Posts Tagged ‘young adult’

Night Road by Kristin Hannah

Being able to pre-order new releases before they come out on the Kindle is pretty sweet.  It’s nice because you don’t pay for the book until it is automatically delivered to your Kindle on release day so you can pre-order books months in advance and not spend all of that money all at once.  I couldn’t wait to read Kristin Hannah’s newest book that just came out a few weeks ago.

Night Road” is told in chunks of time.  It starts out in 2000 when twin teenagers Mia and Zach are entering high school.  The twins are inseparable, even though they are somewhat different: Zach plays sports and is quite popular; Mia is quiet, shy, and doesn’t really have her own set of friends outside of Zach’s.  They seem to balance each other out and are quite dependent on each other.  At this same time, another girl named Lexi, an orphan who has bounced from foster home to foster home, moves into their small town in Washington to be taken in by her great aunt who she has never met before.  Lexi is a bit of a loner herself and on the first day of high school, Lexi and Mia meet during lunch and quickly become best friends.  Judy, Mia and Zach’s mother, has initial concerns about Lexi (her family history, background, etc.) since  their family is quite well-to-do.  Judy is also worried that Lexi will use Mia to get to Zach, which is what happened with another friend of Mia’s in the past.

Fast forward a few years: all this time, Lexi has had a secret crush on Zach but hasn’t done anything about it due to Judy’s concerns.  After a party, Lexi comes on to Zach and he later reveals that he’s had feelings for her the whole time, too.  As Lexi and Zach begin a relationship, and after Mia and Judy’s initial shock wears off, the three teens become as close as ever.  Mia and Zach are both accepted into USC for college, while Lexi can only afford to go to the community college.  Zach doesn’t want to leave Lexi and wants to stay behind in Washington with her, but Mia is too scared to go off to college by herself.

All three kids go to the big graduation celebration party held by one of their classmates at the end of the year.  They drink at the party, even though they promised Judy they wouldn’t.  When it’s time to leave and all three are drunk, Zach and Mia are too afraid to call their mother for a ride even though Judy said they can always call instead of driving after drinking.  What happens next will change everyone’s lives…

I hate leaving you with a cliche cliffhanger like that but that’s really all I can say without giving major spoilers.   I have a habit of not reading the book jacket/summary for authors I like so I had no clue what was going to happen in this book so even up to this point, everything was a surprise to me.

I’ve enjoyed all of Kristin Hannah‘s other books so far but this one was really captivating.  There is so much that happens in the book (so much more after I stopped my summary above) but it’s easy to digest because she breaks it into chunks of years over a decade or so with gaps in between.  I will tell you right now that I almost cried a number of times while reading this but held it in because I was reading it while sitting in the waiting area at the mechanic while getting my car worked on and there were other people around.  The characters were really realistic and the story really draws you in.  I found myself siding with certain characters over others.

I know it’s not summer yet, but if you have any spring vacations coming up and you don’t mind an emotional, potentially tear-jerking book, add this to your reading list.

The Summer Before by Ann M. Martin

This has to be one of the most embarrassing books I’ve read lately.  More so than the Kendra Wilkinson biography.  It’s embarrassing because it’s something that I would have read in 4th grade.  And I’m 27.  But I am a proud former Babysitters Club fan, so I couldn’t resist.  And I know that all of you other BSC-ers want to know.

The Summer Before” is the recently released prequel to the Babysitters Club series.  Were you always curious about how the Babysitters Club came to be?  Kristy Thomas, Mary Ann Spier, and Claudia Kishi are neighbors in the small town of Stonybrook, Connecticut.  During the summer before 7th grade, the tweens are keeping themselves busy but are noticing that they are growing apart.  Claudia is into art and fashion and most recently, boys, after her pool party birthday where she meets a boy who is a few years older than her.  Kristy thinks that boys have cooties and is mostly focused on sports.  Mary Anne is shy and is still treated like a baby by her widowed father.

In typical BSC book fashion, each chapter is told in the perspective of a different girl.  Kristy’s birthday is coming up, and more than anything, she wants to hear from her father.  She is also unhappy about her mother’s relationship with Watson (the father of Karen, of the “Babysitters Little Sister” series).  Mary Anne is also thinking about a lost parent, her mother, who passed away when Mary Anne was young.  She finds a box of her belongings in the attic and frequently looks through to learn about her mother.  She’s also realizing that she’s no longer a child, even though her father still treats her like one, and she is tries to show him that she is growing up.  Claudia gets her first boyfriend, Frankie, an almost-9th grader, but learns that maybe her feelings were stronger than his.  She also recognizes that maybe she’s growing up faster than Kristy and Mary Anne and perhaps they don’t have as much in common as they used to.  Stacey McGill is also introduced in this book, although just in a couple chapters.  Stacey’s family relocates to Stonybrook from New York City.  Stacey had problems at her old school after being diagnosed with diabetes.  Her family hopes to start her life over in a new town.

The three girls make attempts to spend time together over the summer, but there is a clear separation between Claudia and the other two.  Right before school starts back up, Kristy comes up with an idea to start a club where the local parents can call and reach a group of babysitters to book someone without making call after call when people aren’t available.  Mary Anne’s father finally is convinced to let her babysit alone, which is perfect timing.  After Claudia’s breakup with Frankie, all three girls talk and realize that maybe they are growing up at different rates, but they will still always be friends, no matter what.

I’m wondering if this book was written for the 10-year old crowd, or for someone like me in their late 20′s who wanted a walk down memory lane.  Either way, it definitely brought me back!  I didn’t remember a ton about the series, but as I was reading, I recognized names and things that happened.  Stacey wasn’t exactly incorporated into the story, just briefly introduced, and I can’t remember how she’s incorporated into the first book.  Dawn was nowhere to be seen either, but I think she comes in a few books into the series (I vividly remember “The Ghost at Dawn’s House” about the Underground Railroad secret passage!).

I actually purchased the UK version of the book (it was the cheapest one on Alibris) so there were some random British references thrown in (lots of extra U’s, “lantern” instead of flashlight, a few other things that I thought were funny).  There were a few other things that I thought were weird – the cover of mine had a picture of what looks like a cell phone?

The series ended in 2000 (I’m sure the girls were still 13 years old) after a 14-year run, but were being rereleased starting in April 2010.  I wonder if the books were being modernized, hence the cell phone on the cover.  Email or computers weren’t mentioned at all in this one.  Who knows.

There is SO much more that I could talk about regarding the BSC, but maybe I’ll save that for another post.  But I’ll just ask this: what was YOUR favorite book of the series?  I don’t know if I could pick a single book that was my favorite, but I know I always loved the Super Specials!

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Browsing around on Amazon one day, this book came up as one of the “Recommended for You” picks.  I don’t tend to pay much attention to book summaries because after I received the book in the mail, I realized that it was a Young Adult novel.  But that’s okay – I still think some Young Adult books are entertaining and interesting.  I also took a YA literature class in college to fulfill my lit course requirement and I really liked the class (plus I got an opportunity to read some books that I never got a chance to in high school).

Thirteen Reasons Why” is about a pretty serious subject – teen suicide.  Although it’s a little different than you may think… Hannah Baker has already taken her life.  One day soon after the incident, one of her high school classmates, Clay Jensen, receives a mysterious package on his doorstep.  When he opens it, he’s shocked to find what’s inside.  Inside are seven cassette tapes, each numbered front and back written in blue nail polish.  When Clay pops the first tape into the cassette player in his garage, he can’t believe that he’s hearing Hannah’s voice speaking to him.  Hannah has very strict instructions for the listener of these tapes and they must be followed through with or else.  What are the tapes about?  On each tape, Hannah talks about one of the thirteen people who drove her to end her own life.

As Clay starts hearing about things that his classmates did to ruin Hannah’s life, he’s wondering what he could have possibly done to hurt her.  They had worked together at the movie theater and Clay actually had a crush on her but was afraid to ask her out.  As he switches each tape, he is curious as to which tape is his.  As Hannah speaks, she also refers to a map and certain locations that relate to parts of her stories.  Clay had found this map in his locker several weeks before, when Hannah was still alive, but didn’t understand what it was and just had shoved it into his backpack.  Clay continues to listen, tape by tape, learning secrets about his classmates that only the other twelve people on the tape plus Hannah will ever know.   He also realizes that he may have been the only one who could have saved her.

Even though I mentioned that this was a YA book, I didn’t think it was inappropriate for an adult to read.  I actually liked it (for it being about a very serious and sad subject).  The way it was written, the story would be told from Clay’s perspective but then the transcripts from Hannah’s tapes were also incorporated as Clay was listening to them.  It really also makes you think about how your actions may effect someone else, even when you think it’s no big deal.  Some of the things that happened to Hannah didn’t seem like something to end your life over, but to her, obviously they were.  For someone who has a child that is high school age (not me!), it also may open up your eyes to see what goes on in their lives and maybe they need some support or someone to talk to.

This is Jay Asher‘s first published novel.  The official website for “Thirteen Reasons Why” is pretty cool – it includes an interactive map that Clay follows in the book (Clay’s was a real paper map, not interactive – just to clarify) and videos of each of Hannah’s tapes.

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Jaci has read 1 book toward her goal of 35 books.

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