Our latest column features two contemporary stories, one fantasy, and another take on Out of the Easy. Gayle Forman’s Just One Day illustrates the benefits and dangers of opening up to the world, while Sarah Skilton’s Bruised defends the right to close down and protect yourself. A Corner of White, from Jaclyn Moriarty, explores what can happen to someone who’s trying to balance two worlds, both seemingly real.
FORMAN, Gayle. Just One Day. Dutton. January 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525425915.
Gr 9 Up—Allyson has been a simple, goody-two-shoes her whole life; being adventurous has always been the job of her best friend, Melanie, or Mel 2.0, as she likes to be called. By chance, Allyson receives a flyer for a performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. It takes one performance, one coin flipped her way by a boy going where the wind blows, and suddenly she’s blown in too many ways too quickly. Allyson suddenly becomes Lulu and is wrapped in a world of fluidity in a small span of time, only to have it suddenly ripped away. Having it ripped away, though, just seems to make her want it back even more.
Already a huge fan of If I Stay and its companion, Where She Went, I had extremely high expectations for Just One Day. It definitely didn’t disappoint me! I was immediately wrapped in a world of senses, feelings, and people. Just One Day is a story of love, friendship, independence, and discovery of oneself and the world. I loved falling in love with every word and feeling that Allyson felt, and I can only hope there will be more to her story.—Destiny B., age 15
Skilton, Sarah. Bruised. Amulet. March 2013. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781419703874.
Gr 7-12—In Bruised, Imogen witnesses an armed robbery. Because she has a black belt in Taekwondo, Imogen feels that she should have done something to stop the robbery, instead of just hiding under a table. Throughout the book, she begins to get closer to Ricky, who was also hiding under a table. In the end, she realizes that there was nothing she could have done.
I liked this book because it shows that while a person may say they would do something in a particular situation, no one truly knows how they would react beforehand. This story also shows us that no matter how strong you are, no one is invincible and in the end, there are some things that are completely out of one’s control.—Alexandra M., age 15
MORIARITY, Jaclyn. A Corner of White. Scholastic. April 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545397360.
Gr 6-10—Madeleine is a girl of science, a girl of bright colors. But walking through the streets of Cambridge, England, she finds her corner of white wedged in a parking meter—a connection between our world and a Kingdom where seasons change in the course of a single day and her precious Colors can kidnap and even kill people. In this Kingdom (an unbelievable figment of imagination to Madeleine), young, handsome Elliot Baranski seeks his lost father. But there’s disorder in his land, much like the bleak life that Madeleine leads in her world. Together, they save each other from reality and imagination, loss and love, darkness and light.
I’ve always been captivated by the mysteries of color and light, just like Madeleine. Her interest in Isaac Newton’s discoveries and the way in which those observations are incorporated into helping Elliot survive the Color attacks are perfectly executed. It’s an excellent and consistent theme throughout the novel; even when the plot slowed down, the colors kept me reading. I also greatly appreciated the psychological connections between Madeleine and Elliot toward the end of the story, especially regarding the dangers of imagination. It had never crossed my mind that living in an imagined world, as Madeleine often did with Lord Byron and her father, could be detrimental to one’s sanity. Congratulations to the author—this is a very unique and much appreciated book.—Abrania M., age 16
SEPETYS, Ruta. Out of the Easy. Philomel. February 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399256929.
Gr 9 Up—Seventeen-year-old Josie desperately wants to leave New Orleans and the hustler lifestyle that it seems to have in store for her. But with a prostitute mother who cares only about herself, Josie must depend on herself to find the money to go to college. She faces many obstacles along the way—mostly because of her mother—including owing the local Mafia boss thousands of dollars. With only two small jobs, Josie’s hopes of escaping her debt and getting the money for college seem impossible.
This book combined many great storytelling aspects. Josie is a very relatable character; she loves reading, and she’s insecure about her identity. Both her social status and the fact that she doesn’t know her father cause significant problems. The unexpected twists are well intertwined, creating the complicated atmosphere that surrounds Josie’s life. Set in the French Quarter in the mid-1900s, Out of the Easy overflows with the customs and aura of New Orleans. It’s an interesting and enjoyable read.— Paris E., age 16
This article was featured in School Library Journal's SLJTeen enewsletter. Subscribe today to have more articles like this delivered to you twice a month for free.