If there was any doubt that 2012 William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist Ruta Sepetys could meet readers’ expectations after Between Shades of Gray, put those fears aside—her upcoming title, Out of The Easy, confirms that this writer is here to stay. Lost memory remains a popular convention in young adult lit, as Unremembered and Being Henry David remind us, and for romantics, Meant to Be offers a fun frolic through the streets of London.
MORRILL, Lauren. Meant to Be. Random, November 2012. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780385741774.
Gr 7 Up—Completely firm in her beliefs about fate and love, Julia, an adamant rule follower, sets off to London with her class in hopes of having an educational and cultural experience. Even more than that, Julia can’t wait to discover the city that her mother and deceased father—the ones who originated her ideas on fate—explored as newlyweds. Unfortunately, this also means that she must leave behind Phoebe, her best friend, and Mark, her childhood crush. Matters become even worse when Julia is paired up with Jason, the class clown. Jason is determined to get Julia to loosen up and have some fun, especially if that means breaking a rule or two. As Julia learns more about Jason and starts exchanging flirty texts with a secret admirer she met at a party, Julia begins to question everything she believes about fate and love.
Meant to Be is, above all, a romance novel. While quite predictable, it’s a very fun and light read. The setting adds a nice and unique touch to the plot. Jason is an incredibly likeable character, but, although some readers may relate to Julia, she may come off as annoying to others. Overall, Meant to Be is highly recommended to romance enthusiasts, but those who aren’t into love stories should stay away from it.—Kayla T., age 15
SEPETYS, Ruta. Out of the Easy. Philomel. February 2013. Tr. $17.99. ISBN 9780399256929.
Gr 9 Up—I picked up Out of the Easy knowing that the story was set in my hometown of New Orleans. With fleur-de-lis adorning the beginning of each chapter, I immersed myself in the world of a 1950s Big Easy and followed the life of Josie Moraine, a young and intelligent woman who’s trying desperately to avoid following in the footsteps of her mother, a French Quarter prostitute. A year after high school, and six years living without a mother’s guidance, Josie takes readers through a world in which the streets are littered with alcoholics, where officers and criminals collaborate, and parental figures are found in a brothel’s madam and a Cajun taxi driver. It’s an older version of a city that I love dearly and depicts a dark past that Josie desperately wishes to escape.
After meeting an admiring, high-class gentleman in her bookstore, Josie falls in love with the idea of having a respectable father, sentiments that are so easy to relate to. However, when the man is mysteriously murdered just hours after their meeting, Josie’s scarred life is further wounded and damaged. As she attempts to leave her old life behind, Josie becomes more involved with New Orleans’ criminal world. The story evolves with an enthralling climax and an enchanting despair, as readers easily fall in love with each unique and beautiful character.—Abrania M., age 15
BRODY, Jessica. Unremembered. Farrar, March 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374379919.
Gr 7-12—A girl wakes up in the middle of the ocean surrounded by bodies and debris. She wakes up without a single memory, without any idea about her life before being found as the only survivor of the crash of Freedom Airlines flight 121. After being rescued, she’s brought to a hospital and given the name Violet because of her distinguishable violet eyes, and becomes an overnight celebrity. She’s placed into the foster home of Heather and Scott Carlson with their 13-year-old son, who live in a secluded area in California. Violet’s entire life before living with the Carlsons is a mystery, and the only clue she has gotten is the strange boy who keeps showing up in her life. With the help of this boy and the Carlson’s son, Violet tries to piece together her past and find out where she came from and where she was trying to go.
Unremembered is a book about the search for a life forgotten. The mystery behind the life of Violet is filled with twists and turns that leave the reader striving to find out what really happened and how she ended up in the middle of the ocean. Written from inside the uncompleted mind of Violet, Unremembered is sure to be an interesting story for readers who love a good mystery.—Emmalyn B., age 17
ARMISTEAD, Cal. Being Henry David. Albert Whitman. March 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807506158.
Gr 8 Up—The last thing he remembers is now. When Hank wakes up in Penn Station, he discovers that a hobo is eating his book, a drug dealer is shanking him, and there’s a lot of emotional baggage that he now has to open up. There’s one thing in his way though—a monster in his stomach who’s his greatest enemy and later his greatest friend. This friend is hiding him from an important aspect of himself—that his sister was maimed in a car accident and he was driving the car.
I fiercely enjoyed this book from start to finish. I liked the constant action that was driving the story forward. I also enjoyed the fact that Hank had no memory. I liked this because it adds an extra layer of mystery to the story. I also appreciated the extra layer of athleticism; this also adds a layer of mystery because it makes you think, why? I loved how this book was tied in with Walden, which added a lot of depth to the story.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”– Henry David Thoreau
I recommend this book to those people who would like to run away from it all to start over or to just have the choice to do so.—Kaleb B., age 14
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