Book Review : Golden Boy

Golden boy by Tara Sullivan.  Putnam’s, 2013.  354 p.  Junior Library Guild selection.

Habo is different.  While his mother and siblings have dark brown skin and black hair, Habo’s skin is pale white, and his hair is yellow.  He cannot be out in the sun and his blue eyes are weak.  He is little help around the farm because he has to stay in the shade all the time.

When his family loses their farm, they have to go live with Auntie and her family in Mwanza.  After a long and disturbing journey through the Serengeti National Park, where they encounter a poacher, Habo’s family reaches safety … or so they think.  Habo learns that he is an albino and that people in Mwanza believe albinos are good luck medicine.  Several have been brutally murdered and dismembered with no police action taken.  Habo must hide until his family earns enough money to buy train tickets to the capital in Dar es Salaam, where albinos are tolerated.  Once again, Habo feels useless and a burden to his family.

Then one day, the poacher shows up … and this time his prey is not the elephants, but Habo himself.  Fleeing for his life, Habo takes what little money the family has earned and sets off for Dar es Salaam by himself.

Once in the big city, Habo is at a loss.  Terrified of being seen and shunned (or killed), he sneaks into an old man’s yard one night to find food.  This one action will change his life forever.

Can Habo find his place in the world?  Will he ever be safe from the pursuit of Alasiri, the poacher?  Or will he forever be an outcast, a zeruzeru (zero-zero), in his homeland?

Book Review : Butter

butter bookButter by Erin Jade Lange.  Bloomsbury, 2012.  296 p.

No one really notices Butter, even though he weighs over 400 pounds.  The only time he feels appreciated is when he’s online chatting with Anna, a girl in his class who doesn’t know he is the person behind the “SaxMan” handle.  Online, he is a smart, suave, saxophone player; in school, he’s just the big kid sitting behind her in English class, not worth a second look.

So when Butter sets up a website announcing his intention to eat himself to death on New Year’s Eve, he figures no one will really notice — and if they do, they won’t care.  To his surprise, his website makes him a school celebrity.  Suddenly, he has friends to hang out with on the weekend and eat lunch with … but do they really like him or are they just caught up in the novelty of his crazy suicide attempt?  As New Year’s Eve approaches, Butter has to decide whether he can really go through with it.  If he doesn’t, everyone will think he’s a liar; if he does, he’s a “legend” … but a dead one.


Book Review : Thousand Words

Thousand words by Jennifer Brown.  Little, Brown, 2013.  284 p.  [FIC Brown]9780316209724_view

Ashleigh misses her boyfriend Kaleb, who has been spending most of the summer with his baseball buddies.  He’s leaving for college soon, and she’s worried he’s starting to drift away from her.  At an epic pool party, Ashleigh’s friends suggest she send him a nude photo to remind him what he’s missing, and she’s drunk enough to do it.   Kaleb loves the picture and promises he’ll delete it from his phone so no one else can see it.

Fast-forward to fall, when the strain of a long distance relationship leads to a messy break up.  Ashleigh’s friends play a prank on Kaleb’s house to get back at him for dumping Ashleigh … then Kaleb decides to pay her back by texting the photo to one of his friends.  Suddenly, everyone is getting the photo on their phones, and Ashleigh is getting nasty messages from total strangers.  When a parent sees the photo on her child’s phone, the school authorities get involved … including Ashleigh’s dad, the superintendent.

Arrested for distributing child pornography, Ashleigh is sentenced to community service.  The school board is calling for her father’s resignation.  What started out as a dare now threatens Ashleigh’s reputation, her friendships and her father’s career.  How can one stupid mistake change a life so drastically?

Book Review : Irises

Irises by Francisco X. Stork.  Arthur A. Levine, 2012.  (FIC Stork)

 Kate and Mary are sisters.  Their mother has been in a vegetative state ever since the car accident their father still blames himself for.  When he dies suddenly, the girls are forced to make some hard decisions.  The deacons of the church where their father was the minister give them a deadline to leave the parsonage and their father’s life insurance claim is denied.  How will the girls survive?

 Should Kate marry her boyfriend, Simon, and let him “take care” of them all?  Or should she hold on to her dream of going to StanfordUniversity?  Who will take care of Mary, who is still underage?  As the girls struggle with grief, they must decide what choices are best for both of them.  In the end, will this trial bring them closer together – or tear them apart?

Book Review : Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth.  Katherine Tegan, 2011.  (FIC Roth)

 Beatrice has grown up in the Abnegation faction.  Now she is about to turn 16 and it’s time to choose whether to stay in her faction for life or choose one of the others (Amity, Dauntless, Erudite or Candor).  Usually, the aptitude tests administered by the government show a clear preference for one of the five factions, but Beatrice’s test is inconclusive: she is Divergent.

 With the choice entirely up to her, Beatrice chooses Dauntless and begins her training for initiation into the faction.  Only ten candidates can join the faction; the rest will be cast out to live factionless in the slums of the city.  Not only does Tris (her new name, to fit her new faction) have to make it through the physical and mental challenges of the training, she has to watch her step.  Some of her fellow initiates will stop at nothing to climb to the top of the rankings … and she has been warned to keep her Divergence a secret. 

 When Tris and her trainer, Four, uncover a terrible secret about the faction leaders, will it be too late to stop the war that has been simmering underneath the calm façade of the city?


Book Review : A Grown-up Kind of Pretty

A grown-up kind of pretty by Joshilyn Jackson.  Grand Central, 2012.  (FIC Jackson)

 When Ginny was 15, she gave birth to Liza.  When Liza was 15, she gave birth to Mosey.  Now Mosey is about to turn 15 and Ginny is sure some calamity is about to strike the family again.  Liza recently had a devastating stroke and when Ginny decides to take out the old willow tree in the backyard in order to put in a pool to help her with her physical therapy, a secret is uncovered. As Mosey tries to figure out what’s going on, Liza struggles to communicate what she knows and Ginny does her best to hold things together for her fragile little family.

What was buried in the jewelry box under the willow tree?  Was Liza’s stroke the result of her drug-addicted past, or is there a more sinister cause?   Is Mosey doomed to follow her mother and grandmother down the path of teenage motherhood?

Book Review : Cinder

Cinder by Marissa Meyer.  Feiwel and Friends, 2012.   (FIC Meyer)

 Cinder lives with her stepmother and two stepsisters in New Beijing.  Her best friend is her android Iko, and she works as a mechanic to earn money to support the family.  Cinder is a great mechanic because she has an affinity for machines; after all, she’s part machine herself.

 When Cinder’s mechanic skills attract the interest of handsome Prince Kai, it looks like a great opportunity.  But then Cinder’s favorite stepsister falls ill with the deadly plague that has been spreading across the planet and, blaming Cinder for it, her stepmother “volunteers” her for plague research.  No cyborg has survived the research – until Cinder comes along.

 Suddenly, Cinder has attracted the attention of not only the Prince and the head research scientist but the evil Lunar Queen Levana.  What secrets does Cinder’s cyborg body hold? 

 This futuristic twist on the “Cinderella” story is the first book in the Lunar Chronicles quartet.  The next book, Scarlet, comes out early next year.