Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Whole Thing Together

Volume Thirty Three in the Books That Matter Series

Ray and Sasha have never met but they live in the same house--the same room to be exact. Ray's mom, Lila, used to be married to Sasha's dad, Robert, but that was before they were born, before Lila and Robert married other people. Now the two families are kept apart by the bitter divorce that connects Ray and Sasha to their three half sisters: Emma (the perfectionist), Quinn (everyone's favorite), and Mattie (the beauty). Even their second house in Long Island is kept divided with both families alternating weeks in the summer to live in it, including Ray and Sasha staying in the same room on their separate weeks there. The two families never mix.

But all this separation is about to change when Emma announces her plans to marry her boyfriend, Jamie, next  summer. The two families will have to mix for one wedding so Quinn and Mattie decide to throw an engagement party on August 9--a trial run for the actual wedding. Will this be the thing to bring the two families together or the disaster everyone fears? One thing is for sure, August 9 will be a day none of them will ever forget.

Author Ann Brashares weaves a masterful third person tale into the eye of a storm known as divorce, covering all points of view from the innocent victims who are kept as two separate families due to the bitter resentment of the people who are supposed to be the adults. The Whole Thing Together is a young adult novel that is as beautiful as it is devastating. It is truly a book that matters.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Highly Illogical Behavior

Volume Thirty Two in the Books That Matter Series

"It's like on Star Trek: The Next Generation, really. We're just floating in space trying to figure out what it means to be human."
-Excerpt from Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

Solomon Reed is sixteen years old, a big fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation, likes the water, has a family who loves him, and suffers from a panic disorder that has kept him inside his house for three years--ever since he had an episode that drove him into the fountain at school.

Lisa Praytor has her sights set on the second best college psychology program in the country, but to pay for it, she needs to apply for a full scholarship and write an essay about her personal experience with mental illness. And Lisa knows what--or rather who--she will write about: Solomon Reed, the boy from her school who she hasn't seen since his breakdown at the fountain.

After tracking down Solomon's mom, Lisa finds a way into his life and soon so does her boyfriend, Clark. But as the three of them get closer, things get complicated and life might not be the same as any of them once knew it.

Author, John Corey Whaley, takes readers into the life of an agoraphobic teen and the struggles that come with that. Highly Illogical Behavior is the young adult novel about mental illness, friendship, love, loss, and the unpredictability of life.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Things We Know By Heart

Volume Thirty One in the Books That Matter Series

"'s terrifying to realize how much of your world is wrapped around loving another person."
                                            -Quinn's reflection (Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby)

It has been four hundred days since Trent died. Four hundred days since his organs were removed and given to someone else. Four hundred days after those transplants and his girlfriend, Quinn, has still not heard from the recipient of Trent's heart. Having done some research of her own, Quinn decides to find him herself. But when she meets nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas,the present owner of Trent's heart, everything she thought she wanted to know is about to change.

Things We Know by Heart is the young adult story of grief and love, moving on and letting go. With every chapter opening by means of quotes pertaining to hearts or relevant facts about them (including information on organ transplants, cellular memory, and organ rejection), Jessi Kirby tells a poignant story about one girl's journey for closure in the most masterful way: through the journey of one's heart. Things We Know by Heart is truly a book that matters.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Symptoms of Being Human

Volume Thirty in the Book That Matters Series

"'As for wondering if it's okay to be who you are--that's not a symptom of mental illness. That's a symptom of being a person.'" - Doctor Ann in Jeff Garvin's Symptoms of Being Human

Is Riley a boy or a girl? That question is at the forefront of everyone's mind in Jeff Garvin's young adult novel, Symptoms of Being Human.

Riley is a gender fluid teen with an internal gauge that sometimes points more feminine, other times more masculine, and at times hovers somewhere between the two. The novel is told in first person from Riley's point of view so readers are not aware of the gender assigned to Riley at birth. And as Riley reflects it is usually the first thing people want to know about someone. Even Riley, occasionally, makes mistakes when assigning genders to new people.

This powerful novel shows the struggle of a teen trying to find acceptance in a new high school,  in a home with a conservative congressman father up for reelection and a mother supporting that campaign, in the blogging community where Riley writes under the anonymous name of Alix, in friendships with Bec and Solo, and in one's own self. Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin is a book that matters.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Phantom Limbs

Volume Twenty Nine in the Books That Matter Series

Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner is a tragic young adult novel about three teenagers coping with the pain of all they lost in the past few years. Otis lost his younger brother, Mason, three years ago and hasn't spoken to Meg, his best friend and first love, since she moved away around that same time. Meg has been dealing with a lot since Mason's death and is returning to Willow Grove after years of separating herself from the town and all that happened there. Dara has known Otis since Meg left and is coaching him to become an Olympic swimmer, having lost her chances at achieving that goal when part of her arm was amputated years ago. Each character has their own baggage and their own unique way of getting through each day but all three are dealing with phantom limbs and the pain that comes along with that. Phantom Limbs is beautifully written and so heartbreakingly devastating, earning its place as a book that matters.