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Welcome to the book blog, featuring reviews for teens from InfoSoup librarians and users!

Reviews by Elizabeth: (Seymour) Muehl Public Library

Author: Jerry Spinelli

I listened to this book on Playaway, fun, fun.

The title comes from a change to the Robert Frost line "Miles to go before I sleep", being "Smiles to go before I weep".

Jerry Spinelli never fails to tell a good story. Will Tuppence is the protagonist in this book. He has two close friends, Mi-Su and B.T. but things get awkward when both B.T. and Will are interested in having Mi-Su as a girlfriend. The other tension in the book is Will's little sister Tabby who is so darn annoying to him. Will is interested in the cosmos and atoms and science. He also likes chess. Ultimately,he is a typical teenager trying to figure it all out. This is a good "slice of life" book.

Author: Andreas Portes

Anika is a young girl trying to make sense of the world. Her father lives in Romania and she lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with her mother, stepdad and assorted siblings. Anika is the youngest.

Anika is trying to figure out the interrelationships at work and when to be courageous. She is trying to figure out interrelationships at school and when to be courageous. She is trying to figure out interrelationships at home and when to be courageous.

Two boys are vying for Anika's attention. One is named Logan who is a deeply poetic and artistic person. Unfortunately, his home life is violent. Logan is not considered a "cool" kid so Anika is very secretive about her relationship with him. Jared is a very cool kid and when he singles Anika out, it is astonishing to everyone. He respects Anika's independence but what is his real motive with her? Anika is trying to choose but her choice is made for her in an unexpected and sad way. The book is great in the way the plot takes off.

Becky is everyone's cruel nemesis and a strong bully at school. She is also deemed one of the "cool kids" so everyone feels uncomfortable crossing her. In the fabulous climax of the book, Anika finally tells Becky what everyone has been thinking. Much like when the witch in The Wizard of Oz has cold water thrown on her, Becky finally fades to nothing when the truth is told.

Written in first person, you see all through Anika's eyes. I really liked her relationship with her mom. She also has a lovely scene toward the end of the book with her stepdad.

Author: Stephanie Kuehn

This heart breaker of a book is riveting. I read it in two days! I just could not put it down.

For the protagonist 'Drew/Win', growing into adulthood is ripping him apart both physically and mentally. The author slowly gives you all of these clues about why. At first I thought I might be reading a fantasy. I mean, exactly why is this poor kid vomiting all the time? Well, you find out it is with good reason.

The teen years are confusing enough without the baggage that this character is carrying. I loved how the characters of Lex & Jordan rallied and came to his aid. I also liked how the terms of atomic science were interwoven into this book.

This line was pure poetry and repeated twice in the book: "I don't feel the presence of God here".

Congrats on this debut!

Author: Hazel Whitaker

This is a great introductory book to numerology if you want to dabble with some of the formulas for figuring out significant numbers for you!

Author: Sarah Dessen

I loved this book. Dessen serves us another great story with rich character building. The main character is Auden and she is spending a summer with her dad, her young step mom and their newborn girl. (Auden's stepsister.) She becomes friends with a bicyclist named Eli and they start spending nights together talking and drinking coffee and adventuring. Soon we find out that Eli is getting over a loss in his life. Auden becomes frightened of her intimacy with Eli and breaks off their time together. She uses some of her excess energy to learn how to bike herself. (Biking becomes a metaphor for freedom and the relationship of Auden & Eli among other things.) Auden learns that her mother and her father and her stepmother and even Eli's mother are all adults fighting with their emotions and changes just as she is. As she heads to college we are happy and hopeful for her. (This was one I listened to, great for driving!).

Author: Jim Murphy

This engaging and beguiling book tells the story of the Cardiff Giant, a cause celebre shortly after the Civil War. A cast of characters converge in this tale of how people like a good mystery. This is a terrific book for "Dig In, Read"!

Author: A.S. King

Great book! This book treats a delicate subject masterfully. Astrid is in high school and she is really enjoying philosophy class. This makes sense because she is smart and a thinker and feeler who is just trying to make sense of her world. She has a job at a catering firm on weekends where her major responsibility is deveining shrimp. And she likes to de-stress by laying down on the picnic table in her backyard and sending up love to the airplanes flying overhead--she likes to send love to the passengers who are traveling on the planes. Her landscape is populated by some not very supportive people: her mother who is self-involved and critical of Astrid; her father who is coping with their new small hometown life by abusing marijuana; her sister Ellis who is very eager to fit in and is also homophobic; her friend Kristina who is pretending to be the popular girl at school; her friend Justin who is pretending to be the popular boy at school; the love of her life, Dee, who is being too physically aggressive. Astrid ponders when she feels comfortable and when she doesn't; when she feels most like herself and when she is happy. The reader is rooting for her all the way because she doesn't want to be pigeonholed especially when she sees how much effort the people around her put into keeping up appearances (and how detrimental that can be). There are gems throughout this book but the final description of passenger #587, at the very end of the book, is very poignant and thought provoking. So good!

Author: Wendelin Van Drannen

This is a lovely book about perseverance and recognizing that everyone is struggling with something. Jessica loses her leg, below the knee, in an accident, when a vehicle runs into the bus that she is traveling on with her track team. The loss of a limb is devastating but knowing that she can't run really hurts Jessica. During the course of the book Jessica learns that she has the ability to both walk AND run again through the technology of prosthesis. As she retrains her body to adjust to her new leg and to reach for higher goals, we are cheering her all the way! She also learns about noticing other people--among them are Rosa, a peer who has cerebral palsy; Ms. Rucker, her math teacher, who is deeper than her tough veneer; Chloe, the receptionist where Jessica is fitted for her new leg, who has a story of her own to tell. I love that the accident heightens Jessica's awareness. You often hear about that kind of transformation in people. And I loved the comparison of the starting line to the finishing line and how they can be the same!