Saturday, February 17, 2018

Lucy and Linh

From the publishers:
Lucy is a bit of a pushover, but she’s ambitious and smart, and she has just received the opportunity of a lifetime: a scholarship to a prestigious school, and a ticket out of her broken-down suburb. Though she’s worried she will stick out like badly cut bangs among the razor-straight students, she is soon welcomed into the Cabinet, the supremely popular trio who wield influence over classmates and teachers alike. 
Linh is blunt, strong-willed, and fearless—everything Lucy once loved about herself. She is also Lucy’s last solid link to her life before private school, but she is growing tired of being eclipsed by the glamour of the Cabinet.
As Lucy floats further away from the world she once knew, her connection to Linh—and to her old life—threatens to snap. Sharp and honest, Alice Pung’s novel examines what it means to grow into the person you want to be without leaving yourself behind.

My thoughts:
For the tween female reader. I was hoping this was more Amy Tan female fire and sassiness and less whiny, colonized, silenced Asian.

This just brought up the bitter taste I had in my mouth when I went to Australia for an education conference and found the Australian national education folks so racist and colonizing even in the 21st century. The whites in charge still feel like their role is to save the Asians through the power of Australian, white education. It made me more sick that the Asian countries around Australia seem to buy into this same attitude. I shutter to think about what is going on with the Aboriginal people in Australia, but what do I know as just another brown educator on a very small island in the middle of the Pacific?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

To All the Boys I've Loved Before

From the publishers:
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them...all at once?

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren't love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she's written. One for every boy she's ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean's love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

My thoughts:
According to the publisher, this is going to be a major motion picture. That does not surprise me. What surprised me is that I made it through. I could not take the main character but I stuck it out because I think there is a middle school reader (female) who will just devour these and feel like there is hope that things will change in high school. 

It is not my cup of tea, but I understand how there is a market for this. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

A Girl Like That

From the publishers:
Sixteen-year-old Zarin Wadia is many things: a bright and vivacious student, an orphan, a risk taker. She’s also the kind of girl that parents warn their kids to stay away from: a troublemaker whose many romances are the subject of endless gossip at school. You don't want to get involved with a girl like that, they say. So how is it that eighteen-year-old Porus Dumasia has only ever had eyes for her? And how did Zarin and Porus end up dead in a car together, crashed on the side of a highway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia? When the religious police arrive on the scene, everything everyone thought they knew about Zarin is questioned. And as her story is pieced together, told through multiple perspectives, it becomes clear that she was far more than just a girl like that. This beautifully written debut novel from Tanaz Bhathena reveals a rich and wonderful new world to readers; tackles complicated issues of race, identity, class, and religion; and paints a portrait of teenage ambition, angst, and alienation that feels both inventive and universal

My thoughts:
Before the reader even gets to know Zarin and Porus, they are dead, their spirits holding on to each other and talking as plainly as if they were taking a ride in his jalopy car about both profound and mundane things. The story of how they got there is slowly revealed in the rest of this novel through the perspective of these two characters but also through other characters and the misconceptions that these characters had or the things that were done. Time is interesting in this novel because it goes both forward and backward. It also deviates from the main characters into side stories that the main characters would never know about. The storytelling was so novel and the culture presented so foreign to me that as I got to know more about this world and these lives, I was hoping for some miracle at the end, but that was not to be.

This is a cultural story as much as it is a love story. It is a story about social mores that are unfamiliar to the American psyche. This is also an immigrant story, perhaps a story similar to our own dreamers. The author, Ms. Bhathena, in her author's note defines this story best:
My own story is different from Zarin's and Mishal's. Yet it does not make their stories any less true, nor does it diminish the reality of living in a world that still defines girls in various ways without letting them define themselves.              This book is a love letter to them all.
Publication date: Feb. 27, 2018

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Holding Up the Universe

My thoughts:
At first I thought this was going to be about Libby, the once fattest teen in America who had to be cut out and crane lifted out of her house. After losing more than half of her 600 lb. weight, she decides leave her house and go to high school for the first time. She has not been to school since she was in elementary. Her ability to survive in school is not what this is about. I think this is more like a Chris Crutcher book, like Whale Talk where Libby is just the character to highlight how messed up other people are even though from the outside there seems to be nothing wrong with them. This is just a reminder there are many ways that teens are asked to "hold up the universe" and as educators and adults and parents, we need to be reminded that there are sometimes deeper issues that are invisible from the outside. Like Jack, perhaps we have our own "face blindness" by seeing traits, actions, attitudes as markers for identity without looking deeper and seeing. 

From the publishers:
Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed "America's Fattest Teen." But no one's taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom's death, she's been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby's ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 
Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he's got swagger, but he's also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can't recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He's the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything in new and bad-ass ways, but he can't understand what's going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don't get too close to anyone. 
Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. . . Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Under a Painted Sky

From the Publishers:
All Samantha wanted was to move back to New York and pursue her music, which was difficult enough being a Chinese girl in Missouri, 1849. Then her fate takes a turn for the worse after a tragic accident leaves her with nothing and she breaks the law in self-defense. With help from Annamae, a runaway slave she met at the scene of her crime, the two flee town for the unknown frontier. 
    But life on the Oregon Trail is unsafe for two girls. Disguised as Sammy and Andy, two boys heading for the California gold rush, each search for a link to their past and struggle to avoid any unwanted attention. Until they merge paths with a band of cowboys turned allies, and Samantha can’t stop herself from falling for one. But the law is closing in on them and new setbacks come each day, and the girls will quickly learn there are not many places one can hide on the open trail.   

My thoughts:
I have been on an Asian character kick so this is the latest YA Asian female character book but this one is pleasantly different. Taking place in 1849, it is more like Mulan meets Huck Finn if Huck were a 15+ year old Chinese girl and Jim was a young slave running away to find her older brother. 


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