Monday, February 7, 2011

Love Drugged

Problem: Fifteen year old Jamie is gay and he doesn't want to be. 
Solution: "Date" one of the hottest, richest girls at school whose dad happens to invent pharmaceuticals, one of which happens to be a drug that suppresses homosexual tendencies just like an allergy pill.
Result: Kind of a lame and definitely not-believable story.  Jamie is actually just afraid to tell his parents, which is probably one of the hardest things for a gay person to do so I'm not making fun of that.  The emotions and motivations of the Jamie are completely realistic, but every other character is so incredibly under-developed it just doesn't work as a story.

Or maybe I shouldn't have read Will Grayson, Will Grayson before I read this.  Sorry James Klise - you get an A for effort and honesty, but nothing else.  I know this is a short review but there's really not much else to say. 

Note: This book was read for possible inclusion on the 2011/2012 YARP list.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Great Wide Sea

Ben's life is turned upside down when his mother dies in a car crash.  In an attempt to cope with his loss, his father decides to pull Ben and his two brothers, Dylan and Gerry, out of school for a year and sail the Bahamas.  Although sailing has always been a part of Ben's life because of the lake near their family house, sailing in the great wide sea is completely different.  Instead of finding the perfect first car, Ben now has to concentrate on things like staying awake for his night shift at the tiller and not going crazy on their cramped 30 foot sailboat.  Conflict rises between Ben and his dad on several occasions, and leads to Ben resenting his dad and his decision to take this trip (not that he ever really liked it in the first place).  One morning Ben wakes up and realizes his dad never woke him for his shift.  In fact, his dad is no where to be found.  At 16, Ben is now in charge of keeping his younger brothers safe and locating a harbor, which will be an almost impossible task...a massive storm is almost upon them, their GPS is gone, the radio won't work, and the emergency locator disappeared with their father.

Other reviews may not laud the book much, but I disagree! M. H. Herlong has written high adventure for boys.  Not only is it an entirely male cast, there's all kinds of crazy almost-mortal-peril moments and a total "Survivor" part of the story.  Ben's frustration with his dad seems completely realistic to me.  A different reviewer criticized the repetitiveness of the emotions, but you find me a teenager (boy or girl) who has just lost a parent and has been taken away from the only home they have ever known by the other parent who has seemed to go off the deep end (somewhat literally) and just try to convince me that they're gonna be hunky dory in a year.  I stayed awake way longer than I should have for several nights because I was so interested in what was going to happen to these three brothers. This was a really fun book!

will grayson, will grayson

Have you ever read a book and realized at the end of it you feel emotionally drained but you had no idea you were so invested until you finished?  That's how this book made me feel.  It was almost like not realizing you're holding your breath until you exhale.

Will Grayson has been best friends with Tiny Cooper since they were little kids and they couldn't be more different.  Will is slightly aloof, very rumpled and straight.  Tiny is the high school football team's best offensive lineman, loud, and spectacularly gay.  One of Will's rules for getting through life smoothly is "shut up."  Tiny rarely shuts up.

will grayson is depressed and he's got the meds to prove it.  life with his single mom isn't very bright.  high school is just something to fill the day.  his only bright spot is isaac - his online pseudo-boyfriend. 

Both Will and will live in Chicago suburbs, and one cold night their paths cross, changing both of their lives.  As one might expect, Tiny Cooper is at the center of it all.

John Green and David Levithan are a fearsome author pairing to behold!  Admittedly, this is the first thing by John Green I have read, but this is not my first David Levithan.  Wry humor and serious emotional depths are not mere literary devices in this book, they are the meat. There is a good reason this book was a Stonewall Honor Book for 2011.

Be ye warned: foul language doth run amok in this tome.  Though, I suspect thou wouldst hear the same if thou wert a fly on the wall in thy local school cafeteria.