“The Sky is Everywhere” introduces us to Lennon (Lennie) Walker, a junior in high school who is struggling with the sudden death of her older sister. She also begins her first romance while navigating the waters of grief in her life. In the midst of all of this is her wonderfully zany family. Through it all Lennie has her best friend Sarah. Sarah is the kind of friend who will tell you the truth when she thinks what you’re doing is wrong. That’s what I loved most about her, she’s a supportive friend, but she doesn’t hold back any punches. This is a book that deals with teenage grief and teenage romance along with an incredible ensemble of characters, and Sarah is one that truly stands out.
What She’s Like: According to Lennie, Sarah is the most enthusiastic cynical person on the planet. Sarah shares a love of literature with Lennie except that she reads darker books. She read “Nausea” by Jean-Paul Sartre in tenth grade and that’s when she started wearing black all the time (even at the beach) and obsessing about her existential crisis. She has blonde hair, but she dyes it different colors so sometimes her hair is dyed so black it looks blue and other times it’s back to blonde. Sarah even has a jeep she calls Ennui. The best description of Sarah is, “She’s a sun-kissed beach girl who goes gothgrungepunkhippierockeremocoremetalfreakfashionistabraingeekboycrazyhiphoprastagirl.”
Why her? Sarah truly cares about Lennie. She supports her and tries to be there for her as she grieves her sister. Sarah also grieves for Lennie’s older sister as well, since they were also friends. She listens to Lennie and even admits that she doesn’t know what do for her. Then when she finds out that Lennie and Toby (Lennie’s sister’s boyfriend) are comforting each others grief in the wrong way, Sarah does not approve and she is open to Lennie about it. Even though this causes tension between them Sarah sticks to her guns about her disapproval. However, when Lennie and Joe begin their romance Sarah is all for that and also supports them however she can. Sarah is definitely the kind of friend that any girl would want, but she’s especially the kind of friend that all girls need.
Favorite Sarah quotes:
(upon hearing that Lennie is falling in love with Joe): “Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat! That is so unfreakingbelievable! Cows on the moon Len! Cows. On. The. Moon!”
“I am sooooooooooo jealous. Every girl in Clover is after one Fontaine or another. No wonder you’ve been a shut-in. I would be too, if I could shut in with one of them. Let me live vicariously through you. Tell me every freaking detail. That beautiful, beautiful boy, those eyes, those eyelashes, that unfreakingbelievable smile, that trumpet playing, wow, Lennnnnnnie.”
“Seduction always works. I can’t think of one movie where it doesn’t work, can you?”
“I know. because you’re a reacehorse, not some podunk pony.”
The post Favorite BFFs: Sarah from “The Sky is Everywhere” by Jandy Nelson appeared first on Teen Lit Rocks.
I’m out of town at a conference and figured I would do a WoW for once. I’ve been reading Gabrielle Zevin’s Tumbr and have knots in my stomach about the final installment in the “Birthright” trilogy.
“In the Age of Love and Chocolate” by Gabrielle Zevin
Release Date: Oct. 29, 2013 | Pages: 368 | Publisher: Macmillan
Pre-order: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Indie Bound
All These Things I’ve Done introduced us to timeless heroine Anya Balanchine, a plucky sixteen year old with the heart of a girl and the responsibilities of a grown woman. Now eighteen, life has been more bitter than sweet for Anya. She has lost her parents and her grandmother, and has spent the better part of her high school years in trouble with the law. Perhaps hardest of all, her decision to open a nightclub with her old nemesis Charles Delacroix has cost Anya her relationship with Win.
Still, it is Anya’s nature to soldier on. She puts the loss of Win behind her and focuses on her work. Against the odds, the nightclub becomes an enormous success, and Anya feels like she is on her way and that nothing will ever go wrong for her again. But after a terrible misjudgment leaves Anya fighting for her life, she is forced to reckon with her choices and to let people help her for the first time in her life.
In the Age of Love and Chocolate is the story of growing up and learning what love really is. It showcases the best of Gabrielle Zevin’s writing for young adults: the intricate characterization of Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac and the big-heartedness of Elsewhere. It will make you remember why you loved her writing in the first place.
For a story about chocolate, the main character of Gabrielle Zevin’s “Birthright” trilogy isn’t sweet. But that’s okay, because the finest chocolate is actually dark and a little bitter, and that’s exactly what Anya Balanchine is — fierce and layered and completely uninterested in being “liked.” Anya is what she has to be to take care of her siblings and deal with belonging to a Russian mob family that runs the chocolate underground in New York City. Anya is one of the most compelling heroines in young adult literature, but I have a feeling, from everything Zevin has said and warned and foreshadowed on Twitter and Tumblr, that some readers (especially those invested in Anya’s romance with Win) will be shocked/saddened/disappointed by “In the Age of Love and Chocolate.”
Although I break for romance, and I am a big fan of Anya’s (former) boyfriend Win’s, I am excited to see where Zevin takes Anya in this new book. This is her story, not the story of Anya and Win’s eternal love. So no matter what happens, I’m ready, ready, ready for this epic dystopian’s last chapter. And how clever that the book’s title finishes a sentence started by her first novel: “All These Things I’ve Done… Because It Is My Blood… In the Age of Love and Chocolate.”
Thanks Breaking the Spine, for hosting Waiting On Wednesday.
The post Waiting on Wednesday: In the Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle Zevin appeared first on Teen Lit Rocks.
Art by the incomparable Simini Blocker
It’s no secret that we are Stephanie Perkins fans and we love her books. We have also swooned over her male protagonists and we were in shock when we realized that although we had written about our love for Cricket, we had somehow never posted about our equal love of Etienne St. Clair. Of course, one can debate over who they prefer (Sandie and I have actually had this debate), but the truth is that St. Clair is amazing and he deserves all the accolades that are due him.
Name: Etienne St. Clair
What does he look like? He has messy, dark brown hair that is both long and short at the same time. It’s artist hair. Musician hair. Beautiful hair. He also has lovely teeth and big, brown eyes. St. Clair is short, but he doesn’t carry himself like many short guys. They can be shy or defensive, but St. Clair is confident and friendly. His parents are French and American, but he grew up in London and speaks with a British accent, which makes him all the more endearing. He is the kind of guy that all the girls turn their heads to look at, but he is an equally amazing person.
What does he do? He’s a senior at the School of America in Paris. He loves History and is an awesome tour guide of Paris.
Who does he love? Anna, of course.
Why him? There is so much to St. Clair. From the first morning when he helps Anna order breakfast, it’s obvious that he is incredible . He easily includes Anna in their group of friends and helps her with her transition to Paris. Even though he has feelings for Anna, he doensn’t acts on them because he has a girlfriend and Anna is confused over someone from home. Instead, Anna and St. Clair (only she calls him Etienne) develop a great friendship. He shows her the sights in Paris, including places off the beaten path. When he finds out that Anna loves movies he takes her to a theater that shows old films. When it’s Thanksgiving, he tries to help her have a special night despite the fact that the holiday is not celebrated in France. When they each go home for Christmas he calls her and texts her constantly and tries to help her through a rough time. Only when their friendship grows into more that it really becomes complicated and they both have choices to make. To top it all off, he speaks with a British accent…sigh. How can any girl resist Etienne St. Claire?
Swoon Worthy Quotes
“If you ask me to kiss you, I will,” he says.
His fingers stroke the inside of my wrists, and I burst into flames.
“Kiss me,” I say.
“I don’t care what he thinks. Only what you think.” He holds me tighter. “Like if you think I need to stop biting my nails.”
“You’ve worn your pinkies to nubs,” I say cheerfully.
“Or if I need to start ironing my bed spread.”
“I DO NOT IRON MY BED SPREAD.”
“You do. And I love it.”
“I trail my fingers across his cheek. He stays perfectly still for me. “Please stop apologizing, Étienne.”“Say my name again,” he whispers.I close my eyes and lean forward. “Étienne.”He takes my hands into his.Those perfect hands, that fit mine just so. “Anna?”Our foreheads touch. “Yes?”“Will you please tell me you love me? I’m dying here.”And then we’re laughing. And then I’m in his arms, and we’re kissing, at first quickly—to make up for lost time—and then slowly, because we have allthe time in the world. And his lips are soft and honey sweet, and the careful, passionate way he moves them against my own says that he savors the way Itaste, too.And in between kisses, I tell him I love him.Again and again and again.”
“His eyes lock on mine.”Anna,I promise that I will never leave you.”
My heart pounds in response. And Étienne knows it,because he takes my hand and holds it against his chest,to show me how hard his heart is pounding,too.”
The post Literary Crush: Etienne St. Clair from “Anna and the French Kiss” by Stephanie Perkins appeared first on Teen Lit Rocks.
Our April Book Club was “Golden,” the latest contemporary novel by Jessi Kirby, whose roadtrip coming-of-age tale “In Honor” we raved about last summer. If you like books by Abby McDonald, Morgan Matson, and Justina Chen, be sure to check this wonderful pick for your summer reading. The reviews for “Golden” were positive by those of us at Teen Lit Rocks. This coming of age novel that also includes a story within a story was overall, well liked and we believe that it’s definitely worth the read. If you happen to be a fan of Robert Frost’s poetry that is another perk to reading this book, it includes excerpts of many of his poems.
Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she’s about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a clue in her lap—one that might be the key to unraveling a town mystery—she decides to take a chance.
Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz are remembered as the golden couple of Summit Lakes High—perfect in every way, meant to be together forever. But Julianna’s journal tells a different story—one of doubts about Shane and a forbidden romance with an older, artistic guy. These are the secrets that were swept away with her the night that Shane’s jeep plunged into an icy river, leaving behind a grieving town and no bodies to bury.
Reading Julianna’s journal gives Parker the courage to start to really live—and it also gives her reasons to question what really happened the night of the accident. Armed with clues from the past, Parker enlists the help of her best friend, Kat, and Trevor, her longtime crush, to track down some leads. The mystery ends up taking Parker places that she never could have imagined. And she soon finds that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference.
Reader Average: B+
Diana graded the book an A
It’s difficult not to enjoy this coming of age novel about senior Parker Frost who has always done everything the way her mother expects her to. She is an incredibly outstanding student who is sure she wants to go to Stanford, her only problem is that she needs the finances. Then she finds out she is a finalist for a scholarship that will provide a full ride. The scholarship is from a foundation that was founded in memory of two high school students who died in a horrific car accident their senior year when Parker was a child.
Then through a twist of fate, Parker ends up with the journal that belonged to Julianna Farnetti, the girl killed in the accident. As Parker reads the journal, it begins to affect her own life in many ways. What makes Kirby’s story unique is that it’s not just about Parker, but it’s also about Julianna, a girl that was killed ten years ago. In many ways the story in the journal is just as riveting as Parker’s story.
To top it all off, since Parker’s last name is Frost, Kirby cleverly begins each chapter with an excerpt from one of Robert Frost’s poems and his poetry plays a part in the characters’ lives. It made me revisit Frost’s works and any book that leads you to Frost is deserving of an A rating.
Jenn graded the book an A
As someone who often walked the straight and narrow in high school, I could identify with Parker Frost. When you’re so close to reaching the goals you’ve worked for, you’re afraid to do anything that might derail you from that path. However, in Parker’s case, going “off-road” is probably the best thing that happened to her. She had no real passion for her goals and for someone who was so driven, she seemed terribly lost. So much of her life was dedicated to doing what everyone else wanted her to do. By going on one last adventure before high school graduation, she learned what she really wanted out of her life. This idea is visited often in YA lit, but what I liked about Parker’s journey is that she did it on her own terms. Her best friend Kat urged her to do something unexpected, and Parker chose to do something that was meaningful and in character for her.
I also really liked Parker’s relationship with her best friend Kat. While it’s true that Kat could be a little interfering at times, she was proud of Parker and was one of the few people who not only accepted her for the person she was, but also supported her wholeheartedly. I thought this was a great book. It has a little mystery, a little romance, but at its core, it’s a story about finding the strength to find your own path in life. I wish it had been written when I was in high school.
Keely graded the book an A-
“Tell me, what do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.”
There are a lot of YA novels that are “coming of age” stories. Many are good – some are great. Golden fell in the great column for me.
Parker Frost is that kid – you know the one – rises to her parent’s every expectation, follows all the rule, and solidly on the path to a successful if not somewhat mundane life.
Until the journal of a past student falls into her hands – the journal of half of the school’s perfect couple Julianna. The journal causes small tremors in Parker’s life and we see her start to step off of her predetermined path in an effort to unravel the mystery of Julianna and her boyfriend Shane’s perfect relationship and their tragic ending.
Through the past Parker begins to realize that how things look on the outside isn’t always how they look on the inside – that perfection isn’t always so perfect and that life is full of surprises. And that sometimes the hardest thing to do is to be true to yourself.
I am new to Jessi Kirby, but I really like her characters and prose. The cast of characters was well rounded – Kat is a great best friends always pushing Parker to step outside of her comfort zone knowing that Parker needs the nudge. Trevor is the consummate love interest – teasing Parker and leading her to second guess her interest and his. And Parker is that kid all of us – perhaps she’s even us and watching her stumble and falter and finally stride down her own path make for a wonderful read.
Jessica graded the book a B+
Jessi Kirby deftly weaves together a coming of age tale with a little mystery — and it’s very well done. It’s exciting to watch Parker take control of her life. In the course of investigating Julianna and Shane’s accident, she’s forced to stand up to her controlling mom and find the courage to reconsider her future. Then there’s the bonus of Trevor Collins, the boy who’s been flirting with her for years. He’s charming and comes to her rescue a few times — and it’s a wonder how Parker took so long to kiss him.
Her relationship with Kat is also done well. Parker’s future is leading her out of town to bigger things (Standford!), while Kat will be left behind. So their final days at school and their looming separation is an added stress and catalyst to Parker’s awakening.
I enjoyed the Robert Frost quotes (Parker is possibly a distant relative) that introduced all the chapters. My favorites were “I shall set forth for somewhere,/ I shall make the reckless choice” and “He asked with the eyes, ore than the lips…”
Melanie graded the book a B+
In Jessi Kirby’s Golden, Parker spends much of her senior year reflecting on the impact that a single decision, made however casually, can have on one’s life. As she struggles to make decisions that will please her more rebellious friend while balancing decisions to please her strict and uptight mother, she wonders what kind of decisions she should make for her own happiness.
I have often wondered (during the not-so-happy days) how my life would be different if I had decided to go to school in Michigan. would I ever have left Michigan? Would I have gotten married? Then I realize that I definitely wouldn’t have had the four (lovely) kids that I do now. That thought is just a little too freaky for me (in spite of the fact that two of them are having the most inane argument right now), and I have to stop.
I do wish that I could be at this stage of my life and not still wondering what kind of decisions I should make for the future. the fact that I can be this age and still relating to a senior in high school trying to make decisions about school and career is somewhat humbling. I feel like I should be a little bit further down the path to a career.
On the other hand, it is exciting still to have a world of possibility open to me. What is it that lies just around the bend for me?
Let’s just say, I hope there’s something…
Cara graded the book a B-
On the edge of graduating high school and winning the college scholarship that will make all her dreams come true, 17 year old Taylor takes a leap and does something unexpected on the trail of a decade-old mystery. But she discovers more than just the answers to the mystery in her quest.
The story centers on Taylor’s discovery of the private journal of a girl, Julianna, who went missing and was presumed dead 10 years ago. I enjoyed the interplay of Taylor’s story and the journal of the ill-fated Julianna. Despite their differences, the parallels between their lives were striking and poignant, each with a seemingly *golden* path ahead of them that they began to question as events in their lives unfold.
Despite this, I’m sorry to say that I couldn’t get emotionally invested in this book. Too much of the plot hinges on quirky, unbelievable elements that didn’t ring true to me. And I say this as someone who regularly reads fantasy and science fiction. The author has to make me believe and I just didn’t here. I couldn’t even understand how Taylor and Kat could be best friends. Class valedictorian and town screw-up? Has this ever in the history of teenage girls happened? Since this relationship is pivotal to the story, that’s a pretty big flaw for me.
Ultimately, I would put this in the beach read category: it’s fast paced with a light emotional payoff, but flat, stereotypical characters and predictable turns make it unremarkable and easy to put down when you want to run out for a swim.
The post Book Club Day: Golden by Jessi Kirby appeared first on Teen Lit Rocks.
Dimitri, Rose, Adrian
I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while, and of course there are SO many articles about this topic I hesitate to throw in my own two cents. But after reading three love-triangle-heavy series (“Unravel Me,” “Clockwork Princess,” “Vampire Academy”) in the last month, I couldn’t bite my tongue any more. Love triangles in YA can be fantastically written, well developed and seamlessly resolved, but more likely than not they’re excruciating and sometimes they even make you lose all sympathy for the protagonist, figuratively (or literally) curse the author, want to throw the book across the room, or yell into a pillow in frustration.
For all of those reasons, I am infinitely more interested in books with a singular love story like “Eleanor and Park,” “Divergent,” “Graceling,” “The Scorpio Races,” Melina Marchetta’s and Gayle Forman’s books, etc. etc. etc. than in books with an overarching love triangle. I don’t mind when there’s an occasional other person who flirts or is interested in half of the central romance or even existing or soon-to-be ex girlfriends or boyfriends like in Stephanie Perkins’ books, but the drawn-out “Who will she end up with?” stories kill me a little bit.
There are definitely exceptions. I think Cassandra Clare handles love triangles incredibly well (and I realize Diana and I may be two of the few people who actually loved the way she handled the Will-Tessa-Jem storyline in “Clockwork Princess”). I actually loved the brothers in Jenny Han‘s “The Summer I Turned Pretty” trilogy and had a soft spot for both Peeta and Gale in Suzanne Collins‘ dystopian epic “The Hunger Games.” But there are a few love triangle tropes I seriously have trouble with, so bear with me as I share them.
1. The Evil Guy=Hot, the Nice Guy=Boring: It bugs me when we’re supposed to forgive and forget that one of the characters in a love triangle has done seriously evil things just because he’s hot and is a good kisser. And I don’t even mean in the distant past; I mean TO the protagonist and those she loves. Sorry, but I’m not going to forget a series of maniacal and bloodthirsty acts until you do something to truly redeem yourself. Something MORE than give the protagonist a steamy makeout session.
2. Killing Off One Guy: So you know this scenario, right? Both guys have their pros and cons, and you sort of know who she will end up with, but you still care about the other guy. You have no idea how the author is going to resolve the situation, and then POOF! one guy dies. Um, what? And yeah, maybe there are other reasons that the guy died that are separate from the love triangle, but to me, that’s a cheap, cheap way to end a love triangle. I’d rather read an uncomfortable confrontation between the protagonist and the “other” guy than have one guy die.
3. The Guys HATE Each Other: I know this is strange, but I actually prefer when the two guys have a begrudging respect for each other, like Peeta and Gale did. I’m not saying they have to be blood brothers (although that’s what makes “The Infernal Devices” so unique) or even biological brothers (although that’s what made it so possible for Jeremiah and Conrad to keep loving each other after Belly “chose”), but it’s a lot better (in my opinion) when there’s jealous and hurt (obviously!) but not “I want to kill the other guy” repulsion. It’s much more interesting (and substantive) when the guys (I keep saying guys, because there are so few love triangles with two girls and one guy!) can see why the girl would have feelings for the other guy.
4. Back to Back Close Encounters: This is more about the protagonist than the guys. It bothers me when the girl kisses one guy and then within hours kisses the other guy. I’m all for exploring the feelings that pull you toward one of the characters over the other, but is it really necessary to make out with both guys (or even sleep with one and then kiss the other) in such a short timespan? Not cool, girls.
So what love triangles have you loved or hated? Which authors do it right, and which ones make you want to fling the book across the room?
The post The Problem With Love Triangles in YA appeared first on Teen Lit Rocks.
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