Tuesday, February 28, 2017

GIRL IN PIECES by Kathleen Glasgow.  Delacorte Books, 2016,  416p.ISBN 978-1101934715 hc. $18.99   Gr. 9-12    YA FIC

17-year-old Charlie wakes up in a treatment facility wrapped in bandages - so traumatized, she can’t speak to anyone.  Readers soon find out that when she was young, Charlie’s father experienced depression and drowned himself; her mother beats her; her best friend overdosed and was moved to a recovery facility across the country; and she’s been living on the streets of Minneapolis with addicts and criminals.  Unable to cope with emotions she doesn’t know how to express, Charlie cuts her arms, legs, and stomach.  After a rocky start, Charlie follows a friend to Arizona, finds work at a cafĂ©, and returns to drawing portraits of people as she observes them.  Just when her life is becoming stable, she falls in love with a junkie musician who inevitably drags her back down into emotional chaos. Charlie finally gets assistance from a co-worker recovering from drug addiction and from an artist who recognizes her talent.  This story has several recovery stories going at the same time – drugs, alcohol, self-harm – whose victims take each day as it comes and count each one a victory.  
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

LEARNING TO SWEAR IN AMERICA. Katie Kennedy. New York: Bloomsbury, 2016.  345p.  ISBN 978-161963909-6 hc. $17.99    Gr. 9-12    YA FIC

Yuri Strelnikov, a doctor of physics at age 17, is flown to Los Angeles, CA at a moment's notice to work with American scientists scrambling to prevent a huge asteroid from reaching Earth.  He's on loan from Russia where his work on antimatter is putting him in line for a Nobel Peace Prize.  In light of his own bright future, Yuri has good reason to save the world.  However, he finds himself closely supervised and isolated as he is shuttled from the laboratory to the hotel and back again.  There's tension between Yuri and NASA's Director of Near Earth Objects Program about the safest way to deflect the asteroid.  Yuri is young, but he knows physics better than almost anyone.  By chance, Yuri meets Dovie, the janitor's daughter, who helps him sneak away from his hotel and experience a bit of American life.  She introduces Yuri to her brother, Lennon, who is wheelchair-bound and has an edgy sense of humor.  The suspense never ends; only continues on from one predicament to the next until the final escape scene on the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit.  The uncrushable attitudes of Yuri, Dovie, and Lennon leave readers with hope for the future and, perhaps, future stories about these characters.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

WHEN THE SEA TURNED TO SILVER by Grace Lin.  New York: Little, Brown Books, 2016.  384p.  ISBN 978-0316125925 hc. $18.99    Gr.4-6    JUV

Following in the adventures of Newbery Honor book WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON (2009) and STARRY RIVER OF THE SKY (2014), this original Chinese folktale is the third book in Grace Lin’s trilogy.  The book opens with young Pinmei gathering bits of wisdom from her grandmother, the local storyteller.  When her grandmother is taken away by soldiers of the unscrupulous Tiger emperor, Pinmei embarks on a quest to get her back.  Pinmei and her magical friend Yishan seek the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night to trade for her grandmother.  Along the way, the courageous pair find people who transform into mystical creatures who both help and hinder their mission. Ultimately, it’s the power of storytelling that saves the day.  Lin’s illustrations are interspersed throughout the book, adding visual interest and helping readers to keep track of the many characters in this amazing adventure.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

GERTIE'S LEAP TO GREATNESS by Kate Beasley.  Illus. by Jillian Tamaki.  New York: Ferrar, Straus, Giroux, 2016.  ISBN 978-137430261 hc. $16.99      Gr. 3-5   JUV

Gertie is on a mission, as usual, and this time it involves being the best fifth-grader in the class to show her absentee mom how wonderful she is.  Her mom lives three miles away on the other side of town, while Gertie lives with her dad and Aunt Rae.  It can result in occasional awkward situations, but Gertie has her best friends Jean, the smartest kid in fifth grade, and Junior Jr., the quietest kid in fifth grade, to help her out.  Her mission is waylaid when Mary Sue Spivey, perfect in every way, moves in from California to re-focus attention on herself as the best at everything.  When Mary Sue initiates a campaign against the oil rigs where Gertie's dad works, she declares war.  Gertie's attempts to be the best often fail, resulting in hilarious and heartbreaking adventures.  She finally begins to appreciate the awesome people who care deeply about her when she looks at things from her friends' points of view.
Lynette Suckow, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI