OK, the column title isn’t exactly accurate this time. To pick up the Thanksgiving holiday slack, Elizabeth Kahn, the leader of our fine young adult reviewers at Bookmarked, has also contributed a review. Liz reviewed the debut novel Colin Fischer—and her write-up is a beauty. As is the review of Greg Takoudes’s When We Wuz Famous, due out March 2013. Our final review is a second take on Jessica Brody’s Unremembered, and like the original review, gives the novel a big thumbs up.
MILLER, Ashley Edward and Zack Stentz. Colin Fischer. Razorbill, November 2012. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781596145789.
During the American Library Association’s annual conference, in Anaheim, CA, last summer, I had lunch with two new YA authors: Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz. Although they’re new to the YA novel scene, these guys have a lot of writing credits under their belts, including the screenplays for the films X-Men and Thor. During the screenwriters strike in 2007, they took a character named Colin Fischer—who was created for a television show that never was produced—and turned his story into a novel for young adults. Colin has Asperger’s syndrome and exhibits all the strange personality traits that go along with it. After hearing the authors’ story of how they created this book, I was eager to read it and even cracked it open before I left California. By the end of the first chapter, Colin had captured my heart. When he begins high school, he’s dogged by Wayne Connelly, the same bully that he couldn’t shake in junior high. When a handgun turns up in the cafeteria, the principal is convinced that Wayne brought it to school. Putting his dislike of the bully behind him, Colin steps up to investigate the crime and absolve Wayne. The two boys are odd companions, but together they put together the puzzle and figure out how to build a friendship—a relationship that neither of them has had much experience with.
If you’re a fan of Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Doubleday, 2003) and Francisco X. Stork’s Marcelo in the Real World (Scholastic, 2009), both of which feature young adults with Asperger’s, you’re going to fall in love with Colin Fischer. Colin is younger than the protagonists in those two books, but his quirkiness and unusual take on life is refreshing and hilarious. You may not want to deal with Colin day in and day out, but spending a few hours with him, his family, and his new friend make for a great read.—Elizabeth Kahn, librarian, Patrick F. Taylor Science & Technology Academy, New Orleans, LA
TAKOUDES, Greg. When We Wuz Famous. Henry Holt, March 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780805094527.
Gr 9 Up—Francisco Vicioso grew up in Spanish Harlem, a neighborhood where he was well known for his above average grades and outstanding basketball skills. In the eyes of others, his life was perfect. He had a close group of friends who named themselves the Kaos Krew. What happens when Francisco is offered a full scholarship to an elite boarding school? Because he wants to better his future, he decides to take the offer. Not only is he leaving behind his family, but he’s also leaving behind his best friend, Vincent, and his girlfriend, Reignbow. While Vincent is back at home getting into trouble, Francisco is struggling to fit in with the affluent, white society at his new school. Francisco faces the stereotypes surrounding his background and questions regarding his gang affiliation. Francisco must make a decision of whether or not he will stick with his present or with his past. Unable to escape his past back home, Francisco makes a risky decision that eventually determines his fate.
Takoudes’s novel is an empowering one that depicts the harsh realities for those living in Spanish Harlem. While reading the novel, I felt as if I was Francisco, facing the struggle between the old and the new. As the story continued, I felt empathy toward all of the characters. This novel is one of the best I’ve read in a long time! It isn’t one of those clichéd realistic fiction novels that I’m accustomed to reading. With a pinch of romance, it shows the trials and troubles an average teenager would face today. This novel portrays nothing but the truth, which is what I love most about it.—Lauren T., age 16.
A Second Take …
BRODY, Jessica. Unremembered. Farrar, March 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374379919.
Gr 7-12—Seraphina, a 16-year old girl who’s found near the wreckage of a plane, has no memories and no real identity. To add to that problem, she has amnesia, but she knows one thing—nothing is as it seems. While trying to regain her memories, Seraphina questions every clue and struggles to find out who she really is. But her biggest question is, Who is the alluring boy who claims that he knew her before the plane crash and says that they were in love? Seraphina struggles to understand and when he adds that there are people out there that are trying to find and hurt her, can she really trust him? And is he able to protect her from the people he claims have made her forget?
Unremembered is an intriguing and puzzling book that will sweep readers off their feet. During the majority of the book, I was trying to solve the mystery and figure out what would happen next. The author does an excellent job keeping readers captivated and wondering what’s going to happen next. There’s also a plot twist toward the end that I found very perplexing and interesting. Overall, this novel is fascinating and thrilling to read, and I’d definitely recommend it.—Kaylynn T., age 16
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