Just a Normal Tuesday by Kim Turrisi

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Thanks to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for the opportunity to read and review Just a Normal Tuesday by Kim Turrisi! Kai and her parents are consumed with grief over the suicide of her sister Jen. I like how the story covers their grief and how each of them handles everything differently from finding Jen, her letters to each family member, the funeral preparations, their relationships with others and work and school when they try to get back to “normal”. All of this is covered in the first half of the book then Kai hits rock bottom and her friends and family don’t know how to help her, so she’s sent to a grief camp. This turns out to be the best possible choice. Small group discussions and activities help the teenagers learn how to move forward without forgetting the loved ones they have lost. Helping others seems to be the best way to overcome sadness because of thinking about someone else instead of just yourself heals broken hearts. I’m impressed with this book, the realistic feel of it, and I fell in love with the characters and wanted them to heal. The background of the story is interesting also and I appreciate the author being willing to share her personal experiences along with her pain. The resources included at the end will help many readers know where to find the help they need; 5 stars for a beautiful story of experiencing loss and the hope that brings light back into our lives.

Skinny Me by Charlene Carr

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Skinny Me by Charlene Carr involves a young woman who has battled her weight her entire life and is dealing with the feeling of hitting rock bottom. She feels that her weight is out of control, she’s unemployed and her mother has passed away. She picks herself up and focuses on what she can do to improve her life and relationships. Little by little, Jenny makes changes starting with a new menu and beginner exercises and a job acceptance. She tries to socialize more and also pushes herself to run. Jenny meets with a personal trainer and sets a possible goal and continues to work on her relationships. She realizes that losing weight isn’t going to stop her insecurities and internal struggles; she has to work on her self esteem also. 4 stars for a realistic story geared toward adult readers. Per author request, I voluntarily read and reviewed this book.

Hearts Are Like Balloons by Candace Robinson

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I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of Hearts Are Like Balloons by Candace Robinson! The story begins with May in her teen years helping her mom take care of her cancer stricken father. The story continues on with May and her mother trying to deal with the loss of their loved one, after her father took his own life. They handle things differently and in their own ways but eventually they move forward with their lives, still keeping him close to their hearts. This book is about relationships, tragedy, friendship and love and is a tear-jerking read; both sad and happy tears. It’s also a soothing balm to help heal wounds and sadness. I love Hearts are like Balloons with its humor and strong characters. 5 stars for this realistic fiction, romance story!

Definitions of Indefinable Things by Whitney Taylor

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I voluntarily read an ARC of this book! Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review Definitions of Indefinable Things by Whitney Taylor! A young adult story that encompasses many teen issues, is therapeutic while being told and sticks with the reader for days afterward. Reggie, Snake and Carla share their take on depression, relationships and teen pregnancy . I plan on purchasing this book for the library I work at because the teenagers will love it with it’s sarcasm, humor, struggles and dysfunctional relationships telling the story. 5 stars!

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book.
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children’s for the opportunity to read and review All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. All the Bright Places cannot be described with one word. This book is tremendous in heartbreak, coping skills, love, loss and grabbing life and enjoying it while you can! The best line of the book is on page 23, “Some people hate him because they think he’s weird and he gets into fights and gets kicked out of school and does what he wants. Some people worship him because he’s weird and he gets into fights and gets kicked out of school and does what he wants.” This statement sums up the reputation of Theodore Finch. Finch is a mystery to everyone. Finch and Violet share the narrative through alternating points of view. Finch struggles with depression and Violet suffers from survivor’s guilt. Violet’s sister died in a car accident not long before the story begins. The awkwardness and humor between Finch and Violet pulled me into the story and made me love both of their characters! When the two were paired together for a class project, their lives intermingled in many ways and they helped each other grow and enjoy life. All the Bright Places is a beautiful story of loss, love and what comes after. I appreciate that the author approached the stigma of needing help and the people we all know as fakers. The author’s notes were soul bearing for her and she discussed difficult topics that tend to be overlooked in our society; way to face the tough parts of human nature! 5 stars for this highly recommended book.

Bang by Barry Lyga

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I checked out Bang by Barry Lyga on our school’s Overdrive ebooks site. The opening literally blew me away! The narrator states that his sister is gone. She’s gone because he killed her! He was four years old at the time and now he’s telling the story ten years later. The narrator, Sebastian is just living, but not enjoying anything. He’s consumed by guilt and doesn’t believe he has any right to be happy. Sebastian has been biding his time until the tenth anniversary of his sister’s death because that’s when he plans on taking his own life. This story is difficult reading at times, but other times it’s friendly and healing. I’m not going to spoil the book for you because it will take the curiosity away and this story is worth reading! Bang is contemporary, realistic fiction for a young adult audience and my rating is 4.5 stars.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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I have finally gotten around to reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. This book is monumental and legendary in how it faces life head on. The story contains everything from adolescence that defines us – teen angst, popularity or lack thereof, family struggles, dysfunctional families and the relationships that we form during this impressionable time that will help shape our futures. Empowering and overwhelming, this contemporary classic bears its soul for the world to see, learn from and to grow with- 5 stars!

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

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Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland drew me in with the beautiful cover and my interest built with the synopsis. The mysterious Grace and the non-mysterious Henry are chosen to be the senior editors of the school newspaper. Grace flat out says no! The intrigue of Grace and the nonchalance of Henry pulled me into the story immediately. Complicated characters, complex lives and an emotional roller coaster make this book therapeutic. This young adult story is charming and endearing, romantic and humorous, and tragic, all at the same time. Wow! What a read! 5 stars for cleverness and un-put-down-ability! The author’s reference page is charming also. Highly recommended!

 

Faithful

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Faithful by Alice Hoffman is a surprisingly uplifting book, even though a lot of sadness and turmoil take priority as the story unfolds. I received a book through a Goodreads giveaway and an advance reader copy for a fair review, thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster!

The books by telling the tragic story of two teenage girls involved in a car accident and what happens to both of them afterwards. Helene is in a coma and miraculously heals people by the touch of her left hand. Shelby feels guilty for not being as physically damaged as Helene and continues to blame herself for the accident because she was driving. Shelby has had to deal with horrible experiences even after the accident: trying to commit suicide, being sent to a psychiatric ward, being raped by an orderly in the ward and trying to deal with everything and still live a normal life. Shelby moves in with Ben, a guy she has known for a long time and this way, she finally gets out of her parents’ home and gains a little independence. She saves neglected pets, gets a job in a pet store and builds a relationship with Ben. Shelby meets new people, makes friends and makes some mistakes along the way. Shelby finally realizes she wants to improve her relationships and be more grateful for them. She has a wonderful mother and she finally realizes that also. Shelby’s world turns completely around after the accident, and then, eventually, her world turns around again. Through her struggles and trials, Shelby finally knows what she wants in life and how to let herself enjoy life and love. I give this book 5 stars because I became so involved with the characters and grew to understand parts of my own life more clearly through reading about Shelby! Thank you, Alice Hoffman!

And the Trees Crept In

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Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown Books for the arc of And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich! The story opens in the 1980’s when three girls playfully make a protector out of cloth, clay and other items they find around the house. Then, the story jumps to 2013 and a thirteen year-old teenage girl (Silla) and her four year-old sister (Nori) walk a long distance to live with their Aunt Cath in Blood Manor. They enjoy their time with Cath, until she becomes irrationally upset when Nori almost goes into the woods; the woods Cath has warned them to NEVER enter. After that, she lives in the attic while the house deteriorates and the food dwindles. In the meantime, Silla and Nori meet Gowan, a young man who claims to know Cath personally. As time passes, Silla slips further into confusion and madness. The woods keep moving closer and the manor seems to be sinking, while Silla and Nori grow hungrier. This book is creepy and mysterious and sometimes confusing, but then the author shines the light on the twisted story and it makes the confusion worth it. It makes sense in the wonderful ending and this book is proof of why I always finish the books I start reading because there is always the hope that it will turn out to be a good book! I also enjoyed the use of typography to portray emotion. Impressive – 4.5 stars!