Amity Middle School Orange Book Blog

Read reviews by an avid young adult book enthusiast.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Education of Hailey Kendrick

When people use the word education, often it is assumed it is academic education that is being referred to yet there are many ways that a person becomes educated. In the book The Education of Hailey Kendrick this is really true.
After Hailey’s mother is killed by a car while she is crossing the street, Hailey and her father have an adjustment to make. Hailey thinks things are fine when her father believes she should attend a boarding school called Evesham Academy in Vermont and spend the summers with her grandparents. As the years pass, Hailey sees less and less of her father. As a senior, she is facing choices about college. She hopes her grades will help her attend prestigious Yale University. Since she is an excellent, disciplined student, Hailey’s chances are pretty good.
When her father scuttles her end of the year party scheduled for the summer and calls off their plans to spend time together over the summer, Hailey has a major meltdown. She and her boyfriend Tristan’s best friend Joel commit an act of vandalism by dismembering a statue outside the school. When a maintenance worker identifies Hailey as one of the culprits, she protects Joel because he is on scholarship at the school. Things really unravel for Hailey when her very popular and extremely handsome boyfriend Tristan becomes jealous. Although Kelsie is her best friend, can she really trust her?
What are the chances that Hailey will learn more through these difficult situations about herself and her relationship with her father than she has had school for the last four years? Who will be the unlikely person to help her once the school administers its punishment for her vandalism? What will be her biggest life lessons? Read The Education of Hailey Kendrick by Eileen Cook to find out.



Monday, January 30, 2012

Inside Out & Back Again

Inside Out & Back Again is written in verse. Sometimes this puts student readers off. I recommend that readers try a few pages before dismissing this type of book. The story flows quickly. Usually the author uses very effective imagery.

Thanhha Lai fittingly dedicates this book “To the millions of refugees in the world; may you each find a home.” This book is semi-auto biographical about her life in Vietnam before the fall of Saigon and her family’s flight to safety in the United States.

The main character Ha, has three older brothers. Her father has been captured at the beginning of the war. Her mother tries desperately to feed and clothe her children despite her own depression and uncertainty about the fate of her husband. When it becomes apparent that the Americans are losing the war against the Communists, her mother makes the decision to flee the only country she has ever known.

The struggle to secure passage on a ship is filled with hardship. The adjustment to America proves even more difficult for Ha. Students make fun of her straight hair, the clothing she wears, and her customs. Culture shock is extreme for poor Ha.

How will she make her way in this strange land called America? Who will befriend her? Will anyone choose to eat with her in the cafeteria? Will any of the adults at the school see her plight and reach out to her? Read Inside Out & Back Again to begin to understand the trauma that many immigrants face.

Trapped

Do you think spending the night in your high school with about seven friends might be fun? Initially, Jason, Pete, and Scotty think it might be until the blizzard becomes so intense, it is obvious that they won’t be rescued for days—perhaps even a week. Another trapped student, Elijah James, is the only one to vocalize that perhaps they might all die in their high school.

Trapped by Michael Northrop is realistic fiction at its best. When a blizzard hits New England, most students take the buses when the school system decides to release students early at 1 p.m. due to the rapid accumulation of snow. Others are waiting for their parents to pick them up. Little do they know that the roads are impassible; no one will be picking them up any time soon.

Coach Gossell agrees to stay with them until their rides come. When he realizes that they aren’t going to be rescued, he sets out on foot to try to get help. Quickly enough, the seven students are aware that communication has all but stopped. The coach never returns. Their cell phones don’t work. The lines must be down for the school’s landlines. As they begin to feel the full impact of their predicament, they know they must band together to secure food from the cafeteria, to navigate the school once the electricity goes out, to figure out how to melt snow for water once all the pipes freeze, and how to stay sane in the face of the greatest blizzard they have ever experienced. Additionally, they are all concerned about how their families are managing through this ordeal.

The story is told from Scotty Weems perspective. He and his best friends, Jason and Pete feel a bit threatened by Les, another student stranded with them. None of them know what to make of Elijah who seems more suited to being a goth. They think he is just plain weird. Julie and Krista are girls they don’t usually associate with, but now that they are thrown together how will that change their friendship?

Read this story to find out what it is like to be without all the conveniences that we expect in our world. Try to understand what could happen to us all if a blizzard of this magnitude did hover over New England for seven days.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Legend

Set in a future Los Angeles, Marie Lu’s debut novel entitled Legend is dystopian romance at its best! The Los Angeles of this futuristic society has been eroded by flooding. The Republic which rules it is at war with the Colonies. Elector Primo is the leader. Citizens blindly pledge their allegiance to the Republic and their leader daily.

June is 15 years old and living with her older brother Metias after their parents’ tragic death in an automobile accident. She attends the prestigious Drake Academy where she has few friends. June excels beyond anyone’s expectations both academically and athletically. She is just the type of young, na├»ve and faithful follower of the Republic that leaders adore.

The Republic holds a Trial for each student when he/she is 10 years old. At June’s Trial, she received the highest score attainable.

When her brother is killed by the Republic’s most wanted criminal, 15-year-old “Day”, The Republic pulls June from the Academy—graduating her early—so that she can use her many gifts to find Metia’s killer.

It is by pure chance that June is rescued by Day as she goes undercover in some of the more poverty stricken areas where plague is rampant. She gets to know him before she fully realizes who he is.

As their lives weave more closely together, June must face some difficult decisions. Can she contain her anger against him for murdering her brother? Should she trust him? Is this society really what it seems? Read this fast paced novel to find out!  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Variant

Benson Fisher has lived in too many foster homes and placements to keep track any more. In his last foster placement his foster father had him working so many hours for the family that he couldn’t do any activities at school. He is sick and tired of this kind of life where no one really wants him. When an opportunity occurs for him to apply for a scholarship at Maxfield Academy, Benson readily seizes it. This could be the ticket out of the foster system he so detests.
Amazingly he is granted the scholarship. Things aren’t always what they seem, however.  Maxfield Academy is surrounded by razor-wire fence and is more like a prison than any school Benson has ever attended. When he realizes that there are no adults at the school, that all his actions are watched by video cameras, and gangs of students rule the school, his only thought is to escape. However, there appears to be no way to successfully runaway.
The school is ruled by three gangs of students. The “society” gang doesn’t appeal to Benson; he is convinced the “variants” would be the best group to join.
Why don’t any of the students currently at Maxfield know any of the movie titles that Benson talks about? Why is everyone recruited to the school in the same predicament that Benson is—without any family that will miss them if they never return? Can he trust anyone at Maxfield? Is it true that anyone caught trying to escape receives the punishment of death? Is it possible that Maxfield is an experiment?
Fans of dystopian fiction will love this fast paced novel written by Robison Wells.



Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Apollo's Lights

Written by Heather Baer, this title is a unique blend of realistic and paranormal fiction.

A tight knit group of seniors are starting to pair off and become couples. When a new boy arrives at Enterprise High School, Makayla is instantly drawn to him. Blair is quite handsome with honey blonde hair and hazel eyes--just like Makayla's.

As Makayla's eighteen birthday approaches, she begins to experience frightening nightmares which are all too real. She knows that something is terribly wrong. Headaches compound her discomfort. Someone is in grave danger, but until Blair helps her sort out what is happening to her, there is no relief from the terrifying, exhausting dreams. The emergence of Makayla's gifts makes her character remarkable.

Highly effective dialogue among the characters adds to be realistic feel of the novel. The use of effective vocabulary helps the reader envision the episodes that Makayla experiences. The ending clearly indicates a sequel will follow!

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Pledge

In this futuristic, strict society, everyone must make a pledge to defend the queen, hence the book's title, The Pledge. The protagonist of the story, Charlaina has a special gift.  Charlie, as she is called by her friends at school, can understand the language of other classes in this society despite the fact that she and her parents and younger sister are of the Vendor class.

From a very young age her parents have taught her to never reveal this gift. Likewise, they have instructed her younger sister to never real her talent to heal others by her touch.

In such a repressive society, drug raged clubs are where young people such as Charlie and her best friend Brooklyn hang out. It is there that Charlie meets the strange man named Xander and finally Max to whom she is very attracted.

When an attack on the queen takes place, Charlie and her sister are hidden in the underground. What will it take to find her parents? Will Charlie's special power, be discovered?

Fans of dystopian fiction will enjoy Kimberly Derting's The Pledge. I know I did!

Half a Life

Darin Strauss was driving his father's car when the accident happened. A girl from his school whom he barely knew, Celine, drove her bike into his father's car. The resulting collision led to her tragic death.

This memoir reveals the depth of his guilt despite the accident being termed a "no fault" accident. The memories of him attending Celine's funeral, meeting with Celine's parents following the accident and the inevitable lawsuit brought against Darin's family despite the "no fault" conclusion by law enforcement, eye witnesses, and the other passengers in Darin's car continue to play out in Darin's mind over and over again.

This tragic event overshadows half of Darin's life.

I would recommend this title to serious readers who might want to know how shattering an event like this for any person to endure.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Future of Us

Emma and Josh have been best friends forever. . .until Josh decided to try to kiss Emma last year. Emma's reponse was, "No, you're Josh!" She wasn't ready for their relationship to change. She wasn't ready to lose her best friend, almost brother, to take a chance on romance with him.

Now it is a year later in 1996 and Josh's mom asks him to go next door and give Emma the CD-ROM with AOL software on it to Emma so she can install it on the new computer her dad sent to her.

Once installed the program suddenly shifts from AOL and Instant Message to a program neither Josh nor Emma has ever seen. Surprisingly, this new program has their names in it and photos of them fifteen years into the future. Facebook hasn't been developed yet, but for Emma and Josh, it is in their present in 1996.

Is it possible to change their respective futures by alternating their present day activities and ideas? Will knowledge of their future help them plan for it while they are in high school? How will their current relationship be affected by knowing aspects of what lies ahead for them? Read this book by Jay Asher and Carolyn Macker to find out!



Jay Asher Interview:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Crossed

This sequel to Matched by Ally Condie is sure to please fans of Cassia--the main character from the first book. Originally matched to spend the rest of her life with her long time friend Ky, Cassia's match is suddenly switched to be with Xander.

This sequel takes place after Ky has been sent by the Society to the Outer Provinces where the Society will work him to death.

Cassia follows a trail left by Ky after he and another boy escape. The trail leads them through the Carvings where Cassia learns of the Uprising. She has been given red pills. Should she trust using them or are they given by the Society for evil purposes.

Read this sequel toMatched to find out if Cassia will join the Uprising, be reunited with Ky or will Xander reappear in search of Cassia?

The Raft

S. A. Bodeen continues to delight readers with her new title--The Raft. Fans of The Compound and The Guardian will absolutely love this third title by Bodeen! The Raft is due to be released in August 2012, but I was lucky enough to receive an advanced uncorrected copy.

Robie is a typical teenager in many ways. While on a trip to Hawaii to visit her aunt who lives there, Robie decides to have her nose pierced despite that she knows she will be met with disapproval from her parents once they find out.

Robie is unlike a lot of typical teenagers in that she lives on an atoll called Midway in the Pacific Ocean.

It is on her way back home from Hawaii that the cargo plane she is flying in crash lands in the Pacific Ocean. Only Max, a new co-pilot she has never met before, and Robie survive the crash. Max helps Robie into the survival raft. He has a very bad head wound and slips in and out of consciousness.

How will they survive in the tiny raft in the vast Pacific? What will they eat once their meager supplies run out? How will they stay hydrated? Will anyone know to look for Robie? She wasn't supposed to be flying home this early and she doesn't think she was entered into the cargo ship's manifest before taking off. Will her newly pierced nose become horribly infected? Read this page turner to enjoy another great read by S. A. Bodeen!