Monday, June 27, 2016

The Art of Being Normal

Volume Twenty in the Books That Matter Series

Fourteen year old David Piper has only ever had one wish: to be a girl. Fifteen year old Leo Denton is about to start a new school and just wants to be blend into the crowd and be left alone. But when their worlds collide in the school cafeteria, it becomes clear that Leo will not get his wish.

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson is a must read book. I found it tucked away on the bottom shelf of the young adult section at a fairly new independent bookstore. All I could see was the spine. Between the title and the tiny bit of design, I fished the book out away from the others and read the jacket description. I had not heard about it before but I instantly knew I wanted to read it. I bought it Saturday afternoon. I was in the middle of another book, but by Saturday night, I decided I couldn't wait to read it. Within twenty four hours, I had finished it. I didn't want to put it down.

These characters will stay with you after the book is over. David and Leo were instantly likeable. They face insurmountable struggles that are both sad for the reader and devastating for the character. But there are also positive moments that shine through, including some excellent British humor. The Art of Being Normal should be in every bookstore, library, and school. It is truly a book that matters and has the makings for a modern classic.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Season of You and Me

Volume Nineteen in the Books That Matter Series

The Season of You and Me is a young adult love story. Two teenagers meet on a beach, one in a car and the other with her bike. Their encounter is brief but then they meet up again at a summer camp where they will both be working. Sounds like a classic boy meets girl romance. Only, the girl is spending the summer at her father's bed & breakfast, trying to escape a bad break-up back home. And the guy, he is paralyzed.

Bryan, a former surfer, had an accident a year and a half ago that left him in a wheelchair and he is just getting back to work at the summer camp. Parents have concerns about whether he will be up for the physical demands of camp but Bryan doesn't let that stop him. He refuses to let anything hold him back, except when it comes to surfing. Despite the encouragement of his friends, Bryan has not surfed since the accident and doesn't want to talk about making the adjustments that would be needed to make it happen.

Cassidy 's boyfriend has cheated on her and her answer is to flee for the summer. Leaving her mom and Nan, Cassidy moves in with her father, step-mother, and half-brother.  When school starts again, her ex-boyfriend will be away at college and she won't have to see him again. Running sounds like the perfect plan...until it isn't.

The Season of You and Me by Robin Constantine is an alternating point of view novel of two teenagers falling in love and helping one another heal from the things that hurt and scare them the most. It is certainly a book that matters.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Volume Eighteen in the Books that Matter Series

Junior year is tough: what with schoolwork, friendships, family, and extracurricular activities. No one knows this better than Simon Spier who is trying to juggle school, his diverse group of co-ed friends, his interesting family, and the demands of the upcoming drama production. But Simon has more than just all of this going on. He is being blackmailed by Martin Addison, one of the theater students who has read Simon's personal email when he forgets to log out at school. Martin wants to date one of Simon's friends. In exchange, he won't tell anyone Simon's secret. Simon Spier is gay. And Martin has screenshots of Simon's personal emails to prove it. If he doesn't help Martin, soon his correspondences with another gay student, who uses the name Blue in his emails, might become public. And neither Simon nor Blue have come out yet.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is thought-provoking, funny in parts, and poignant throughout. Simon is likable and it is easy to feel sorry for him as events spin out of his control. Author, Becky Albertalli, does an amazing job with her characters. Each one has a unique voice and style that is true to teenagers.

This young adult novel is the story of a gay teenager in Georgia, not ready to out himself to the public. And why should he? Because as it is stated in the email correspondence between Simon and Blue, why is that everyone isn't expected to come out-- whether straight, gay, or bi? It is the Homo Sapiens Agenda against Simon. And that is precisely why Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a book that matters.