“How to Save a Life”—A Book Review

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How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr was a very absorbing read. This tale was very different from the stuff that I normally read, so I kind of surprised myself by how much I enjoyed it.

Jill hasn’t been the same since her dad passed away, and now her mom has decided to adopt a baby. But as if that idea, in and of itself, isn’t hard enough, it’s not a typical adoption. Mandy, the young pregnant girl wants to live with the family before she gives birth. Weird as it sounds, Jill’s mom agrees to Mandy’s terms. And so Mandy comes to live with Jill and her mom in the months leading up to the birth of the baby.

This book is told in alternate narratives from Jill and Mandy’s points of view. It was very intriguing hearing the dramatic difference in the voices of these two teens, even though they are roughly the same age. While Jill is very closed off and pissed at the world, damaging any relationship that comes her way, Mandy is extremely naïve and almost childlike. Along the way you find out that Mandy has not had a very pleasant childhood, being brought up by a mother that has made it clear all of her life that she never wanted a child. And while Mandy was exposed to some pretty harsh truths at a very young age, her intellectual growth seems to be stuck somewhere around middle school.

Jill doesn’t trust Mandy, and is a total bitch to her from the start. Mandy is a compulsive liar, feeling like she has to keep the truth of herself and her past hidden. Mandy feels that if Jill’s mom knows the truth, she won’t go through with the adoption, and Mandy wants her baby to have a good life and a good mom, but the reality is…Mandy really just needs a mom herself. And Mandy not only lies to Jill’s mom…she seems to lie to everyone in order to receive attention, and struggles with the boundaries of real and fantasized relationships.

I’m telling you, even though Mandy seems like a complete dumbass and I just wanted to reach through the pages and strangle her most of the time, I could not put this book down. The dynamics between the characters were simply riveting. And of course, the more you read on, the more the story pulls you in. Will these girls learn how to let go and when to hold on?

I give this book four out of five stars. Definitely worth the read.

“Twisted”—A Book Review

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Twisted is another exceptionally thought provoking read by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Tyler was your average fade-into-the-background teenager, until he gets busted for vandalizing the school grounds with graffiti. In order to pay back the debt, he spends all summer doing manual labor, which in turn grants him with a killer smokin’ bod.

Back at school with his new physique, Tyler is now attracting the kind of attention he has only ever dreamed of. Most specifically, Bethany (his long-time crush) is noticing him.

Sounds like the perfect high school year, right? 

Perhaps it could have been, but not for Tyler. His home life still sucks, with a verbally abusive father, and a mother who pretends like it isn’t happening. And also, it turns out that the school hottie, Bethany, is still the stuck-up, pretentious, bitch that she always was.

Like things always seem to do in high school, a bad rumor—involving Tyler taking suggestive photographs of Bethany—quickly spirals out of control. So not only does Tyler become the object of high school bullying, but he still continues to take verbal assault from his dad at home.

Twisted does an amazing job of getting inside a troubled teen’s head, and showing the reader that even though you can’t necessarily see it on the outside, someone could be going through hell on the inside. A perfectly painted narrative urges you to ponder your actions of taking out your frustrations on others, because no one can guess at how damaging the side effects may be.

I give this book four out of five stars.

“Eleanor & Park”—A Book Review

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I can only think of one word to describe Eleanor & Park: Amazeballs! Fans of authors such as John Green and Laurie Halse Anderson will simply adore this novel by Rainbow Rowell. This book is extremely raw and kept me engrossed from the start…I simply couldn’t put it down.

Everyone has/is/will experience the traumatic hell that is high school. It is no different in the late 1980s for Eleanor and Park, but they find that through each other they can persevere.

Eleanor is definitely not your average skinny and hip teenager. Being a chunky girl with an insurmountable mop of curly red hair is bad enough, but add to it only having ratty old hand-me-downs and Good Will clothes to wear and you have yourself a target for relentless high school mocking.

Half-Korean, green-eyed, Park doesn’t get picked on, but he doesn’t fit in with the popular crowd either. He gets through his days floating just under the radar. When Park first sees Eleanor on the bus, he avoids her just like everybody else. But unlike his peers, the more Park observes Eleanor, the more intrigued he becomes.

Eventually, Park finds himself sharing his comic books with Eleanor, and overtime, even making mixed tapes for her to listen to (it’s the ‘80s people). While Park lives in the shadow of his tall and athletic younger brother at home, he soon discovers that he is treated like royalty in comparison to Eleanor’s home life.

Emotionally unrefined and still somehow sardonically funny, these two quirky teens are sure to capture your heart and make you remember the hardships of young adulthood, and the intense thrill of first love. You simply HAVE to read this book! I give it Five stars, for sure.

 

Eleanor & Park reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.”—John Green, The New York Times Book Review

 

Amazing Quotes to behold:

“And then there was Ol’ Green Eyes. Whom she was apparently going to tell her whole life story to. Maybe on the way home, she’d tell him that she didn’t have a phone or a washing machine or a toothbrush. That last thing, she was thinking about telling her counselor.”

 “Park’s eyes got wide. Well, sort of wide. Sometimes she wondered if the shape of his eyes affected how he saw things. That was probably the most racist question of all time.”

 “All I do when we’re apart is think about you, and all I do when we’re together is panic. Because every second feels so important. And because I’m so out of control, I can’t help myself. I’m not even mine anymore, I’m yours, and what if you decide that you don’t want me? How could you want me like I want you?”

“Eleanor pressed her cheek into his chest, and Park hugged her. He wished that they could go through life like this. That he could physically put himself between Eleanor and the world.”

“He tried again to remember what he’d thought the first time he saw her. He tried to remember how this had happened—how she went from someone he’d never met to the only one who mattered.”