- The cassette tapes arrive two weeks after a classmate’s suicide, and each recipient is instructed to listen to the tapes and mail them to the next person on the list—or else there will be consequences and possibly criminal charges. Each person on the list figured in the sender’s emotional unraveling, some simply missed the warning signs, some pushed her over the edge. With the opening pages, this book’s ending is revealed. Still, between those opening pages and the final pages, Jay Asher delivers a suspenseful tale that is a haunting eulogy.
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A teen reader recommended this book, well, actually handed it to
me and said it was a must-read. I was in the middle of reading Go Set a Messenger, which I put aside to start Crazy, so, um, this better be good.
This story is very much in the vein of Love Letters to the Dead, an introspective narrative interspersed with poetry that moves the story along at a fast clip. The story, set in the early 1960s against a backdrop of JKF’s assassination and high school home economic classes and sewing projects, addresses the toll that mental illness takes on a family and the shame that a 15-year girl experiences as she comes of age with an erratic and unpredictable mother. While the main character finds comfort in her paints and easel, when her mother, a once-promising artist, begins painting, it precipitates a nervous breakdown. Readers will discover the limits of treatment for mental illness and the limitations and conformity expected of young women in that era.
This was a really enjoyable read, but now I turn my attention and eyes to Scout and Atticus.
This book is really something.
It all starts innocently enough on the first day of school when seventh-grader Pierre Anton declares that nothing matters, nothing is worth doing, and he walks out. Perched in a tree, he taunts his former Danish classmates with nihilistic and existential declarations. Soeren Kierkegaard would be proud.
His classmates struggle and conspire to prove that, indeed, there is meaning in the world, but their efforts descend into a macabre and modern-day version of Lord of the Flies. This book by Janne Teller is thought-provoking, subversive, and a substantial read.
It’s a little late, but here’s more ink and praise for YALLWEST 2015 courtesy of Publishers Weekly.
The April 11-12 YALLWEST festival for YA authors and readers was amazing and beat all attendance expectations–with possibly 8,000 in attendance at this two-day fest at Santa Monica High School and Santa Monica Public Library. The energy was high on day two at the smaller venue, Santa Monica Public Library, and the action spilled onto the sidewalks (as evidenced in the photo), plus the special sessions were standing room only. Organizers are coy about the potential for a YALLWEST 2016, but keep your ear to the ground. After years (decades?) of neglect, the YA genre is thriving and coming of age!
Guess who, what jumped the gun on the L.A. Times Book Fest?? Pseudonymous Bosch, Ransom Riggs, and more than 30 other New York Times Bestsellers YA authors will take center stage at Yallwest, a 2-day book festival that will include panel discussions, story mobs, food trucks, live music, and more. Looking forward to volunteering and mingling at this event. See you there!
http://www.yallwest.com/ for more info.