Tag Archives: young adult

Second Star to the Right by Deborah Hautzig

Second Star to the Right by Deborah Hautzig Title: Second Star to the Right
Author: Deborah Hautzig
Publisher: Puffin Books
ISBN: 9780141305806
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 176
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

I am back to my reading project of ‘The Novel Cure’ and this time since I finished D, I began with E – the first ailment being “Eating Disorders” and the first cure was “Second Star to the Right” by Deborah Hautzig. I didn’t realize the book was a young adult novel till I started reading it and since I love Young Adult Novels, I was completely bowled over.

Leslie Heller is a bright, attractive and a regular teenager who lives a life of privilege in New York City. Her life takes a drastic turn when she begins to diet in her quest for happiness and that becomes an obsession with her, to the point of death by starvation. She and her family struggle with it and at the same time Leslie also has to battle with her past and her Jewish roots.

The book deals with the emotional and mental trauma that an anorexia nervosa patient goes through. It is autobiographical and therefore the writing becomes so strong and emotional. Leslie as seen through Deborah (because she is based on her) is raw, intense and confused. The writing is heart-breaking as you see Leslie and her family coping with anorexia and coming to terms with what can be done to cure it.

“Second Star to the Right” puts a lot of things in perspective for teenagers, mainly about the issues of fitting-in and acceptance and what it takes in our world to be what you want to be. I think I will for one gift this book to every teenager I know to make him or her understand that life is not always about being accepted. It is about being who you want to be.

Next Up on the Novel Cure Reading Project:

Ailment: Egg on Your Tie
Cure: Restoration by Rose Tremain

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Dandelion Clocks by Rebecca Westcott

Dandelion Clocks by Rebecca Westcott Title: Dandelion Clocks
Author: Rebecca Westcott
Publisher: Penguin UK
ISBN: 978-0141348995
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 288
Source: Product Manager
Rating: 4/5

The age of “sick-literature” is on. Almost all young adult books have that element in them after “The Fault in Our Stars” and I am not surprised. It can get a bit annoying though. I would rather be back in the time and place when literature for children and teens was simple and reality-free. Or maybe it is the times when they already know so much; that this cannot hurt all that much or maybe I am just thinking too much about it?

Anyway, I read “Dandelion Clocks” by Rebecca Westcott on the fifth of July. I finished it in a day. The premise was nice. The characters were well-etched (some of them though lacked some depth but I am sure, the author will take care of that in the sequel Violet Ink). The book could have been longer, according to me and that is only because I liked it and wanted to know more. All in all, “Dandelion Clocks” was a good read. It also choked me up (as usual) and that is only because, no matter what age one is at, the idea of losing a parent or being away from home (in my case) and thinking about Mom (this book is based on children-mother relationship) can get you all teary-eyed.

“Dandelion Clocks” is about Olivia, an eleven year old and six months in her life, knowing her mother is going to not be there. She will die soon. It is also about Isaac, her older brother with Asperger’s syndrome and how she deals with it. It is about friendship, love, death and identity as you grow up. Olivia loves clicking pictures. She finds her solace and comfort in them. And that again is the crux of the story, as she wants to keep memories alive through them.

On the other hand, it is about her mother trying to teach her how to be a better human being, as she no longer will be around and this she wants to through her diaries written when she was a teenager. It is also about Olivia’s aunt, brother and Dad and how they feel (well that will again be brought up in the sequel in a more detailed manner, I hope). As far as the title goes, let me tell you that you have to read the book to figure that one out.

Like I said, the premise is excellent. The narrative moves at a brisk pace. I just wanted more of it. The book is so taut in some places and somehow loses some steam in others. Having said that, I am still eagerly waiting for the sequel to know what happens in Olivia’s life and how she copes with loss of a loved one. “Dandelion Clocks” is a story that will captivate (in its own way), it will hurt (again in its own way) and will make you want to read the sequel, and I only hope that the sequel is longer.

Here is also the book trailer:

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Paper Towns by John Green

Paper Towns by John Green Title: Paper Towns
Author: John Green
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
ISBN: 9781408857144
Genre: Young Adult, Teen Romance
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

At one point, I thought that John Green could not write what he did when he wrote, “The Fault in Our Stars” or at least when I read it, I felt that way. Till I picked up, “Paper Towns” (which was published way before TFIOS) and gave it a read.

“Paper Towns” is a unique book. It is different (I hate using that word, but hey, it just somehow fits). It is special. It is about life and somehow Green manages to infuse humour in all his books (which to me is the best part of it all – saying the toughest life situations, with a pinch of salt and sugar). “Paper Towns” is bittersweet. It is everything perhaps you do not want to happen to you and yet you want it all. It has that effect on you.

Margo Roth Spiegelman is what every girl in school wants to be and every boy wants to be with. Quentin Jacobsen is her next-door neighbour who is in love with her, since he can tell. They are both at school together and Margo is known for her wild ways – to run from home and come back later, to do things that no one would expect her to do and somehow with her all is forgiven. And one night she plans one of her adventures and invites Quentin to be a part of it – it is revenge and they play it well. The next day Margo disappears and the entire school, her family and Q are left wondering, as to what happened.

She in turn has left clues for Q – so she could be found or maybe not, and this is where the story actually begins. This is the plot of “Paper Towns” in short. The writing is just what John Green is used to doing – breaking your heart and making you smile at the same time. There are levels and trails that are magnificently brought out in the writing, which perhaps makes it more than just a teenage romance. For everyone out there, who has read The Fault in Our Stars, you must read Paper Towns. You will love it more. Just like me.

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Book Review: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate Title: The One and Only Ivan
Author: Katherine Applegate
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780007455331
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 252
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

Off-late I had stopped reading Young Adult novels or anything close to in that genre or even children’s books for that matter. I did not find anything new in them. They were either set in magical worlds or in this world with fantastical creatures. Till I ended up reading, “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate.

The book is for young adult and is based on a true story of a gorilla named Ivan. For me, the book did a lot. Perhaps books that you need do come into your life only at that time. There is no other way to this so-called selection – when books find you and want to be read by you.

“The One and Only Ivan” is about Ivan – a gorilla who has lived in a cage for almost twenty seven years of his life. He has had Bob – a dog for company and Stella – an aging elephant. Ivan is a silverback gorilla – the kind who has to protect his tribe and family and here he is in a circus mall on the highway on Exit 8. He is a gorilla who paints – finger paints at that and those paintings sell. He watches television in his cage. There is nothing else to do anyway.

Ivan is close to George the cleaner and his daughter Julia. Mack is the owner of this theme based mall. He is the man in-charge. Life goes on as usual. Till one day, Ruby, a young elephant makes an entry. Circumstances lead to Ivan making a promise – that of saving Ruby’s life. Of setting her free, of not making her become another addition to the mall, which becomes the mission of his life. That is when the story takes off.

The reader learns about how Ivan came to be here and about his life. There is Ruby’s life thrown in and so is Stella’s. I liked the story because it rang true. It is based on a true story. There are characters which are thrown in for effect, but the story is that of Ivan’s. Towards the end, I felt that Applegate was rushing with the story; however, given the plot and the structure, I let that pass. To me, “The One and Only Ivan” was a book which is sweet, full of life, hope, a great and unique friendship and above all about freedom, which we sometimes take too much for granted and need to learn its value. A read for times when you have given up on all hope.

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Book Review: The Sound of Letting Go by Stasia Ward Kehoe

The-Sound-of-Letting-Go Title: The Sound of Letting Go
Author: Stasia Ward Kehoe
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
ISBN: 978-0670015535
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 400
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

“The Sound of Letting Go”. I wanted to read the book only because of the title. I did not even go and check the synopsis or the plot. I knew I had to read this book and this is what happens sometimes. You need to read the book.

“The Sound of Letting Go” by Stasia Ward Kehoe is about Daisy, a sixteen year old and her younger brother who is autistic and her parents. So basically, it is about her parents sending her brother to an institution and how Daisy decides to no longer be a good girl. It is almost her form of revenge and getting back at her folks. And then of course enters a young man, Cal, who makes her see things differently.

The character of Daisy is well-etched and yet there are times you cannot help despising her, and very soon you grow to love her as well. That is the way the writer sees it, so be it.

What I loved about the book is the way it is written. It is prose poetry and the writing is exquisite. I know it is an author most of us have not heard of, but now you have and according to me you should read this, if you are interested in young adult fiction. Kehoe’s writing is not complicated at all. It is simple and impacts when it should.

I breezed through the book. It is painfully honest and talks of family dynamics and relationships unlike any other young adult novel I have read in a long time. There is the right balance of plot, characters and what will happen next. To some extent, I also thought that Kehoe had way too much insight in her characters, but that is the only way to write a book.

“The Sound of Letting Go” is a book which is sweet, bitter, sad, happy and sometimes just heart-breaking.

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