March 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Teens Review the Latest from Patrick Ness, Susan Beth Pfeffer, and Others

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This is a bit amazing—four terrific reviews this issue, and only one for a book in a postapocalyptic setting! The Shade of the Moon from Susan Beth Pfeffer wraps up her “Life As We Knew It” series—for some writerly fun you can compare her first and second drafts at her blog. Patrick Ness delivers a powerful look at how memory can be very subjective in his latest title, More Than This. In So Much It Hurts, Canadian author Monique Polak tells the story of a starry-eyed young actress who gets into a relationship with an older man, who becomes verbally and physically abusive. To learn why Cheryl Rainfield wrote Stained, a thriller about a teen kidnapped by a maniac, click into this YouTube video and be prepared for a bit of shock.

RAINFIELD, Cheryl. Stained. Houghton Harcourt. Oct. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN  9780547942087.

StainedGr 9 Up—Sarah is a pretty teenage girl who hides behind her birthmark, which covers half of her face. She tries to stay strong when facing bullies, but sometimes she just feels like curling up into a ball. She thinks that bullies are her worst fear, but she soon learns what true fear is. As she walks home from school one day, she is kidnapped by a deranged killer. Most girls would cry themselves to sleep, but not Sarah. She becomes determined to escape from her prison. However, as minutes blend into days, and days blend into months, she begins to lose hope. Will she ever see her parents, best friend, or school yard sweetheart ever again? And worse, could the killer’s words become reality? Will he kill her or her family if she does anything against his will?

Stained was an exciting, action-packed story that kept my heart racing the entire time. Every chance I had, I was reading this book. I felt drawn into the book, like I was actually in it. I felt like it was me clawing at the boards on the windows until my fingers bled. I became extremely close to all of the characters in this book. I was sad when they failed and happy when they succeeded. The author did an excellent job in creating this closeness. She made me long to know what happened next. This is a wonderful book that all teens will enjoy.—Michaela B., age 14

NESS, Patrick. More Than This. Candlewick. Sept. 2013.Tr $19.99. ISBN  9780763662585.

Gr 9 Up–Seth Wearing has woken up in what he assumes is his own personal hell. After his death, he did not expect to wake up in his childhood home in London—it brings back too many bad memories. This seemingly real world is abandoned and dust-covered. How did he get here? He clearly remembered the waves thrashing him beneath the surface, breaking his bones. So how is it that he is alive? And why does every moment of rest bring back vivid, agonizing memories from the past? Seth doesn’t know what’s going on but he hopes that the rest of his afterlife will be more than just this…

More Than This was a breathtaking read. I enjoyed the unknown setting and all there was for Seth to discover about his life. But behind the mystery, the book has a good moral message. I would recommend this book to any teen but especially a teen that feels like there isn’t anything more to life than what they’re currently experiencing.—Paris E., age 17

POLAK, Monique. So Much It Hurts. Orca. Sept. 2013. pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781459801363.

So Much It HurtsGr 9 Up—Iris has caught the eye of acclaimed movie producer, Mick. As an aspiring actress, this is an amazing thing. So what if Mick is fourteen years older than her? He’s sophisticated and she’s happy to call him her boyfriend. Except she can’t quite call him that—Mick wants their relationship to be a secret. After lying about her affiliations with Mick, Iris doesn’t find it hard to keep quiet about Mick’s temper; she even lies about how she got a black eye. Mick loves her, it’s evident—Iris just causes him to get so angry sometimes. Relationships are all about getting used to each other, she just has to get used to Mick’s fits. Right?

So Much It Hurts is a realistic tale about the psyche of teenage girls in abusive relationships. Iris blames herself for Mick’s behavior and only hides the truth, from her best friend, from her mother, and from herself. This short novel can aid in bringing awareness to domestic violence in young adults and just how badly it can end.—Paris E. age 17

PFEFFER, Susan Beth. The Shade of the Moon. Houghton Harcourt. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780547813370.

Shade of the MoonGr 7 Up—Jon Evans is a slip—simple as that. He can never claim the privileges of the elite enclave dwellers, those that are needed and deserve the best food and the best houses, but he also avoids the dirt-poor life of a grub, outsiders who work as servants or farmers and can be easily replaced. Instead, he can enjoy the benefits of living within the enclave but can never escape the fact that his family are still grubs. And in a postapocalyptic America, being of these two worlds will soon test Jon’s ability to choose between right and wrong.

The fourth in “The Life As We Knew It” series, The Shade of the Moon picks up the story of a family struggling to survive after the moon was knocked out of orbit, causing major changes to the Earth’s environment. Amid the chaos, a new kind of society formed, one where the spoiled kids of doctors and lawyers forget that those with lower paychecks are still human and deserve happiness as much as they do. Susan Beth Pfeffer does an excellent job of showing this moral struggle within Jon, although she falters in writing a more realistic display of Jon’s emotions. Overall, a good read.—Abrania M., age 16


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Dodie Ownes About Dodie Ownes

Dodie Ownes left the glamorous world of retrospective conversion and disco to jump on the library vendor train. Since then, she has been learning at the feet of the masters about all things library. Dodie lives in Golden, Colorado, where even the sign which arches the main street says "Howdy."

Empowering Teens: Fostering the Next Generation of Advocates
Teens want to make a difference and become advocates for the things they care about. Librarians working with young people are in a unique position to help them make an impact on their communities and schools. Ignite your thinking and fuel these efforts at your library through this Library Journal online course—April 24 & May 8.