to create a feminist zine to respond to the sexism. She distributed it anonymously to her classmates. Something she’d never have done before. However, Vivian takes a risk and finds it really pays off. She becomes closer to her new friend Lucy and gets to know the new guy at school. The zine has consequences though and Vivian finds herself in a sticky situation that she would have never had previously been in!

I loved that so many people were inspired by Vivian’s actions even though they didn’t know it was her. I think Vivian grew so much in the space of the story and I bloomin’ love character growth. I have to admit to being a little dubious about the prospect of romance in this story. I didn’t want a romance to take away from main story of empowerment. I needn’t have worried though, the romance is sweet and he’s a good guy who doesn’t agree with the sexism.

The strong female relationships in this book just make it such a wonderful read for me. I loved that the girls didn’t delight in tearing each other down. I loved that they found common ground even if they didn’t always necessarily agree with one another.

I highly recommend this book if you’re into strong female characters and a sweet, supportive romance!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars