I like the twist of an Amish girl doing rumspringa in Nancy Grossman’s A World Away. In Blind Spot, author Laura Ellen surprises readers with a teen character who suffers from macular degeneration, a condition usually regarded as an “old people’s” disease. And our reviewer reports that it was definitely worth waiting eight years for Lois Lowry’s Son, the conclusion of her Giver Quartet.
GROSSMAN, Nancy. A World Away. Hyperion, July 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781423151531.
Gr 7 Up—Eliza Miller has always longed to see what the world is like outside of her culture. And since guests, or “the English,” gather at her home every Thursday night to experience what life would be like as an Amish, it was only natural that Eliza’s curiosity would grow. Since she’s now 16, Eliza is eligible to partake in rumspringa, which is a period of freedom for Amish teenagers. When one of the guests offers Eliza a job as a nanny in Chicago, she decides to take it. At first, Eliza’s parents immediately reject the idea; however, they end up letting her go. Eliza experiences many new things, such as going to the movies and talking on the phone. Eliza has never thought about staying in Chicago until she meets Josh. Eliza is faced with a difficult decision: she must choose between her traditional life as an Amish or her new life as an English.
Grossman effectively allows the reader to see the differences between the two cultures. I enjoyed learning about the Amish and their customs. I also enjoyed seeing Eliza mature as the story unfolded. It was interesting to read about how an Amish teenager would view the world I live in. The book was an easy read. There were unexpected plot twists that made me want to keep reading. I ended up finishing the book in two sittings!—Lauren T., age 15
ELLEN, Laura. Blind Spot. Harcourt, October 2012. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780547763446.
Gr 8 Up—As a truck driver is being rescued after dangerously driving across thin ice, Tricia’s body is found afloat. The night she went missing six months ago was the night she got into an argument with Roswell Hart. Amazingly, Roz can’t seem to remember anything about that night. Did she have something to do with Tricia’s murder? Without her central vision, she tries to piece together what she saw, or thought she saw, with the little bit of vision she still has. Roz’s memory doesn’t do her justice, and she’s left with a mystery that haunts her. As the story progresses, Roz is rewarded with peace of mind as some truths are revealed while others are kept secret.
Blind Spot is such an emotionally charged book that even if you don’t have macular degeneration, like Roz, you can easily relate to her character, thanks to the riveting details. Ellen was able to use her experiences to further express the frustrations of those with similar diseases. With its suspenseful plot, I recommend this book to anyone who craves a good mystery.—Alicia T. age 16
LOWRY, Lois. Son. Houghton, October 2012. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780547887203.
Gr 8 Up—Son is the exciting conclusion to Lois Lowry’s Giver Quartet, tying together everything in the previous three books (The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Messenger). In Son, readers meet a new heroine named Claire, and once again find themselves in the strange community of the first book. During the well-known Ceremony of Twelve, Claire is assigned to be a Birthmother for the community. Things go wrong during labor, and the Product she carried is forcefully taken from her, carved out of her belly. Afterward, Claire is unsure of many things—her future, her feelings, her memories—but she knows one thing for sure: that she wants her son back, and she’ll stop at literally nothing to get him back.
Son provides a wonderful conclusion to Lowry’s Giver Quartet, and was well worth the eight year wait. Lowry expertly flows from each event to the next, thoroughly explaining things. Even though I hadn’t read Messenger in years, Lowry’s writing and character interaction subtly reminded me about the events of the previous books without disrupting the flow of the narrative. Son never becomes dull, even when she’s in a fish hatchery, just reading about her thoughts, her emotions, and her plans for what she’s going to do next makes Son an engaging read. Lowry’s lifelike characters, themes of freedom and dedication, and fantastic narrative make Son a great book that everyone should read.—Thomas S., age 16
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