In Jennifer Salvato Doktorski’s Famous Last Words, Sam is the obituary writer for a local paper. Holly is the copy editor for the high school newspaper in Maureen Goo’s Since You Asked. Both of these featured titles have ties to journalism.Teens taking the summer off from writing may be inspired to return to the keyboard and see what kind of stories they can cook up themselves.
DOKTORSKI, Jennifer Salvato. Famous Last Words. Holt. July 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805093674.
Gr 9 Up—Sam is just about to turn 17, and like many teenagers, she has a summer job. Sam’s job, however, is quite unique; she writes obituaries for a local newspaper. While writing about people who are no longer living, Sam faces some road bumps in her own life. The secretary in the office hates her, her best friend is driving her crazy, and she might have a crush on the drum playing college intern. As she deals with her teenage struggles, she also works to uncover political corruption in order to make her way up the newspaper-climbing ladder. What ensues is a summer filled with friendship, romance, endings, and a near-death experience.
I was really excited about reading Famous Last Words, but it did not quite live up to my expectations. I did not particularly like Sam, as she sometimes came off as whiny and irresponsible. I felt that a couple of plot points were left unresolved, especially Sam’s conflict with her best friend. However, I really loved Sam’s experiences working with the newspaper and I liked her coworkers, especially AJ. Perhaps if the novel had focused mainly on Sam’s job with the newspaper, I would have enjoyed it more. Still, I am glad that I read Famous Last Words and thought it was a fun, light read.—Kayla T., age 16
Another take… Since You Asked was first reviewed in SLJTeen June 4, 2013.
GOO, Maurene. Since You Asked. Scholastic. 2013. Tr. $17.99. ISBN 9780545448215.
Gr 8 Up—Sophomore Holly Kim is her high school newspaper’s copy editor. Holly is unlike your typical teenage girl character; she is not boy obsessed, she doesn’t wear makeup, and she follows Korean values even though she may not agree with them. After accidentally submitting an article to the school paper that was written as a joke, she is given her own column. In this column she can write about her opinions on upcoming events such as the homecoming dance or Valentine’s Day. Holly also has to write about things that she is against, like the life of a jock that she and her friends claim to hate. With typical high school dramas, she deals with her Korean family and their values and traditions.
Although I was hesitant to read this book after reading the description, I’m glad I did. It was captivating and witty. There is something in this book that almost every teenage girl can relate to whether it is annoying mothers or secret admirers. I liked the diversity of many of the main characters. It gave me a different perspective on the way of life for other ethnic groups who live in America. I will admit nothing really exciting happens in the story because it is just a slice-of-life of a teenage girl, but it definitely is a page turner. I would recommend this book to teenage girls who are looking for a quick read.—Sarah A., age 15
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