Copper Sun by Sharon Draper
I have read quite a few books that deal with the issue of slavery. I've definitely read some powerful tales, but those have all been written for adults rather than for young adults. I was thinking that Copper Sun, by Sharon Draper, would be like other young adult books about slavery that I'd read: kinda simple and unrealisticly toned-down for the reader. I was wrong.
Copper Sun starts in Africa, where the main character Amari is leading a happy life as a member of her tribe. This life is shattered, though, when white men and join forces with a nearby tribe to capture and sell-off the healthy, young members of Amari's tribe. After her capture, Amari is marched toward the African coast and loaded onto a slave ship. She knows that she'll see her homeland again.
Once on the ship, Amari faces unspeakable horrors. With great detail and imagery, Draper captures the feelings and the picture of what the slave ship experience must've been like for a teen girl. Once Amari arrives on the shores of the Colonies (the story takes place before the US became a country) her just just becomes more and more realistic and horrific.
I think that those of you who enjoy historical fiction would love this book. I think that this story could appeal to a male or female audience. It does have a bit of length to it, but it is suspenseful and intriguing. I was extremely impressed by the quality of the writing and the way the author researched the material for this book. She literally went to most of the places mentioned in the book, including Africa.
So, if you'd like to check out this book, I've included it on the shelves at the back of the room. Enjoy.
Charity Girl by Michael Lowenthal
I actually read this book for an adult book club that I belong to. I chose to inculde it on this blog and on our free reading shelf because it seemed like a story that some of you might find interesting.
Charity Girl is the story of a seventeen year-girl named Freida Mintz. It takes place during WWI in Boston. Freida is Jewish and has recently run away from home because her mother basically sold her off to an older man in marriage. Freida thinks the older man is gross and decides that she'd be better of scraping a living together. She is a teenage girl, though, and loves to dance. When she meets a young soldier who sweeps her into a fun-filled adventurous evening, she doesn't think twice about sleeping with him. A fe days later, an older woman comes to Freida's job and tells her that she's been named as carrying an STD (sexually transmitted disease).
Freida ignores the woman, but soon after she starts to experience pain and all of the other signs of an STD. She loses her job and is eventually arrested for spreading a disease to an officer. She is locked up in a home with other girls who're infected with STD's. This story sounds unreal, but this actually happened to thousands of girls during WWI. The men who slept with the women were free to continue with their lives, but the women were imprisoned without legal charges, without lawyers, and without the ability to defend themselves in any way.
This is an interesting read for anyone who enjoys historical fiction, especially from a young woman's point of view. It's not super long and it moves along pretty quickly. If you'd like to check it out, it's at the back of the room on the free reading shelf.
Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson
Our book of the week comes from Laurie Halse Anderson, a successful author of YA lit. I've read all of her books now, including Speak, Prom, Fever 1793, Chains and Twisted. She has another book coming out this month, so stay tuned if she's one of your favorites.
The major way that Twisted differs from her other titles is that it is told from a teen boy's perspective. Tyler, the main character, was a dork in high school until he is caught defacing the school with misspelled graffiti. Once he has a parole officer and is forced to complete community service, his status changes. Suddenly, the girl of his dreams no longer ignores him. This is a turn for the better on one hand, because he really wants to get with her, but it's also a negative turn because when something horrible happens to her he is the first one accused.
What I truly enjoyed about this book was getting to know Tyler. He was a pretty funny character and seemed to speak and think like an actual teen. The plot was not the most exciting, but I definitely wanted to find out what would happen to him in the end. I found myself rooting for him, nervous that he would not find a way out of his troubles when times got too tough for him. This is not a long book, but it's not short either. It's not super thrilling, but seems realistic. I think you'll like Tyler once you meet him. He's a good guy.
Tweak by Nic Sheff
Okay. I want to say right up front that this book is not for everyone. It's probably only going to be a meaningful read for a handful of students and grown peoples. This book has deeply affected me. I've had nightmares, headaches, stress, and a slight depression ever since I've started reading it. I finally finished, though, and the brain and body affects have lifted.
Tweak: Growing Up on Amphetamines by Nic Sheff is the author's autobiographical account of his struggle with drug addiction, loneliness, prostitution, crime, rehab, and near-death experiences. It is graphic in its language and its scenes of drug use, sexual exncounters, and the emotional rollercoaster of this young man's life over the course of two years. This is NOT for everyone. Really.
I actually don't quote know how this book became classified as a young adult read. I truly struggled with whether or not I should profile this book as the Book of the Week or even put it on the shelves for free reading. I finally decided that I did need to allow this book to have a fighting chance at the back of the room because it is a TRUE story. This what this young man really went through and continues to go through. Therefore, I think that it does have the opportunity to influence some of your lives. Choose this book with care. Let me know what you think of it.
Though the title of the book Sweethearts, by Sara Zarr sounds like a romance, it is actually more of a mystery. Sweethearts is about two young children, Jennifer and Cameron. They are friends because they are both outsiders in school. Jennifer is overwieght and often teased by classmates about her size. Cameron's father drinks too much and he lives in constant fear of his father's abuse. Because of they're different they bond together and form a tight friendship. Suddenly, though, Cameron disappears one day and is not heard from again.
Fastforward ten years. Jennifer, now Jenna, has transferred to another school. She has lost weight and is extremely popular. She has tons of friends and a popular boyfriend. Still, though, she thinks about her old friend Cameron and wonders if the rumors that he died are true. Her whole new perfect life is turned upside down when Cameron suddenly reappears after being gone for a decade. Where did he go? Why is he suddenly back? Will Jenna be able to fit Cameron back into her life? Will her new friends find out about the unpopular, overweight Jennifer that she's worked so hard to hide?
This is probably more of a book for girls, though I can see how the mystery might entice some boys to read it. It is not a super long read and it goes pretty fast once you get into it because of its suspenseful plot. Most of the characters are pretty realistic, though some are pretty flat. I think that Sara Zarr is a solid new writer of young adult lit and that we'll be reading more of her books in the future! (She has another book called Story of a Girl. I have couple of copies if you're interested in that title.)