Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Bittersweet But Realistic Love Story

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Omaha, 1986. Eleanor is an unwieldy red-head who decorates her sweaters with fishing lure and lives with her mother, four siblings, and an abusive stepdad. Park is a comic book-loving do-gooder whose half-Korean heritage makes him a novelty in this neck of the woods. When Park lets Eleanor, the new girl, share a seat with him on the school bus, they soon find themselves bonding over comic book heroes and exchanging mixed tapes. Soon, they have embarked on an unlikely romance—however, both have personal issues that repeatedly threaten to end the relationship. The author’s admirable refusal to shy away from the painful (and frightening) subject of domestic abuse, as well as the story’s bittersweet but realistic ending, are what make this love story stand out. Recommended for Grades 9 Up for strong language.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Review: Surrounded by Sharks: A Spine-Tingling Adventure Tale (with No Character Development), by Michael Northrop

Surrounded by Sharks by Michael Northrop (2014; Scholastic Press, 2016, 224pp.)

Thirteen-year-old Davey makes the worst mistake of his life when he decides to ignore the “No Swimming” sign at the beach. Shortly after he wades in, he’s overtaken by a dangerous riptide and swept out to sea. Now he’s floating in the middle of the ocean—and about to come head to head with a hungry tiger shark! While the novel’s lack of character development brings much disappointment, the plot that accompanies the author’s spine-tingling premise does not. It’s action-packed from beginning to end, and will definitely appeal to reluctant readers in Grades 5-7.