The Rundown- August ’16

Another reason I love my new job: I was able to read three books this month, even with school starting!

16616258._SY540_Everyday by David Levithan (new read)

The blurb I read about this story is what made me want to pick it next. “A” is a genderless, soulless being that inhabits a different body each day. A is aware of what happens to it, and has its own feelings and opinions, but no body to call its own.

Each day A wakes up in a new body. They are all about the same age and live within a few hours of each other. Because of this, sometimes A is able to see people from multiple perspectives. A traditionally tries not to become very involved in the life of the person it inhabits, until he falls in love with a girl named Rihannon. Then all bets are off!

This was a really interesting book, and definitely a new take on the “freaky friday” syndrome. I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen after A broke its own rules and became attached to someone it met for a day.

VERDICT: I think this book has a wide appeal and is unlike any other story I can think of. It was also really easy to read and full of suspense, which I adore. I’m going to agree with its inclusion on the list!

 

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (reread) BridgeTerabithia6

I know I read this book in fifth grade for class. I have no memories of whether or not I liked this book, only the tragedy of the book. Something that did surprise me is that there was a good bit of swearing, which makes me wonder if this book was read aloud and the teacher skipped over those words 🙂

Jesse doesn’t have many friends until Leslie moves to town. They bond over their outsider status and create their own magical world called “Terabithia.” At times, their conversations seem much more mature than their ten years, but then you think of all the things they’ve been through in that amount of time.

I don’t want to completely spoil it for those that haven’t read it, but I think most of the reason it is so widely praised is because of its not-so-happy ending. Kids are able to go through it without having it happen to them in real life.

VERDICT: This Newbery Medal winner earns its place for helping children deal with their first dose of tragedy.

*Check out Ashley’s review HERE*

231804The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (reread)

I went from one tragic read to another. However, this one skews to the older crowd. It’s very raw and realistic. I found out after reading that the author wrote it in high school! That makes it all the more impressive.

It has remnants of West Side Story, in that there are rival gangs in a big city around the same time frame. The Socs and the Greasers are divided by their socioeconomic status. The “outsiders” are the Greasers, and that’s the group whose lives we get an indepth look at, thanks to Ponyboy Curtis, our narrator.

It is amazing the relevance that this book still has today. Some of the details could easily be changed and you would swear it was written about life as it is now. It has such a timeless quality.

The importance of this book and the insight it gives cannot be overstated. It peels back the layers of both groups of teenagers and examines their motivations for the things they do, as well as the circumstances surrounding them.

VERDICT: As heartbreaking as this book is, the importance of understanding where others come from is a universal truth that all young adults need to be aware of. Definitely should be included!

 

The Rundown- March ’15

Matilda by Roald Dahl (reread)

61K2r4blw5LI don’t remember the first or last time I read Matilda, but based on my movie tie-in cover, I bought it sometime in 1996. Roald Dahl was one of my favorite authors as a child (yes, this book definitely stretches that “young adult” label), so I know I read this several times.

Many of the details from this story were pretty fuzzy to me, so I was glad to get a chance to read it again. Matilda is a neglected child, whose parents are completely self-involved and downright mean to their daughter. She has to find ways to cope, so she spends time at the library reading tons of books. Once Matilda begins attending school, she is faced with an awful headmaster (Ms. Trunchbull) that is cruel to the students, especially the youngest ones. Without giving too much away, Matilda discovers a special ability that her teacher, Ms. Honey, helps her use to try and get revenge on Ms. Trunchbull.

The first thing that struck me as I started the book is that the parents were much more vile than I remembered. Rather than being comically evil, they are just mean and terrible people! Actually, almost all of the adults in this book are awful, except for Ms. Honey. Dahl uses their names to help the reader immediately know who is good or bad. The aforementioned Ms. Honey is exactly as her name suggests, and Matilda’s parents are the Wormwoods. I love those details!

This book will definitely appeal to kids, especially those who feel they have been wronged by the adults in their lives. I hope they don’t get any ideas though…

** I’ve seen the movie multiple times, and while it is a great movie, they add quite a few scenes that aren’t in the book, particularly near the end.

VERDICT: This is a toss-up for me. It’s a good book, but I don’t know if I think it’s one of the best of all time, especially when a superior Roald Dahl book also made the list. Read it and find out for yourself!

Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Patterson (new read)403px-jacobihavelovedbookcover

I have a confession to make—for my entire life, I thought that this was an old-timey romance novel, and that is why I never had an interest in reading it. Look at some of the covers out there and tell me you don’t think the same thing! Turns out, the title is actually a scriptural reference to the Biblical story of Jacob and Esau. (Romans 9:13 is the direct verse).

The book takes place in the 1940s on an island on the Chesapeake Bay. Caroline and Louise are twins, with Caroline drawing all the attention because she is prettier, more talented, etc. The story is essentially about Louise trying to step out from Caroline’s shadow and making an identity for herself. When the story begins, the girls are about 13 or 14, but by the end, about 10-12 years have passed.

I found this story difficult to get into at first. There were a lot of fishing/crabbing references, as that was the occupation of the father. Louise and her friend, Call, helped as well. Since I know nothing of that world, I struggled through those chapters, mind wandering and all. About a third of the way through the book, Patterson introduced a character, “The Captain,” that was returning home to Rass Island after a long stint away. That livened up the plot for a while. As his part in the story lessened though, so did my interest.

By the end of the book, I was pretty ready to just be done. For a “young adult” book, the amount of time that passed in the story was kind of odd. As I read about Louise in her 20s, as she became a mother and midwife, some of the passages and phrases just didn’t seem that appropriate for the age of the reader. This book also won a Newberry Medal, which I admit I am somewhat surprised by.

VERDICT: Maybe I just couldn’t relate to this book (being the oldest child), but I could definitely have gone through life just fine without reading it. As such, this is one I would have kept off the list.

What do y’all think? Have you read either of these books? Should they have made the list?