Posts Tagged: Coming of Age

Book Review – Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

September 18, 2014 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2014, YA 4 Comments

Book Review – Wanderlove by Kirsten HubbardWanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on March 13, 2012
Pages: 354
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Travel
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads


two-stars

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists are hardly the key to self-rediscovery.

So when Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspoken sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path. Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel through Mayan villages and remote Belizean islands, they discover they're both seeking to leave behind the old versions of themselves. The secret to escaping the past, Rowan's found, is to keep moving forward. But Bria realizes she can't run forever. At some point, you have to look back.

“See, wanderlust is like itchy feet.” […] “It’s when you can’t settle down. But Wanderlove is much deeper than that… it’s a compulsion. It’s the difference between lust and love.”

Wanderlove is a coming of age story about Bria, an 18 recent high school graduate who is getting over her first bad breakup. Her and her ex had been planning a trip together but after the breakup, she decides it’d still be a good idea to go off by herself to gain some much-needed independence.

So… Wanderlove. Easily one of those books I’ve been wanting to read forever but because of the hype, I had been putting it off. And so two years later, I finally picked it up. Gawd. Was this ever one giant massive disappointment. Baa Baa Black Sheep, I know.

I was initially interested in this because I have a strong desire to travel the world someday, but don’t we all? Given this fantastic opportunity to travel wherever she chose to before going off to college seemed like a dream come true. The one thing I loved about this novel was the vivid descriptions of her surroundings. They definitely made me want to see the sights first-hand. The one thing I did not love was Bria. Bria’s heart was in the right place, having the desire to gain some independence and feel like she could get out into the world and take proper care of herself without anybody else. I could understand and appreciate that need to prove to yourself that you can do it on your own.

The trip started off right, but it slowly morphed into Bria trying to be somebody completely different, somebody that wasn’t even close to her seemingly true personality. It felt out of character despite how little I knew of her as a character. Then issues started coming out about things that she refused to do, primarily swimming, which we’re told had something to do with her ex-boyfriend. I feared the worst, thinking some sort of violence happened to her in the water. No, it was far less dramatic than that.

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There were other major issues I had and most of them had to do with Bria putting her trust into strangers and going off with them into the mountains of Central America without even informing her parents she was leaving her tour group. Now maybe I’m a little hardened having seen Taken one too many times, but that whole situation was a recipe for disaster. Of course, nothing of the sort happened and Liam didn’t need to come save her but the possibility of disaster ruined the whole ‘adventure’ for me. Add to that, as the book progressed it slowly became less about independence and more about the new guy she found.

Overall, I was massively disappointed. I wanted this to be more ‘coming-of-age’ and less ‘romance’ and I definitely wanted to love it like everyone else seems to. Bria’s desire for independence kept me reading in hopes that she’d truly find it but the end result had me wishing I had quit while I was ahead.

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Early Review – Just One Year (Just One Day #2) by Gayle Forman

August 22, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013, YA 4 Comments

I received this book free from First to Read Program in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Just One Year (Just One Day #2) by Gayle FormanJust One Year by Gayle Forman
Series: Just One Day #2
Published by Dutton Children's on October 10th 2013
Pages: 336
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Travel
Format: eARC
Source: First to Read Program
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Just One Day, Just One Night

three-stars

The heartrending conclusion—from Willem’s POV—to the romantic duet of novels that began with Allyson’s story in Just One Day

After spending an amazing day and night together in Paris, Just One Year is Willem’s story, picking up where Just One Day ended. His story of their year of quiet longing and near misses is a perfect counterpoint to Allyson’s own as Willem undergoes a transformative journey, questioning his path, finding love, and ultimately, redefining himself.

 

Just One Day series
Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)

‘It was like she gave me her whole self, and somehow as a result, I gave her more of myself than I ever realized there was to give. But then she was gone. And only after I’d been filled up by her, by that day, did I understand how empty I really was.’

Finally. We have Willem’s story. Just One Day left readers contemplating what possibly could have gone wrong, why he never came back to Allyson and if they were ever going to be able to find each other again. Just One Year possesses the same melancholy feel as its predecessor with Willem stumbling around in an apparent daze, unable to trust the stability of his feelings for Allyson because after all… they only knew each other for a single day.

‘…it’s Lulu I miss, and I know it must be displaced, my loneliness a heat-seeking missile, her the heat. Only I can’t seem to find a new source of heat.’

This is a tough one for me to figure out how I feel about. Willem was a tough nut to crack and I went through the majority of the book not feeling any sort of compassion towards him, no pity for his plight, when I think that would have been the regular response. He gave up his search for her very early on and considering we already know what Allyson went through physically and emotionally makes me sad for her. Willem was convinced to start looking for her again by friends and as much as he kept saying he was still looking for her that whole time, it wasn’t an active search. It felt like he was simply sitting back and waiting for something to happen, for her to find him.

‘The truth and its opposite are flip sides of the same coin.’

Willem’s story became less about their romance and more about him discovering things about himself and becoming a better person because he met her. This is actually what I had originally hoped for her in Just One Day; for Allyson to recognize the incredibly transformed person she had become (and she did) but that even though it resulted from her meeting Willem that she didn’t need him to continue to be as such. Willem found the independence and strength their meeting imbued and used it in a positive manner and while I’m glad at least one of them did this, I never quite liked Willem enough in order to root for him. I never saw what appealed to Allyson and I never understood quite why they transformed each others lives in the first place.

While I’m glad to have the closure of Willem’s side of the story, I still can’t help but feel the ending would have benefited from… more. I needed to see Willem and Allyson’s transformations being applied since we as readers were only afforded a quick glance before reaching the final page.

Just One Year is a tale of transformation, of finding happiness, of finding love and finding yourself.

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Early Review – This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

August 9, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013, YA 5 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila SalesThis Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux (BYR) on September 17th 2013
Pages: 288
Genres: Realistic YA Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads

Also by this author: Once Was a Time

four-half-stars

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

‘…I also felt like an eggshell that had gotten a tiny crack. You can’t repair something like that. All you can do is hope that it sticks together, hope that the crack doesn’t grow until all your insides come spilling right out.’

Elise Dembowski is the unpopular girl in school. She’s that girl that eats her lunch in the bathroom. She’s the one that never gets asked to the school dances. She’s the one that shuffles along silently down the halls, never saying a word, never making eye contact with anyone. The invisible one.

Elise decides she’s going to spend the entire summer leading up to the new school year learning how to be just like all the popular kids so that this year can be different. But it’s not. It ends up being just as disastrous as all others, but everything changes the day she goes home and decides to commit suicide.

“I had once thought that I wanted to get revenge by dying. But getting revenge by living, and living well, was much, much sweeter.”

I love how this book has been the conduit for so many shared personal stories. It resonated deep with me too, so I can’t but share my own tale.

The first half of this book I couldn’t seem to connect with Elise’s story and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. I thought about it, discussed it with others and it finally hit me that the reason was due to how much I could relate and that I was unconsciously trying to emotionally disconnect. While I know I wasn’t the most tortured kid in school, my early school days are not filled with memories that I look back on fondly. I dealt with bullies at the bus stop and being teased for my choice in fashion for years. But what resonated the most with me was that intense desire that Elise had to just be noticed by the popular group of kids. I remember the day the popular group of kids at school finally talked to me, asking me for a quick favor, just to keep something in my backpack for them… saying no never crossed my mind. I remember being called to the principal’s office, having him search my bag and finding pot… apparently my “new friends” had been caught and had quickly decided to pawn it off on someone and I ended up being the perfect one to take the fall.

It took me a long time to understand the full extent of what those girls did to me that day. That incident made me realize that there are some people in this world that may put on a happy face and pretend to be your friend but they don’t have your best interests at heart. They don’t care what happens to you. And they are most certainly not people you want/need to have in your life.

Even if you can’t relate to Elise’s story, I’m sure you’ve known an ‘Elise’ type at some point in your life. But this can truly be a life lesson for everyone, whether you relate or not, because everyone is misjudged at some point in their life. This Song Will Save Your Life is a novel of self-discovery. It’s about finding good people to have in your life that will treat you with kindness and respect. It’s about finding what makes you happy in life. It’s about being shamelessly you… and realizing there isn’t a damn thing wrong with that.

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Early Review – The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls: A Novel by Anton DiSclafani

June 1, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013 2 Comments

I received this book free from Library Thing, the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls: A Novel by Anton DiSclafaniThe Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani
Published by Riverhead on June 4th 2013
Pages: 390
Genres: Contemporary, Historical Fiction
Format: ARC
Source: Library Thing, the Publisher
Amazon
Goodreads


one-star

A lush, sexy, evocative debut novel of family secrets and girls’-school rituals, set in the 1930s South.

It is 1930, the midst of the Great Depression. After her mysterious role in a family tragedy, passionate, strong-willed Thea Atwell, age fifteen, has been cast out of her Florida home, exiled to an equestrienne boarding school for Southern debutantes. High in the Blue Ridge Mountains, with its complex social strata ordered by money, beauty, and girls’ friendships, the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is a far remove from the free-roaming, dreamlike childhood Thea shared with her twin brother on their family’s citrus farm—a world now partially shattered. As Thea grapples with her responsibility for the events of the past year that led her here, she finds herself enmeshed in a new order, one that will change her sense of what is possible for herself, her family, her country.

Weaving provocatively between home and school, the narrative powerfully unfurls the true story behind Thea’s expulsion from her family, but it isn’t long before the mystery of her past is rivaled by the question of how it will shape her future. Part scandalous love story, part heartbreaking family drama, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls is an immersive, transporting page-turner—a vivid, propulsive novel about sex, love, family, money, class, home, and horses, all set against the ominous threat of the Depression—and the major debut of an important new writer.

The authors childhood fondness for horseback riding sets the scene of this story about teenage angst, boarding school drama and a family scandal that changes a girl forever. Thea Atwell has lived with her family on their Florida farm since she was born but after a recent scandal her parents have sent her to The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. The back story slowly unfurls as her time at camp passes.

Going in to this novel I had already seen many rave reviews for it and that it was also on several Summer Reading Lists. It’s quoted as being ‘lush, sexy and evocative‘. Entertainment Weekly says ‘…the lovely descriptions of riding and adolescence have a spellbinding effect.‘ Kirkus Reviews called it “an unusually accomplished and nuanced coming-of-age drama.” Suffice it to say I went into this with extremely high expectations. My overall opinion? This is one terribly dull book that is not helped by the attempts to shock and disgust by the author.

100+ pages in and it’s brought to our attention that 2 months have passed but you could have fooled me considering nothing of consequence had actually occurred. (But honestly, nothing of consequence EVER seems to happen. The entire book.) The majority of those 100+ introductory pages felt like a whole bunch of inconsequential filler. It’s also extremely disjointed and lacks a much needed flow. There’s a dance, then they have riding lessons, and now it’s bath time. It’s never a full day though so it’s difficult to grasp exactly how much time has even passed.

‘I knew what it was like, to love horses. But I also knew what it was like to love humans. I knew what it was like to want, to desire so intensely you were willing to throw everything else into its fire.’

Lines like that if read without context would make me think this was a fascinating book about a headstrong and passionate girl. But the rest of the lines spoke of a girl that wasn’t raised around anyone but family and had terrible trouble adapting with suddenly being shipped off to camp. Thea is a terribly awkward girl that seems extraordinarily confused with life in general and her purpose in it. It was not a joyful story to read about.

The writing was at times extremely well done but as a whole ended up being excessively descriptive and made the story feel long and drawn out. This was an extremely lackluster and disjointed story that only managed to keep me interested enough to find out the ‘scandal’ that caused her to be sent to camp in the first place. The shock factor was there, however, it lacked any significance and essentially ended up being overly superfluous and just left a bad taste in my mouth.

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Early Review – Golden by Jessi Kirby

April 25, 2013 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2013, YA 6 Comments

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Golden by Jessi KirbyGolden by Jessi Kirby
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 13th 2013
Pages: 256
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

Love, tragedy, and mystery converge in this compelling novel from “an author to watch” (Booklist).

Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she’s about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a clue in her lap—one that might be the key to unraveling a town mystery—she decides to take a chance.

Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz are remembered as the golden couple of Summit Lakes High—perfect in every way, meant to be together forever. But Julianna’s journal tells a different story—one of doubts about Shane and a forbidden romance with an older, artistic guy. These are the secrets that were swept away with her the night that Shane’s jeep plunged into an icy river, leaving behind a grieving town and no bodies to bury.

Reading Julianna’s journal gives Parker the courage to start to really live—and it also gives her reasons to question what really happened the night of the accident. Armed with clues from the past, Parker enlists the help of her best friend, Kat, and Trevor, her longtime crush, to track down some leads. The mystery ends up taking Parker places that she never could have imagined. And she soon finds that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference.

“Tell me, what do you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life.”

Parker Frost has always lived her life with the future in mind. She has always studied hard and received good grades in hopes that she can attend Stanford after graduation and become a doctor. There has never been an alternate path for her, no detours or side streets to take, she has only had the one goal. When she stumbles upon an old notebook that sheds light on the town mystery, she thinks she knows the answers but she couldn’t be further from the truth. When this revelation comes to light, Parker starts to wonder what she would do with her one wild and precious life and begins to question if the path she’s on is really the answer.

Life can be so very distracting at times. You can find yourself so caught up in everything when there comes a day you stop and look around and have to truly wonder how you got to that point. Worse, is when you realize you’ve been on the wrong path the entire time. Parker is a strong and vivid character that was incredibly easy to empathize with.

The town mystery felt at first like a separate part of the story entirely except you realize that Parker’s life choices begin reforming as the pieces of the mystery begin coming together, both intertwined. She begins realizing the immensity of making your own life choices because this is your one wild and precious life. You don’t have another.

This was a beautifully written coming-of-age novel about a girl who decides to take chances when she never has before. Golden is an inspiring novel of hope, of not being scared to take the leap, and realizing that not everything is golden.

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Book Tour Review – The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell

January 2, 2013 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2012, TLC Book Tours 1 Comment

I received this book free from TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Tour Review – The Death of Bees by Lisa O’DonnellThe Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell
Published by Harper on January 2nd 2013
Pages: 311
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: TLC Book Tours
Amazon
Goodreads


five-stars

A riveting, brilliantly written debut novel-a coming-of-age story with the strong voice and powerful resonance of Swamplandia! and The Secret Life of Bees—in which two young sisters attempt to hold the world at bay after the mysterious death of their parents.

Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved.

Marnie and her little sister Nelly are on their own now. Only they know what happened to their parents, Izzy and Gene, and they aren’t telling. While life in Glasgow’s Hazlehurst housing estate isn’t grand, they do have each other. Besides, it’s only one year until Marnie will be considered an adult and can legally take care of them both.

As the new year comes and goes, Lennie, the old man next door, realizes that his young neighbors are alone and need his help. Or does he need theirs? But he’s not the only one who suspects something isn’t right. Soon, the sisters’ friends, their other neighbors, the authorities, and even Gene’s nosy drug dealer begin to ask questions. As one lie leads to another, dark secrets about the girls’ family surface, creating complications that threaten to tear them apart.

Written with fierce sympathy and beautiful precision, told in alternating voices, The Death of Bees is an enchanting, grimly comic tale of three lost souls who, unable to answer for themselves, can answer only for each other.

“Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am 15. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved.”

Launching right into the heart of the story, Marnie and Nelly bury their parents in the backyard after their father suffocates and their mothers hangs herself. With both parents gone the girls are left completely alone. Living in the slums of Glasgow, Scotland, Marnie makes a hasty decision to bury them both in the garden in order to avoid being placed into foster care. When Marnie turns 16 she can legally care for her sister so they just need to stay under the radar for one year. But between their curious but concerned neighbor and his inquisitive dog with a penchant for digging in their garden, a drug dealer their father owes money to, and a grandfather that wants to find his daughter their carefully constructed web of lies slowly begins to deteriorate.

Having lived with their parents misconduct their entire lives, finding their dead bodies didn’t have the emotional impact that would be typical for most people. Marnie had already been taking care of her and her sister for years so not having their parents there really wasn’t new. Except they were still there. Kind of. They were just in the garden now, buried under the lavender bushes.

It wasn’t until later that I connected the dots and the references to the sexual abuse from their father. The author manages to indirectly reference the abuse both girls received from their father without going into unnecessary detail but I almost missed it entirely. The only indication given of this abuse was the lasting impacts both girls exhibit (i.e. Marnie’s drinking and drug problems and lack of disregard for sleeping with married men and Nelly’s ongoing night terrors.) Their experiences nevertheless created an unbreakable bond between the girls.

Throughout the story, the reference to people being ‘monsters’ for actions in their life that have inevitably gone on to define them. The elderly gay neighbor Lennie who takes it upon himself to care for the girls when they so desperately needed someone. But due to a past transgression that labeled him a sex offender he becomes identified as a monster. Marnie and Nelly’s parents are more deserving of the label ‘monster’ because of the serious neglect of their children. The girls were forced to grow up at an extremely young age due to their parents terminal absence. Neither girl had anything close to a childhood and it was always a guessing game whether they would come home with groceries or drugs and booze. The children’s grandfather that appears and suddenly wants to be a part of their life to make amends for past wrongs is also deserving of the title. But that’s where the grey area develops: Do the girls actions make them monsters as well? Or is their behavior excusable because of everything they had already been through and what they were trying to avoid? The author doesn’t provide any clear cut answer in determining who is right and who is wrong but it’s safe to say that all characters are at fault in some way.

The style of writing and changes in point of view were brilliant. Each character had their own distinctive voice and their own important story. All points of view were told in first person but Lennie’s was written almost as a letter or diary entries to his deceased lover, Joseph. Nelly is quite the eccentric 12 year-old that is a violin prodigy, has a fondness for old classic movies, and speaks as if, as Lennie put it, “like she swallowed a dictionary”. Marnie, an extremely direct and to the point individual that carries a massive burden which she manages to somewhat hide. It’s obvious that both girls lack necessary help, they just simply don’t know where to look for it.

“What on earth is happening to the bees? They say it is an ecological disaster, an environment holocaust. Every day I wonder what the blazes can be causing this abuse of our ecosystem.” -Nelly

The meaning behind the title eluded me for quite some time and I actually spent several hours pondering its significance. So this is what I came up with, but I could be completely off the mark, I have no idea but it really does seem to have a simple and straight forward meaning. As Nelly stated above, the death of bees is an ecological disaster and an environmental holocaust as bees play a major role and their deaths have a lasting effect. Even though their parents didn’t play a major role in the girls lives, their deaths still managed to make a lasting impact on them.

‘I fear death, I have always feared death. It comes like a gale and never with permission. I would meet it again today.’

‘The Death of Bees’ is gloomy, somber, and brutally realistic but darkly comedic as well. Enthralling and thought-provoking, you’ll find yourselves racing to finish to find out these unforgettable girls’ fate.

dvd-pearl
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Book Review – The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

December 21, 2011 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2011 0 Comments

Book Review – The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey EugenidesThe Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
Published by Farrar Straus and Giroux (BYR) on April 1, 1993
Pages: 260
Genres: Classics, Contemporary
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Amazon
Goodreads


four-stars

 

This beautiful and sad first novel, recently adapted for a major motion picture, tells of a band of teenage sleuths who piece together the story of a twenty-year old family tragedy begun by the youngest daughter’s spectacular demise by self-defenestration, which inaugurates “the year of the suicides.”

 

“With most people,” he said, “suicide is like Russian roulette. Only one chamber has a bullet. With the Lisbon girls, the gun was loaded. A bullet for family abuse. A bullet for genetic predisposition. A bullet for historical malaise. A bullet for inevitable momentum. The other two bullets are impossible to name, but that doesn’t mean the chambers were empty.”

This was a strange read for me, yet still managed to be… I wouldn’t say enjoyable. Maybe intriguing is more like it. This book filled me with major confusion as I had constant questions arise since you don’t get the full picture as this story is told from a third-party, an outside party, rather than being told from the POV of one of the sisters. On top of that, it’s actually told as almost a recollection of people who were affected by these girls and their actions.

I had of course heard of this story over the years but had never managed to pick it up. Never actually watched the film either so I wasn’t completely aware of what to expect. Even know, writing this review several weeks after finishing the book, I’m not sure how to describe how I felt about it. What I remember most is the author’s vivid writing; I will definitely be interested in reading more from him. This was an interesting and thought provoking book but at the same time is a horrible and shocking book that I’m not sure whether or not to recommend. Very sad, very heartbreaking, and one that I certainly won’t be forgetting.

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Short and Sweet Review – Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall

November 29, 2011 Bonnie Book Reviews, Read in 2011, YA 0 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Short and Sweet Review – Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCallUnder the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Published by Tu Books on September 15, 2011
Pages: 225
Genres: Contemporary, Verse
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads


two-half-stars

When Lupita sees Mami crying over a pesky mesquite growing in her rose garden, she knows something is wrong. Through the kitchen window, she overhears that Mami has cancer. After an operation, things seem to return to normal for Lupita and her family, and they go on with their lives, going back and forth between attending school, working, and living in the United States and visiting family and friends in Mexico. However, when Mami’s cancer returns, Papi doesn’t know whether he should accompany Mami during her long convalescence at an out of town cancer clinic or stay home to care for Lupita and her seven brothers and sisters. Suddenly, being a high school student, dealing with difficult friends, starring in the school play, even writing, become less important to Lupita than doing whatever it takes to save Mami’s life.

‘Under the Mesquite’ tells the story of Lupita and her Mexican American family. Lupita struggles with finding her own identity in a new place after her family moves from Mexico to the United States. To make matters worse she has discovered that her mother has cancer and will undergo surgery to hopefully give her more time on this Earth. Desperate to help in any way she can, Lupita takes care of her 7 younger siblings so that her father can take care of her mother. Unable to handle the stress of the situation, Lupita resorts to writing ‘seeking refuse in the healing power of words.’

I picked this book up after finding out that it’s written in free-verse; I’ve been a sucker for any type of book written in that format recently. Getting a few of these types of books under my belt, I’ve never felt that books have suffered from being written in that format. Unfortunately, this was the case here for me. This was an emotional story that could have been extremely heart-wrenching, but I didn’t feel this emotion come through sufficiently for me. It was an emotional-disconnect for me and it should have been the exact opposite.

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Early Review – Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

September 24, 2011 Bonnie Book Reviews, Early Review, Read in 2011, YA 4 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Early Review – Graffiti Moon by Cath CrowleyGraffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
Published by Knopf on February 14, 2012
Pages: 274
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon
Goodreads


four-half-stars

"Let me make it in time. Let me meet Shadow. The guy who paints in the dark. Paints birds trapped on brick walls and people lost in ghost forests. Paints guys with grass growing from their hearts and girls with buzzing lawn mowers."

It’s the end of Year 12. Lucy’s looking for Shadow, the graffiti artist everyone talks about.

His work is all over the city, but he is nowhere.

Ed, the last guy she wants to see at the moment, says he knows where to find him. He takes Lucy on an all-night search to places where Shadow’s thoughts about heartbreak and escape echo around the city walls.

But the one thing Lucy can’t see is the one thing that’s right before her eyes.

Storyline
Lucy has just graduated high school and all she wants to do is find Shadow. Shadow, the graffiti artist who’s been putting his art up all over town. His art makes Lucy think that he’s someone she wants to meet, someone she wants to know, and someone she really wants to connect with. Everyone talks about him but nobody has ever seen him, but Lucy is feeling confident and sets out in search for him one night.

Lucy and Ed
Reading about Lucy and Ed and hearing Lucy gush about Shadow having no idea she was actually talking to me was beyond charming. Those two together were plain adorable and I loved their interactions.

”You know, Leo’s brother’s hooking me up with a car when I get my license. I’m making you get in while it’s moving.”
“You’ll drive me places?”
“If your aerobic fitness is up to it, sure I’ll drive you places.”

Ed is constantly trying to act like he doesn’t like Lucy when in fact he can’t get her off his mind. Lucy can’t seem to make up her mind how she feels about Ed, especially after their disastrous first date from years back. All she can do is continue to talk about Shadow… I couldn’t wait till she finally found out he’d been in front of her the entire time.

‘I stand behind her, watching her watching my work. I feel like I’m shedding skin, feel like if she turns she’ll see a skeleton man behind her and then she’ll know. But she doesn’t.’

Ed was an amazing character. Here’s this kid who dropped out of high school because he has difficulty reading and he started working at a paint store. The girl he broke up with a few months prior was somebody he had really cared for; however, he knew that they didn’t have a future together because of who he is: a nobody. After he loses his job when his boss dies his paintings are all he has left. I couldn’t help feeling incredibly sad for him, wishing that he had more faith in his abilities.

‘But then I think about her finding out I’m Shadow. I think about her being disappointed because I’m a guy going nowhere, not a guy who’s sensitive and smart and funny. I think about her going to college and making glass and me staying where I am spraying walls and scraping rent.’

Friendships
Even though the story was semi-centered around Lucy and Ed, I still managed to grow some fuzzy feelings for the side characters as well. Jazz was great and I loved the relationship between Lucy and Jazz; two people so alike yet still so different.

“You should feel it like a horse tumbling through you,” I said to Jazz.
“You’re weird,” she said, falling asleep. “But that’s okay. It makes me seem normal.”

Wrap Up
I loved this author’s style of writing with her overlapping switch-ups in POV… I’ll be looking for more of her books, most definitely. Not only did it hook me in, but it made me feel. But it’s not all sad… I laughed, I smiled, I sighed. So essentially I hope this review makes at this one reader pick this book up, because it’s truly a great book that is definitely deserving of your time.

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