Book review time! I haven’t done some of these in a while, so here you go!
Who I Kissed – Janet Gurtler – Let me just say that this is not the type of book that I usually read. It’s a contemporary, sort of hot topic/problem novel, YA book. Generally, yuck. But, I did get it for free from Goodreads and there are lots of teen patrons at the library who will love to read this. It’s about a high school senior swimmer, Samantha, who, in order to make her crush jealous because he’s drunkenly making out with another girl (sigh, I know), she kisses his friend Alex. The bad part about this is that Alex is highly allergic to peanuts and Sam ate a PB&J before going to the party. Whoops. Alex dies on the way to the hospital. THIS IS IN THE FIRST 20 PAGES! Janet Gurtler isn’t pulling any punches.
People at school are cruel and among other weird things that happen, Sam loses her virginity to Casper, a jerky guy who is using her for a good grade on their English paper. Total jerkface. So she suffers a lot. Then at the end, the autopsy comes back and says that Alex didn’t die from peanuts. He was smoking pot at the party and died of an asthma attack! So all of the terrible things that happened to her, were basically for nothing. I thought it was a cruel thing for the author to do. But, if that’s your thing and you love allergy-based plotlines, this book’s for you.
I am the Messenger – Markus Zusak – Ed is a down and out, layabout cad driver in Australia who doesn’t really do much other than play cards with his fellow cab driver and unemployed friends. A real winner. After he helps apprehend a bumbling bank robber, he starts to receive playing cards in the mail with addresses, names and clues on them. He knows he has to do something and then with each card, he learns to help people he knows and people he doesn’t. On one card, he stops a man from raping his wife every night, for another he helps a priest fill the pews at his rundown church – by throwing a party with free beer nonetheless – and finds out that the people in his life are worth more than casual card games and missed phone calls. This is great mystery story with a twist (maybe) at the end. It’s hard to put down, with an emotional ending. Definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year, despite the fact that none of my book group teens liked it.
Lost in Shangri-La – Mitchell Zukoff – The story of two American servicemen and one WAC (Women’s Army Corps) who crash land in a practically undiscovered and unmapped valley of New Guinea during 1945. Twenty-four army members were on the sight-seeing flight when it basically crashed into a mountain that no one knew was there because it hadn’t been explored. Three survive, and while the army knew about the survivors after about two days, it takes them over six weeks to get them out.
This was a great adventure story and had some interesting information about the WACs and the cultures of New Guinea. It made me wished I had paid more attention to the New Guinea chapters of Guns, Germs and Steel. It also made me happy that I’ll probably never to have to try and escape an unmapped valley in a motorless gliders while being towed by a big plane that may or may not be have the engine power to get over the mountains that initially stranded me in the first place. Yikes. Not as good as the other WWII survival story I listened to this year, Unbroken, but still very engaging.
Two Whole Cakes – Leslie Kinzel – The author, is a hilarious writer for the website xoJane.com, among other things. Her columns routinely make me laugh and she lives in Boston, which makes me imagine we could be friends some day. She’s been at the forefront of the fat acceptance and ‘health at any size’ movements for some time. She write about learning to love her body, how she doesn’t need scales, and tries to break down some of the stigma surrounding fat people. (I’m using the word ‘fat’ because that’s what she uses and she writes in her book about not liking the words ‘overweight’ or ‘obese.’) The book is entertaining and heartbreaking and a good reminder to be happy about your body no matter what. Definitely recommended for anyone who has ever dieted or thought about it. So basically everyone.
That’s it for now. Look for my 2012 book top 15 (ten wasn’t enough) soon!