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Thornhill

Title:   Thornhill
Author:   Pam Smy
Series:   —
Recommended for:  older tweens and teens who like creepy books
Pages:   533 pages
Call Number/Link:   J FICTION SMY, P.

Rating:   ****

 

 

 

 

Summary:

Parallel plotlines set in different times, one told in text and one in art, inform each other as a young girl unravels the mystery of a ghost next door.

1982:  Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute for Children at the very moment that it’s shutting its doors.  When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she’s left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary and on Thornhill itself.

2016:  Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one.  From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window.  Determined to befriend the girl, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill’s shadowy past.

Comments:

Some colleagues were surprised that I chose to read this book since I don’t usually read creepy, scary books.

As it works out, I was less scared than horrified by the book.  I was really troubled by the cruelty of the bullying that the girl from the eighties experienced, and that the orphanage’s primary caregivers truly didn’t care.  The girl obviously needed psychological help, as did the bully.

I did not get a complete picture of the contemporary girl’s situation.  I could see that she and her father had moved to a new place where she didn’t have any friends.  Her mother isn’t with them and the father works so many hours that the girl is, for all intensive purposes, an abandoned child.

There was no way that this book could end well….

 

But now for the biggest mystery of all:  should we move to book to Teen Fiction or keep it in J Fiction?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by on September 24, 2017 in Historical, Historical, Horror, Juv, Scary, Teen

 

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Karma Khullar’s Mustache

Title: Karma Khullar’s Mustache
Author: Kristi Wientge
Series: N/A
Recommended for: grades 5 – 7
Pages: 272
Call Number/Link:  J Fiction Wientge (we don’t have this yet/it comes out in Aug, but I’ll ask Janet to order it!)

Synopsis: Karma Khullar is about to start middle school, and she is super nervous. Not just because it seems like her best friend has found a newer, blonder best friend. Or the fact that her home life is shaken up by the death of her dadima. Or even that her dad is the new stay-at-home parent, leading her mother to spend most of her time at work. But because she’s realized that she has seventeen hairs that have formed a mustache on her upper lip.

With everyone around her focused on other things, Karma is left to figure out what to make of her terrifyingly hairy surprise all on her own.

Review: I absolutely adored this book. It’s perfect for those kids who are just starting middle school. It deals nicely with friendships, mean girls/bullying, & the ever dreaded “I don’t look like everyone else”/body scenario. There is also some home life issues with dad losing his job and mom picking up more hours/not being around as much. While Karma does deal some some issue appearing/revolving around her Sikh religion, the themes/issues/problems are very universal. The fears are pretty universal, where it would be hard pressed to find anyone who didn’t even deal with some of the issue when they were in middle school. Super fast read and easily one of my favorite middle grades of the year.

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2017 in Juv, Realistic, Uncategorized

 

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Real Friends

Title:   Real Friends
Author:   Shannon Hale
Series:   not applicable
Recommended for:  kids ages 8 and up, also of possible interest to teens and adults.
Pages:   211 p.
Call Number/Link:   GN J HALE, S.

Rating:   ****

 

 

 

Synopsis:

When her best friend Adrienne starts hanging out with the most popular girl in class, Shannon questions with whether she and Adrienne will stay friends, and if she is part of the clique.

Comments:

While friends, friendship and cliques are an important part of this graphic novel memoir, it also deals with Shannon’s family relationships.  At the same time that she was being bullied at school, she was being bullied by an older sister at home.  While the school bullying was more often that of being excluded (or ostracized), I suspected that her older sister used to beat her up when their parents weren’t home.

The book rang true and there were times that I hurt for Shannon.  I was so happy when she finally found Real Friends and flourished!

This book could give kids who are being bullied (or don’t have many friends) hope that they too will ultimately triumph over loneliness and have good friends.

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2017 in Graphic Novels, Juv

 

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Playlist for the Dead

17838490Title: Playlist for the Dead
Author: Michelle Falkoff
Series: N/A
Recommended for: 7th grade & up
Pages: 288
Call Number/Link:  Teen Fiction Falkoff, M

Synopsis: Here’s what Sam knows: There was a party. There was a fight. The next morning, his best friend, Hayden, was dead. And all he left Sam was a playlist of songs, and a suicide note: For Sam—listen and you’ll understand.

As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it’s only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.

Okay, let me start off with saying that the playlist left behind plays very little into the actual book. It triggers memories, but no answers are offered by what songs are chosen. However, that’s not so say if someone when and listened to the songs/looked the lyrics they wouldn’t get a deeper meaner. I didn’t take the time to do that, but I could totally see that being a possibility.

That being said, the heart of this book is about dealing with a friend’s suicide and the aftermath. It’s about unraveling the questions that are left behind and realizing sometimes there is just no clear cut answer. It’s about learning no matter how close you are to someone there are still secrets left to discover. It’s about how personal perspectives shade what we think happened and how we choose to deal with that. It’s about how revenge and how getting even isn’t always the answer. There’s a lot about bullying, the aftermath of said bullying, and how (or how not) to deal with that knowledge.

There some strange parts where it makes it seem like Sam is communicating with Hayden’s ghost. There are some things that are explained, like the IMs, but the rest is kind of left up to interpretation. Was Sam simply hallucinating from lack of sleep/grief or could there have really been a bit of supernatural help going on? The uncertainty of these parts was my least favorite part, but it wasn’t anything that left me ranting.

 

The blurbs have been pairing this book with Perks of Being a Wallflower, which I dont’ see at all. Instead, I would pair this one with 13 Reasons Why. I think that one person can make a difference message is very strong in both books. I say 7th & grade and up, but I think 6th graders could handle it. While it’s about the suicide, it’s more about unraveling the mystery of why he did it and how bullying can affect people.

How to sell/quick spiel: Sam is left is the wake of he’s best friends death, trying to figure out what happened. A party, a fight, and the next morning Hayden was dead. Sam must now unravel the mystery and secrets that Hayden left behind to figure out what really happened. Can he discover what truly caused his friend to step off the edge, a person to point the blame at or will the truth stay buried with Hayden?

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2015 in Realistic, Teen

 

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