There’s something for everybody in this roundup of reviews from teen book group, Bookmarked. Shawn Goodman’s Kindness for Weakness is a contemporary coming-of-age story, much of which takes place in a juvenile detention center. Global warming meets mythological monsters and gods in Solstice, by P. J. Hoover. Kara Taylor’s whodunit, Prep School Confidential, explores the obstacles a teen encounters as she tries to track down her roommate’s murderer. Put these on your summer reading list!
GOODMAN, Shawn. Kindness for Weakness. Delacorte. May 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780385743242.
Gr 9 Up—Kindness for Weakness follows the story of James, a teenager who has lived his whole life surrounded by a lost and broken family. With an alcoholic mother and an abusive stepfather, James turns to his older brother, a bodybuilder and drug dealer, for the role model that he’s never had. A quiet and intelligent student, he is now determined to be strong and unafraid of the terrors that have followed him. However, James will soon learn that physical strength and superficial courage mean nothing in the face of reality. He will have to choose whether to defend himself or be kind, despite the face of weakness.
Shawn Goodman has eloquently brought us to a part of our lives that is often hidden away—the inner turmoil of facing the cruel world with an open heart or a defensive stance. James is committed to get through a stint in juvenile detention, inspired by a list of books provided by his English teacher. He also has several adult figures to look up to, each showing him a different way to make that decision. Ultimately, through James’s challenges and suffering, we bitterly learn what that choice should be. An excellent read.—Abrania M. age 16
HOOVER, P.J. Solstice. Tor Teen. June 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 978-0765334695.
Gr 8 Up—Piper lives in a world that has succumbed to the Global Heating Crisis. Each day brings hotter temperatures and heat bubbles that threaten to destroy Earth. Even worse, she lives with her overbearing mother who suffocates her more than the heat does. On her 18th birthday, though, her mother gets called on a mysterious errand and Piper jumps at her first opportunity for freedom. She discovers a world she never imagined—with gods and monsters—and realizes that her world isn’t the only one in a crisis. While gods battle for control of the Underworld, Piper’s life begins to spiral out of control, and she struggles with a secret that has been kept from her since birth—her very identity.
Solstice by P. J. Hoover is about a world filled with mythological creatures. Hoover utilizes her unique writing style to create a beautiful world of disaster and chaos—and not just in the Underworld. Earth is in danger too, and I like how she weaves the possibility of future realities into Piper’s present. This story is anything but fast-paced—except maybe in the romances. Hoover takes her time to get to the ‘meat’ of the book. In the beginning, it felt as though the romantic relationships between Piper and two other guys was happening too fast, but as I kept reading and Piper’s secrets started to be revealed, I understood the author’s choice of pacing. Also, the whole love-triangle thing is a bit tired out, in my opinion, but that didn’t turn me off from this book. Actually, it was very essential to the story. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy world building and stories that are slowly revealed.—Kathleen M., age 16
TAYLOR, Kara. Prep School Confidential. St. Martin’s Griffin. July 2013. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781250017598.
Anne Dowling transfers to Wheatley Prep after being expelled from her old school for accidentally burning down the auditorium. A week after arriving at her new school, her roommate, Isabella Fernandez, is murdered, and the school is all too eager to cover it up. Anne, believing that the school is hiding something, decides to take it upon herself to find Isabella’s killer and bring him or her to justice. As Anne delves deeper into Isabella’s life, she finds that Isabella had many enemies, any of whom could have killed her and all with the money and power to cover it up.
I liked this book because it kept me guessing until the end. As soon as I thought I knew who did it, new evidence was revealed which made me suspect someone else. The book ended in a way that I never saw coming. It is a good and fast read that I would recommend to anyone who likes mysteries.—Alexandra M., age 15
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