OCD, The Dude, and Me by Lauren Roedy Vaughn | Book Review

OCD, The Dude and MeBook Title/Author: OCD, The Dude, and Me by Lauren Roedy Vaughn
Publisher/Year
:
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: No
Other Books From Author: None — debut novel!

Amazon| Goodreads |

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!

 

 

 

Danielle just doesn’t fit in — not even at her alternative school that she attends — thanks to her social anxieties and her OCD. She navigates school friendless, crushing on the most popular in school from afar and laying down the sarcasm and brutally honest truth — especially in her school essays. These writings end up getting Danielle a trip to the school psychologist and spot in a Social Skills class. As she prepares for the school trip to London that she doesn’t want to go on and fulfills her requirements for her Social Skills class, she can feel the walls starting to come down and she’ll start to remember why they were put up in the first place.

OCD, The Dude, and Me was one of those books that genuinely surprised me as I had heard NOTHING about it when I read it. I’m not sure  that is going to be widely received and wildly popular but I think that it is going to be one of those gems for the people who really connect with it and appreciate something a little quirky that’s equally funny as it is poignant and heartbreaking. It charmed the pants right off me and was a very refreshing story in the contemporary YA genre.

The storytelling is definitely going to be a factor for your enjoyment, I think, but I personally LOVED IT. The whole book is told in a smattering of journal entries, essays for school, emails and letters. The main character, Danielle, definitely writes what comes to her mind and is even scolded for this informal, somewhat inappropriate style of writing of her assigned essays — though the teacher at her alternative school likes the overall ideas of what she writes. And, guys, Danielle is FUNNY. She says things that are just so honest and real and I laughed so often reading this book. Her comments are seriously just honest and entertaining– especially the comments she makes about the grades she’s given on her papers that her teacher critiques. She has a definite voice in everything she writes and I just loved it because sometimes it was so simply stated yet really profound. I could see other people not connecting with her which will also really determine how much you like this book –it’s very much character driven. I totally couldn’t get enough of her voice and the quirky yet brutally honest way she sees the world.

I can’t comment on the treatment of OCD because it’s not really something I feel confident as any sort of type of authority but Danielle’s OCD seems to really be triggered by an event that happened in her life which eventually comes out at the end. The OCD part didn’t seem as prominent in the way I thought it would and it manifested itself in different ways than I’m used to seeing or hearing about but I know OCDs are different for everybody. It FELT like it was handled rather sensitively but humorously and I found that to work for me. I really enjoyed watching her work through it all with her writing and the relationships she ends up making and the ones she already has that she really relies on — Daniel (aww!), the cute old British lady, her aunt,  etc.

My only thing I think is that honestly the relevance of The Big Lebowski in this book is going to be lost on a LOT of teens but was something I appreciated as a fan of the movie and as a 27 year old.

OCD, The Dude, and Me by Lauren Roedy Vaughn was definitely enjoyable, funny and unexpected. I recommend to somebody looking for something a little different and bursting with a lot of heart and pages of thought-provoking truths from a very quirky and memorable main character that really came to life. It’s definitely a character driven novel and I honestly know it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but it was certainly mine because it was just an absolute gem. I really wish it got a little bit more buzz amongst bloggers this year!

 

OCD-the-dude-and-me

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one?? Heard of it? If you’ve read it, did you enjoy it? How did you think about how the big secret was revealed? I didn’t even guess. Did you like the format of this book with all the letters and emails and journals, etc.

 

 

Top Ten 2013 YA Debut Novels I’m Looking Forward To!

toptentuesssTop Ten Tuesday, as  always, is hosted at my other blog — The Broke & the Bookish

This week’s topic:

Top Ten 2013 YA Debut Books I’m Looking Forward To!

 

top YA debuts 2013

1. Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza:  I plan on starting this soon but it sounds like an amazing science fiction novel about a girl who find out she’s not actually human but an experiment of artificial intelligence. (Add To Goodreads | Pre-Order)
2. The Rules For Disappearing by Ashley Elston: This was one of my Catalog Creepin’ picks for Disney Hyperion and I’m excited because I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of the Witness Protection program and the MC’s family has been placed in it and she has no idea as to the reason why. (Add To Goodreads | Pre-Order)
3. Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland: I love a good beach read and this is one of my #1′s for summer 2013!  Set during the summer the MC, Cricket, experiences a tragedy that changes her life and has her working instead of having the perfect summer she’s imagined. She never expected that she’d fall in love either with someone she isn’t supposed to. (Add To Goodreads | Pre-Order)
4. The Ward by Jordana Frankel: I can’t but help being excited about  post-apocalyptic sorts of books and this debut looks so thrilling that I did a happy dance when it showed up in my mailbox this week. The premise is that Manhattan is underwater and people are becoming ill because of pollution. The MC accepts an offer from the government to go in search of a freshwater source and learns the situation in the Ward may not be exactly how it seems. (Add To Goodreads | Pre-Order)

Must Read Teen Books 2013

5. The Ruining by Anna Collomore: I love a good psychological thriller and this seems intense and mysterious! (Add To Goodreads | Pre-Order)
6. How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski: I have been pining for this book every since I saw it! I think my initial thought was “I wish I had the balls to set an ex’s car on fire” but this book seriously looks like an awesome contemp! And UM a road trip? Total win if you know me! (Add To Goodreads | Pre-Order)
7. The Theory of Everything by Kari Luna: This cover drew me in initially and then I read the synopsis and was sold. It honestly just seems so whimsical and quirky and why it definitely was a book I picked out as I creeped the Penguin 2013 Spring/Summer Catalog. (Add To Goodreads | Pre-Order)
8. Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith: I am not normally a gal swayed by author blurbs on a book but when I saw this blurbed by Gayle Forman in the HarperTeen Spring/Summer 2013 catalog I knew this book had to be mine.  So excited to read this one!  And I love the cover! (Add To Goodreads | Pre-Order)

2013 teen books

9. Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley: When I originally saw the cover for this I though it was paranormal so I was pleasantly surprised when I found it was contemporary psychological mystery. It sounds like an  intense page-turner! (Add To Goodreads | Pre-Order)
10. The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher: Though I was not bullied in high school, I find myself drawn to books that delve into bullying to some degree because of what a sad reality it is these days. In this novel, the main character’s best friend gets bullied, her reputation is tarnished and then she commits suicide. The MC then feels like she owes it to her friend to find out just who hurt her enough to make her not want to live. (Add To Goodreads | Pre-Order)

Bonus Titles (Because I hate limiting this to ten):

anticipated-YA-books-2013

Ones I’ve already read that would be on this list: Level 2 by Lenore Applehans, The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shephard

So tell me…are you excited about any of these 2013 debuts?  Have you read any of them? Which ones aren’t on my list  but you think  I might like/should check out?

Review: Skinny by Donna Cooner

Book Title/Author: Skinny by Donna Cooner

Publisher/Year: Scholastic 2012
Genre: YA Contemporary
Series: No.
Other Books From Author: The World God Made (children’s picture book)

Amazon| Goodreads |Donna Cooner’s Website

 

 

 

Ever is a fifteen year old girl who weighs over 300 pounds. She’s the girl who can’t fit in the desk at school or who can hear her thighs rubbing together. She already knows what everybody thinks of her — her dad, his wife, her stepsisters, the kids at school and her childhood crush — because of the voice, Skinny, who lives in Ever’s head telling her just how disgusted people are with her. After an incident at school Ever decides she is going to undergo gastric bypass surgery so that she can get rid of Skinny for good and become healthier, show everyone how talented of a singer she is in the school musical and get her childhood friend and crush, Chase, to look at her the same way again. The one constant who has been with her through it all has been her friend Rat who helps Ever try to change her life after the surgery.

I’m not going to lie — I didn’t know what to expect with this one but I’m so glad I read it. Even if you haven’t struggled with weight to the extent that Ever has, I feel like it’s not hard to relate to this novel. I was afraid that I wasn’t going to be able to connect with Ever at first but I quickly realized I could. My struggle with weight was different (I was too skinny and got made fun of for that  up until high school where I become a little more normal weight) but I still agonized over my body. Every day. I saw all the flaws. I can’t imagine what Ever must have gone through. But mostly what I most related to was that voice of Skinny inside Ever’s head. The one telling you that you weren’t smart enough, not pretty enough, not cool enough, not talented enough. It just made me really connect with Ever because I know how unwavering and unrelenting that voice can be. I was really happy I connected with her because it made me super invested in her journey.

Ever was an interesting character. You easily could feel bad for her because of how she got made fun of and because of things that happened but at the same time there were points were I didn’t at all. There were times when I just wanted to smack her and be like OMG ARE YOU BLIND?? As a reader you could see just how much “Skinny” had made her bitter and disillusioned and even selfish. You’ll feel frustrated with her sometimes but I think we all can relate to her to some degree. There were moments of definite heartbreak for me — the school assembly scene or just even the moments when she realized how much her life was going to change post-surgery. I rooted for her through it all — that she’d lose weight, that she’d get the guy, that she’d make real friends and show everyone her amazing voice. As an aside, I LOVED the characters of Rat and Briella!

Her journey — both physical and mental — after the surgery was one that I was so invested in. While it may seem like a dream come true to lose all that weight, there were a lot of things that she had to give up and it was hard. I appreciated that Skinny just didn’t “go away” — that she had to realize that as much as this process was physical it was also even MORE mental than anything. You really grow to love Ever and how she starts to reveal her true self — the one that we saw a little bit through her old memories and some of her humorous commentary. There are still moments in her journey where you know she’s not quite there mentally because she is caring too much about the physical changes and all that it has brought her. It truly was a battle and I didn’t want to put the book down. Sometimes I think it did ring a bit predictable and follow the type of teen makeover story you see in so many movies but it was super compelling nonetheless.

My one qualm with Skinny by Diana Cooner was that, while it didn’t portray this surgery as this magical and easy solution because she clearly had to work at it, I just struggled that it seemed like it was her first real solution. The book talks about how she had tried to lose weight but, to me at least, it just felt like it was some half-hearted attempts rather than really seeking some HUGE lifestyle revamp with the help of professionals and work at it consistently. Maybe that’s just me but that’s the impression I got from where she was at up until the event that led to her getting the surgery — eating bad food, eating big portions, no exercising, just really being content with herself. I wanted some other options more explored. I just don’t want teens to think that it’s the BETTER option than exercise and diet/lifestyle changes that should be really the first thing you try. Obviously that might not work for all but this is such a SERIOUS and extreme surgery so I was kind of hoping that it would talk more about the root of her issues too (obviously her grief was a large part of it & then it just spiraled into an emotional coping mechanism). Especially with her being so young.

Skinny by Donna Cooner was a really good read dealing with self image and that nagging voice inside of your head that whispers all of the things that makes you self conscious or feel like you aren’t good enough through the story of Ever — an extremely overweight teenager who undergoes gastric bypass surgery. Ever is easy to connect with in her highs and lows and I found myself easily immersed  in her journey. I do have some reservations with how she so quickly went to gastric bypass and how her situation is portrayed (explained above) but ultimately it was a really good read with a main character dealing with something that I haven’t encountered too often.

 

You May Also Like: She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb; Food, Girls & Other Things I Can’t Have by Allen Zadoff, Teenage Waistland by Lisa Pazer

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think if you have read it? Did you connect with Ever? Did you find that you wished that they would have explored her other options or address the emotional component to the reason why she became that obese like I did?

Review: By The Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead by Julie Ann Peters

YA books about bullying & SuicideBook Title/Author: By The Time You Read This  I’ll Be Dead by Julie Ann Peters
Publisher/Year: Hyperion 2010
Genre: YA Contemporary
Topics: Bullying, Suicide
Series: No.
Other Books From Author: She Loves You, She Loves You Not.., Between Mom & Jo, Rage: A Love Story, Luna, Keeping You A Secret & more.

Amazon| Goodreads |Julie Ann Peter’s website

 

 

 

 

 

Daelyn is ready to end it all. She’s tried to commit suicide before and she’s failed which has only made things worse for her — everyone thinks she’s a freak and her parents won’t let her out of their sight. This time she’s found a website that will help her in her efforts but only if she’s serious. She’s also found herself spending a lot of time in the forums on this website where she reads about other people’s experiences and why they want to commit suicide and posts her own thoughts. She’s happy when nobody talks to her and doesn’t have to interact with people  so when a boy named Santana starts hanging around her after school it gets under her skin and throws her for a loop since she wasn’t expecting on making any friends knowing that she plans on killing herself.

This book pretty much threw it’s metaphorical hand out of the book and ripped through my body and just squeezed the hell out of my heart. Oh man. It was really heavy and made me so incredibly sad for anybody — especially the young people — who are contemplating suicide or who have endured horrible bullying or just any sort of horrible thing that they’ve kept to themselves that’s made them want to end their life. I seriously can’t even explain how hard my heart ached for Daelyn and people in situations like her.

The way Julie Ann Peters unravels Daelyn’s history of being bullied was just completely effective. When my heart didn’t think it could break any more from hearing how she was bullied, it would start to break even more with the stories she’d reveal — the fat camp, how nobody would listen to her, the bathroom scene at school. I could honestly see why things were so hard for her. It was so painful to read it and to think that this kind of stuff happens in real life. I think Julie Ann Peters gave such an authentic look into the mind of a girl who just grew weary of being bullied, of having nobody listen to her and of trying to make it through every day. She was drained. I quite enjoyed Daelyn’s voice — she was kind of snarky and called it like it was. Obviously I’d wish anyone to choose to live but I found myself really rooting hard for her to find her way through it. I connected with her in the moments when she allowed us to see HER; not the Daelyn who has given up.

Each chapter is a countdown and gives the number of days she has left — a number generated by the website. As every day got closer and closer to the day she was supposed to complete I was reading even more anxiously to find out if she was going to actually go through with it or if she would find some glimmer of hope that would make her change her mind — maybe Santana and his story would, his friendship, or when the music teacher sticks up for her in a way. So many things made me think that maybe she’d find what little bit of hope and strength she could from the good.  I loved when Santana enters the picture and I’m happy that the author didn’t go in the direction I thought it could go in terms of a romance suddenly make everything better. Santana was so full of life despite the heavy stuff he was facing and was so determined to live which was a real contrast to Daelyn and how numb she was.

The ending totally wasn’t what I was expecting. I don’t want to give it away. I still don’t know how I feel about it but I think it was actually kind of perfect in a way and not necessarily in a pretty little bow.

By The Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead is a heavy, heavy book dealing with bullying and suicide in a really powerful way. It weighed heavy on my heart for a while. I felt like it was such a raw and honest portrayal of a subject that is so delicate yet so prevalent in our society. I’ve read books dealing with these subjects before and sometimes they feel really contrived or less than authentic. This just felt really superior to a lot of them in authenticity and emotion as it never felt contrived nor was Daelyn made to be this poor, poor pitiful me character. Daelyn’s voice is just unshakeable and Santana is unforgettable. I was pleasantly surprised by this one. Hard to say that I LIKED it because of the nature of the topic but I was really moved by it and it caused me to think.

 

You May Also Like: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford, Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

 

Let’s Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think if you have read it? What other books have you read that deal with bullying & suicide? If you did read it what were your thoughts on that ending?

Review: Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Book Title/Author: Sweethearts by Sara Zarr
Publisher/Year: Little Brown 2008
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: No.
Other Books From Author: How To Save A Life, Story Of A Girl, Once Was Lost

Amazon| Goodreads |Sara Zarr’s Website

Got this little beaut at the library!

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Harris used to be THAT girl in school — the one that always got made fun of and who was a complete social outcast. Her best friend, Cameron, was her one and only friend in school so when Cameron disappears randomly so does the old Jennifer. Fast forward a little bit and once social outcast Jennifer is now pretty and popular, well-liked Jenna who has a boyfriend — something she thought she’d never have.  On the outside she may have changed but on the inside she still hurts from Cameron’s disappearance so when Cameron mysteriously reappears in her life it hits her hard and she has a hard time reconciling her old self that Cameron knew versus who she has become.

I am definitely a new found Sara Zarr fan! This was just straight-up excellent contemporary YA. It’s not flashy or trying too hard — it’s incredibly authentic and sweet yet tells the really heartbreaking story of two friends who share a whole lot more than just your typical elementary bffs type memories.

I instantly fell in love with Jennifer and also Cameron. Their relationship as kids was just so beautiful and pure — they had a friendship that was so strong because everyone else rejected them. I felt so badly for them but loved that they had each other. And when the book fast forwards to “Jenna” I really loved her too. Zarr really wrote her in a way that you could totally understand her desire to change who she was and get a fresh start but you could feel that deep conflict in her soul where Jennifer and Jenna warred — with Cameron, who accepted Jennifer, being at the heart of it. Zarr creates some really well developed characters in this novel that felt incredibly realistic. And Cameron’s story — so sad!

The thing I loved MOST about this book was that it was a book about friendship — true friendship. Two incredibly broken people who could find solace and love in each other when they were young and again when they found each other again. I truly thought this book would be a sweet little romance and that’s not at all what I got. I feel I got something way more. It didn’t have that forced romance plot and I loved that. Their friendship ran so deep and they shared that secret and I just felt how hard it was for each one of them to deal with it on their own so when they came together again Sara Zarr just created this intense feeling of longing, confusion and unfinished business. There were so many things that were left unsaid with the two of them and I loved how you could just feel the intensity of it.

I’ll say that I personally thought the ending was quite fitting. I felt hopeful and just sad to see their story end. The ending actually did kind of surprise me just because I totally thought I’d predicted what was going to happen. I know a lot of people were wanting more resolution but I was fine without everything all tied up neatly in a bow for this story.

After only one Sara Zarr book I know I’ll be racing back to my library to pick up all of her books because she is a force to be reckoned with in the contemporary YA world. This story of a beautiful friendship was unexpected for me and touched me more deeply than I realized until I was done. The characters were just incredible & the way Sara Zarr unraveled this story and their secret  from the beginning to end was perfect.

 

For Fans Of: Sarah Dessen, Elizabeth Scott, Sarah Ockler

 

Let’s Talky Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think if you have read it? Were you satisfied with the ending or were you wishing for more resolution? Have you read any of Sara Zarr’s other novels? Which was your favorite?

YA’s Got Talent!

I’ve always been super envious of all those people who were so talented — mostly people in the performing arts realm but also other things (sports, writing, etc). Probably because I am the opposite of talented in these areas.

I can’t sing — seriously it’s a whole hot mess of screeching and off key madness that is reserved for my shower and my car when I’m alone. And unfortunately sometimes when Will’s around and I swear he must be deaf by now. I took tap and jazz class when I was little and I was GOOD but not good enough long term to get on all the super competitive dance teams. I hated practicing. I can’t play an instrument unless you count the clarinet that I terribly squeaked Ode To Joy out of over and over again in the 5th grade. I had one drum lesson and got frustrated. I”m just not very talented except in my dreams or maybe in the shower when I pretend that when I sing Someone Like You that I actually sound like Adele.

I think that’s maybe why I love watching shows like The Voice and America’s Got Talent — I love watching that talent. I’ve noticed I’m also really drawn to stories about characters who are really super talented when it comes to the performing arts! There’s SO many great novels out there and I love learning about all the work that it takes to MAKE it at that level of talent and all the sacrifices they have to make to pursue their passions.

So if you also enjoy this type of story, I wanted to share some of MY favorite books that deal with talented performers or ones that are on my TBR LIST! This is not by any means a complete list; just ones that I’ve read or that are on my radar.

PLEASE RECOMMEND ME MORE! I need to live vicariously through talented characters in books! Click on the book covers to learn more about each book!

 

Virtuosity by Jessica MartinezTake A bow by Elizabeth Eulberg

Amplified by Tara Kelly

 

Pop Princess by Rachel Cohn

Rival by Sara Bennet WealerBunheads by Sophie FlackAudition by Stasia Ward KehoeA Company of Swans by Eva IbbotsonIf I Stay & Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Books Listed:

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez
Take A Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg
Amplified by Tara Kelly
Pop Princess by Rachel Cohn
Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer
Bunheads by Sophie Flack
Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe
A Company of Swans by Eva Ibbotson
If I Stay & Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Have you read any of these? Any on your TBR list? ALSO, please recommend anymore books in this vein!

Review Of Over You by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus

Book Title/Author: Over You by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
Publisher/Year: : HarperTeen September 2012
Genre: Contemporary YA
Series: No!
Other Books From Author: The Nanny Diaries, Between You And Me, Nanny Returns, Citizen Girl, DedicationThe Real Real

Amazon| Goodreads

The Story

A fool proof plan to get over the jerk boyfriend who dumped you? That’s exactly what Max, a seventeen year old girl who survived a nasty break-up herself, offers her clients — a step by step program to get over the guy and get BEYOND it and make him wishing HE could have you back. She’s got the steps down and she customizes them to each girl — she’s even got scientific data to boot to back up what she’s doing. But when the girl who can handle everyone else’s heartbreak is reunited with her ex it become the ultimate test of whether or not SHE has passed her own program.

What I Thought:

When I saw that the authors of The Nanny Diaries were coming out with a YA novel that looked just as fun as The Nanny Diaries I was super excited. When I think of really light and pure fun chick-lit I automatically think of that book when I read it back in the day! I decided I’d save it for my honeymoon because it seemed like the ultimate beach read with it’s premise and totally cute cover!!

So once I found myself at our resort, I began to forget about all my pre-wedding stress and immersed myself into this book (along with many a fruity adult beverage)! I will say that it was the perfect honeymoon read for me — it was pretty light, a quick read and absolute fun! I read it in a whole day lounging poolside. Many drinks later. Exhibit A:

It wasn’t exactly incredible writing (some poorly executed 3rd person actually = confusing at times & a lil’ awkward) nor did I find the characters to be super original or well fleshed out — not going to lie. I didn’t quite understand how a seventeen with no other job actually funded all of the THINGS she did to help the girls get over their exes.  But it was just plain old fun. I can’t deny it. I mean, as a girl who was dumped once by a boy I thought I’d marry some day and who was my best friend, I could completely relate to the crazy stupid things that the girls were doing — crying in bed, smelling a scent of the ex and becoming a blubbering pile of patheticness or trying to call them and ask WHY. I could laugh, I could relate, I felt some girl power in wanting to make your ex wish he never did it. LOOK AT ME NOW, FOOL! I would have DIED for a version of Max’s plan in that fateful senior year when my heart was ripped out.

I think that I DID relate with Max though I wished she had been a better character. I heard many people’s complaints were with her and (SOMEWHAT SPOILERY) how the whole Hugo debacle have happened and she was a hypocrite but I felt like that made her relatable. I don’t know how many times I had given advice about “how to get over a break-up” or something else when I really didn’t have my crap together. You WANT to think that you are over them and past it but sometimes you aren’t. She was throwing herself into other people’s broken hearts rather than dealing with her own — which is so much easier and I could relate and thus didn’t think Max was a horrible character. I understood it. It’s way harder to deal with yourself — which is why tons of people get all up in other people’s BIZ  and give opinions because they don’t want to face their own problems.

 

My Final Thought

Over You was the ultimate beach read for me on my honeymoon! I devoured it as quickly as I was sucking down those post-wedding margaritas and daiquiris. It was fun and just what I needed after a long year of stress. Was it spectacular writing? No sir. Was it completely earth shattering? No ma’am. But it was one of those fun, quick reads — despite the flaws I mentioned in the review portion –  that didn’t require TOO much thinking but was SO relatable and funny at times…says the girl who swore she would never love again or ever get out of bed or ever smile because of a broken heart in the 12th grade. It’s just fun with touches of serious notes that most ladies can relate to.

 

For Fans Of: A more light and “fluffy” read, YA chick lit,

Teen Book Review Blog - Over You

 

Let’s Talky Talk: Have you read this one? Heard of it? What did you think if you have read it? Tell me your worst breakup story!

Review of Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

Book Title/Author: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Publisher/Year: : Little Brown Books For Young Readers
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Series: No – standalone!
Other Books From AuthorFixing Delilah, Bittersweet & out in May 2013 — The Book of Broken Hearts

Amazon| Goodreads | Sarah Ockler’s Website

Every girl dreams of their first real romance. When Anna finally experiences this she is dying to tell her best friend Frankie. Only problem is that her new boyfriend is Frankie’s brother. A tragedy occurs before Anna and Matt can tell Frankie the truth and Anna keeps the truth hidden from everyone — especially Frankie. A year later, Anna is still holding on to her lost romance with Matt and Frankie decides that Anna is in need of a summer romance. Whilst on their summer vacation together at Zanzibar Bay, Frankie plots that for every day they are there (20) they will have a competition to see who can snag a new guy each day. Under the weight of her secret, Anna halfheartedly agrees to go along with the plan though conflicted with being true to her love for Matt.

I got interested in this book back when the whole Scroggins-was-a-douche-and-tried-to-ban-this-book-without-reading it drama llama happened. I procured a copy and so it has sat on my shelf like a lot of other books I really want to read. So this summer, as part of  my Read Backlisted Books Plan, I decided to read it. So take that Scroggins, your stupid little tirade made a lot more people interested in this book. SUCKER.

Seeing as though it was part of a banning debacle, I kept WAITING for something “bad”  or “edgy”. I was waiting. And I just didn’t really understand why this was being challenged at all. Ok, so teens drink sometimes (a pretty minimal part in this book)?? Shocking. And they sometimes have sex (SAFE SEX with a condom in this novel) and think they want to lose their V card? Really? And this is different from what teens are experiencing for real in their high schools? Different from things they are seeing on tv and the movies?  I don’t know. I’m not seeing why it’s so dirty and filthy.

I thought Twenty Boy Summer was so powerful — no light, fluffy beach reading here. That grief just gnaws at your heart throughout the book — just as you see it doing to Anna (and Frankie too obviously). The general grief and pain, Anna’s secret, the what could have beens, etc. just are written in such a way that you can’t help but feel an immense amount of sorrow. I felt the complete and utter devastation of love lost. You can feel Matt’s presence in her heart. Sarah Ockler doesn’t lose him in the novel. He’s not easily forgotten. I felt it to be very realistic portrayal of grieving and coping and trying to put back those pieces. This book was one of those where I could feel my eyes and nose starting to sting because the tears were a comin’ and I was trying to hold them back so much. It annihilated my heart. More quietly and over time than say If I Stay where I was in full out SOBBING mode. But still. Shredded. Minced. Diced. What have you. Sarah Ockler didn’t hold back on my heart. I’ll say I felt hopeful and a little bit of peace at the end but there is no reversal to this type of slaying. Certain books leave their mark like that on me.

Sarah Ockler’s writing was just perfect for me — right from the beginning as she hooked me with such a sweet, playful & innocent romance. My heart. She also nailed the setting for me. I had to look down at my pasty white skin to remind myself I was not actually enjoying their summer fun on the beach. I really connected with Anna right away and I could tell that behind the messy exterior of Frankie there was a really great character that I’d grow to love. You could just tell. She grieved her brother like my sister grieved my mom. A little more attention seeking and rebellious…and attention turned to boys. I also thought some of Frankie’s family interactions were written were just brilliant to be honest; though I was quite disappointed that they seemed SUPER oblivious to what was going on all summer. Grief is just this big ol’ elephant in the room and sometimes it decides to show itself in the strangest of ways, places and times. I could relate to it.  And the way the secret came out – HEARTWRENCHING.

 

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler is just one of those books that you easily get sucked into (the pain evoked experiencing a sweet love lost, the jump-off-the-pages variety of characters, the gorgeous setting, etc.) and find yourself come tumbling out of the pages hours later; bruised, tattered & with a heavy sense of something in your heart. Sarah doesn’t totally pulverize your heart as you see the beauty of friendship & family, hope,  and a new found appreciation for every day. It’s a good mix of heavy & uplifting. I do not understand AT ALL why this book was challenged. I expected something way more scandalous and promiscuous based on the title and then on the whole Wesley Scroggins thing. I will say that I’d be more likely to hand this to older teens as there is a little bit of drinking and sexual situations involved.

 

Young Adult Contemporary Novel Twenty Boy Summer

 

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, books from Jennifer Echols, Moonglass & In Honor by Jessi Kirby, books from Sarah Dessen

 

Did any of you read this book? Did you agree with Scroggins assessment of it? Tell me what you thought!

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Title/Author: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
Publisher/Date: Random House – March 2012
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
How I Received This: The publisher was kind enough to send me this!
Find Wanderlove on Amazon or Goodreads

What it about in a sentence or two:  Bria decides to use the summer before college to trot the globe (err Central America) to reclaim who she is and have the adventure of a lifetime to help assuage the pain of her recent breakup. When her fellow globetrotters end up being middle aged, “by the guide book” type, she eagerly abandons her planned out trip for an invitation to backpack with two “real” global vagabonds who show her what self discovery on the road is really about.

Ever read a book summary and just get this overwhelming urge to keep screaming, “THIS BOOK IS SO ME!!” Yeah…pretty much that was my experience.

Before I go into my review you have to understand thing one thing about me. If I could, I would be a nomadic wanderer traveling the world for the rest of my life. I mean, read my About Me. If there’s one thing I love more than books, it’s travel. Soul shaking, life changing travel. And it always is. As I seemed to have put it way back when I made my About Me, ” I have this insatiable desire to be everywhere I’m NOT.”  So you can imagine why I went batshit crazy about a book that asks, “Do you want to be a global vagabond?” Um why YES..yes I do.

Truly, Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard is one of my favorite books I’ve read this year or so! It’s got a little bit of everything — adventure, romance, friendship, self discovery, lush descriptions, & it even has DRAWINGS in it!! Like the realization of a good trip coming to a close, I started to panic when I realized I was nearing the end of this book…grasping for pages that weren’t there. I just wasn’t ready for it to end.

The story is so well written and flows so well at a perfect pace- much like the ebb and flow of a good trip. Hubbard’s descriptions of settings and “on the road” encounters are authentic & vivid; paying tribute to her exceptional travel writing abilities that abound with transportable qualities that make you feel every chicken truck ride or picturesque sunset. As beautiful as her travel writing is, I cannot speak enough about the way these characters are written and the very raw and believable growth we witness. I don’t know WHICH adventure was more satisfying to be honest.

Bria, Rowan, Starling and the characters along the way were so lively and memorable. Bria is someone who is so easy to relate to. She wants to be uninhibited, fight for the person she WANTS to be and just living in this shadow of herself that was partly created by her douche of an ex….but she’s got so much she’s holding on to. Watching her grow and start to rediscover herself was an exciting journey in itself. Rowan…oh Rowan. I wouldn’t mind being his travel partner as it seems we share similar travel philosophies….minus the fact that sometimes he seems a bit pretentious about travel. Travel is such a personal thing and when you are serious about it..I guess it’s easy to sometimes come off like that and wanting everyone to experience the way you do.

Can we just talk about the tension between Bria and Rowan? OH MY GOSH. I could feel my whole body clenching when I would hold my breath during their encounters. I just wanted to pluck them out of the book and smash their faces together causing them to smooch like I used to do with Barbie and Ken. YOU KNOW YOU WANT IT!

My Final Thought: Read this. If you love a realistic YA read that is a fun, light not lacking in substance, romantical tension that is done right and a romp across some of the most amazing places in the world…then you might want to bump this one up now! I’ll be singing the praises of this book for a long time to come. It’s more on the romance/self discovery side as I felt some of the travel aspects did start to fade into the background but, if you don’t go into this expecting something resembling a travelogue, you’ll be fine!

Review On A Post-It:

Books You Might Also Like: Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson, 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson…and if it’s travelogues you seek..I can recommend a few!

Have any of you read this book?? Any other books you’d recommend to attempt to satiate that travel bug?

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares

Dash & Lily's Book of DaresTitle/Author: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan & Rachel Cohn

Publisher/Year: Knopf Books for Young Readers/2010
How I Got This Book: Bought it at the author signing for it!
Why I Read This Book– I needed a non-cheesy Christmas book to read and I heard really good things about this one..and about David Levithan in general. Oh and The Strand is involved!!
Rating: 4 stars

Lily, a perky, Christmas-loving optimist, leaves a notebook filled with clues and a challenge for the finder on the shelves of The Strand after her brother and his boyfriend convince her that she needs to find a guy. Dash, our brooding, Christmas-loathing hipster, finds this notebook at his favorite bookstore–The Strand– and accepts the dare. The notebook takes them all over the New York City during the Christmas season as they accept each others dares and create new ones. They end up finding out a lot about themselves and each other but they have to wonder–is the notebook merely a projection of what they want to find or will they really find love during a lonely Christmas apart from their families?

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares definitely met my requirement as a non-cheesy Christmas pick. It was full of hilarity, wit, love and introspection. I loved the concept and I was eager to see where Lily and Dash would send each other next. Listening to David and Rachel read this and talk about their writing process enhanced my reading experience. The book alternates from Lily to Dash and David and Rachel wrote the book the way that Dash and Lily did the notebook. David would write a chapter and then send it to Rachel and then from there she would write a chapter based on what he wrote. You can just imagine them sitting there, “Oh yeah..you sent me to MACY’s..guess where I’m sending Lily next!?”

A really bad pic of me at THE STRAND!

I really liked the characters. Lily reminded me of a less annoying version of perky Rachel Berry from Glee–with a less polished look. Dash reminded me of your typical hipster boy who thinks is way too cool and has exceptional taste in everything. I liked how the notebook allowed each of them to let their guards down and drop the facade. My one gripe with the characters is that Dash just didn’t seem believable to me sometimes. It was some of the conversations he would have–particularly the one he had with Lily’s aunt at her house (or grandmother..I forget?). It just seemed a little too contrived and I couldn’t really see anybody talking like that to an adult–especially a high school boy. However, Dash was always the type of guy I wanted back in the day–intellectual, deep, hip, etc. so I’ll still love him.

I loved that they were opposites because my boyfriend (of four years) and I are totally the same way. We shouldn’t fit together–not at all. Any matchmakers or dating services would have never in a million years put us together. As Dash and Lily learn, it’s not always easy to work through those differences and doubts and sometimes it can become downright frightening to try and figure out how you really feel and what you are looking for. It’s a messy and complicated process. Looking realistically at what they knew of each other through the notebook, I’m not quite sure I believed that they were that invested in each other. It moved a little quick but I can understand how that is. It reminds me of back in high school and early college when you were getting to know a guy and you’d chat until all hours of the night on AIM and you’d analyze everything said and smile and squee when he showed interest or said something cute. You’d feel yourself falling for him in his clever answers to your questions and feel like you knew him SO well. And then, for me, I’d get to know him and he wasn’t that charming or perfect; just really good at writing the right thing. I guess I probably wasn’t either. Anyways, I digress, but their affection for each other came so out of the blue for me but I kind of just equated it to the above experiences. *spoiler-ish* I mean, they came together and realized that the other one wasn’t perfect despite what they built them to be but they were ok with that and started from there.

My final thought: If you want a non-cheesy Christmas book to simultaneously help you release some of that Christmas tension by laughing a lot and thinking about what it is to love, give this a try. It certainly isn’t a mushy romance but I think it captures some of the wading through murky waters you have to do in a courtship. Dash and Lily will be memorable characters that will have you rooting for their love immediately. It will be a story that is as sweet as all that overpriced, commercialized candy will taste on Christmas morning. Hey, I’m just channeling my inner Dash after a long day of Christmas shopping and feigning Christmas cheer as I get bumped around by crazy Christmas shoppers and cranky inhabitants of the long lines.

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