Breaking Beautiful

BB

Title of Book: Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf

GoodReads Rating: 3.96

Summary:

Allie’s life is turned upside down when her very popular boyfriend, Trip, dies in a car accident and she survives. She does not remember anything from that night. In her small town, some people resent her because they wish she had been the one to die instead of Trip. Others think she murdered Trip, especially when she becomes romantically involved with a new boy, Blake. Her only support is her parents and her special needs brother. Was Trip murdered? If so, who did it? This plot is mysterious with several twists and turns.

APA Reference of Book:

Wolf, J. S. (2012). Breaking beautiful. New York, NY: Walker Childrens.

My Impressions: 

I enjoy a good mystery and this one did not disappoint. It had moments of excitement, romance, and terror. However, it avoided the graphic violence that so many young adult novels have today. Some might find Allie’s romantic relationship with Blake to be cheesy; however, I found it charming. The reader is able to see the world from Allie’s perspective as she tries to remember what happened that night. Through seeing her viewpoint, we begin to wonder if some secrets dwell inside Allie, of which she is not aware. We wonder if she is a trustworthy narrator. There are also some shady characters in the town, such as Trip’s parents and friends, who might have had a motivation to kill him. Overall, this is a fun mystery/thriller which I think middle and high schools, especially girls, would enjoy.

Professional Review:

Gr 7 Up–Eighteen-year-old Allie’s life changes in an instant when her boyfriend, Trip Phillips, drives off a cliff in small-town Pacific Cliffs. Allie survives the wreck but wishes her secret would have died with him. She is haunted by the fact that Trip was physically and emotionally abusive. She can’t remember that fatal night but is sure that the incident wasn’t an accident. Maybe her twin brother was trying to protect her from Trip’s abuse, or maybe it was her best friend, Blake. Regardless, the case is reopened as suspicious circumstances begin to emerge, and Allie must relive that night and find the courage to speak up about the abuse even though she fears that no one will believe her. Teens will be consumed by the mystery, and romantics will hope that Allie and Blake can make it even though it seems that the town is against them. The author has done a good job of helping readers understand the accident as it is told in flashbacks yet intertwined with present-day events. The story unfolds in a convincing manner; nothing is left open-ended, which leaves readers sure that Allie is no longer in turmoil, and that she has moved forward.

Alexander, K. (2012). Breaking Beautiful. School Library Journal, 58(3), 178-179.

Library Uses:

This book would be perfect for a high school book club. Assuming the readers agree to read at the same pace (in other words, read ONLY chapter 1-3 for week 1, etc.), they could share their speculations about the plot. Furthermore, they could share these speculations through creating a “suspects” board such as the ones seen on tv crime shows. This would allow a simple art project to be incorporated into this high school book club meetings.

The 5th Wave

5th wave

Title of Book: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

GoodReads Rating: 4.12

Summary:

This young adult science fiction novel is about aliens invading Earth; however, the author handles the subject carefully. Up until the very end of the novel, we are not sure who is an alien and who is not. The chapters alternate narrators from Cassie to Sammy (her little brother), to Ben (her high school crush). Another important character is Evan, Cassie’s mysterious savior.

APA Reference of Book:

Yancey, R. (2013). The 5th wave. New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers.

My Impressions: 

The plot twists in this novel are addicting. Considering I am not usually a fan of science fiction, I loved this book. Although, true science fiction lovers might complain that it does not contain enough science or scenes in outer space. The plot was far more complex than most young adult novels I have read and I fully enjoyed it. It ended on a cliff hanger, so I am eager to read the other books in the series.

Professional Review:

Gr 9 Up–Cassie travels with just the essentials. First on the list: Luger, M-16, ammo, Bowie knife. Incidentals like food, water, sleeping bag, and nail clippers come further down. A nondescript 16-year-old, she is one of the very few people left alive on Earth. Aliens sent waves of destructive forces to eradicate humans: Cassie’s family survived the 1st and 2nd Waves. Her mother died in the 3rd Wave (Pestilence) and her father in the 4th (Silencers). Her little brother may still be alive; he may even be safe in a military compound, as Cassie deals with the 5th Wave- a carefully orchestrated survival dance of kill or be killed. The aliens are never described in detail, and their reasons for wanting the humans gone are not clear. But they are ruthless and determined, and their methods for gaining control mean readers will never again see owls as the friendly, mail-delivering avians portrayed in the world of Harry Potter. The compelling story is told from the viewpoints of Cassie and Ben, who is now a soldier known as Zombie. Cassie crushed on Ben at school, but he never particularly noticed her. Now he has transformed from handsome high school sports star to focused paramilitary killer. Yancey’s story is full of violent twists and turns, but character development continues along with nonstop action. Cassie and Ben grow out of high school self-centeredness and find leadership qualities. Cassie’s interactions with an alien elevate him from a one-dimensional “bad guy” role. While the big body counts (billions die) happen largely offscreen, there are numerous more personal instances in which teens are both killers and killed. The ending has enough planned loose ends to practically guarantee a sequel.

Knapp, M. (2013). The 5th wave. School Library Journal, 59(4), 175.

Library Uses:

Since this novel was recently made into a film, it could be included in a display of young adult books that have been adapted for the screen. Librarians could encourage teens to read the book before seeing the film, and then encourage discussions comparing the book and film.

Speak

Speak

Title of Book: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

GoodReads Rating: 3.99

Summary:

This novel follows a year in the life of, specifically the internal conflict of, a 9th-grade rape victim. The book does not shy away from the difficult emotions the victim, Melinda, struggles with or her changes in behavior. For example, the author details her struggles with passing her classes, making friends, her relationship with her parents, but also highlights her one and only outlet – art class.

APA Reference of Book:

Anderson, L. H. (1999). Speak. New York, NY: Puffin.

My Impressions: 

I found this novel to be a powerful read because it addresses a difficult topic with sensitivity. The rape scene itself is rather vague compared to other young adult books published today. The reader does not need graphic details because we have an imagination. Furthermore, I think this book is an excellent example of realistic fiction because at the end of the book, Melinda is learning to find her voice again, stand up for herself, and have hope for her own future. Although it is an emotionally difficult book to read, by the end, the reader has hope too, which is crucial.

Professional Review:

Gr 8 Up –This powerful novel deals with a difficult yet important topic-rape. Melinda is just starting high school. It should be one of the greatest times in her life, but instead of enjoying herself, she is an outcast. She has been marked as the girl who called the police to break up the big end-of-the-summer party, and all the kids are angry at her. Even her closest friends have pulled away. No one knows why she made the call, and even Melinda can’t really articulate what happened. As the school year goes on, her grades plummet and she withdraws into herself to the point that she’s barely speaking. Her only refuge is her art class, where she learns to find ways to express some of her feelings. As her freshman year comes to an end, Melinda finally comes to terms with what happened to her-she was raped at that party by an upperclassman who is still taunting her at school. When he tries again, she finds her voice, and her classmates realize the truth. The healing process will take time, but Melinda no longer has to deal with it alone. Anderson expresses the emotions and the struggles of teenagers perfectly. Melinda’s pain is palpable, and readers will totally empathize with her. This is a compelling book, with sharp, crisp writing that draws readers in, engulfing them in the story.

Sherman, D. (1999). Grades 5 & up: Fiction. School Library Journal, 45(10), 144.

Library Uses:

This book should be included in a list of books for reluctant readers. At 208 pages, it is brief compared to other young adult books, which is an attractive feature for reluctant readers. In addition, it addresses a difficult topic which, unfortunately, is relatable to many teen readers. Even if they have not had the experience the protagonist had, chances are they know someone who has and this book might help them better understand that person’s internal conflict.