Friday, September 13, 2013

Two Great YA Summer Reads-

I have been reading a lot of YA lately and wanted to share a couple of the books that I really loved.  


Eleanor and Park is the kind of book that makes you conflicted. You want to rush to the end to know what happens but simultaneously you want to slowly savor every page because you don't want it to end. Rainbow Rowell is an amazing writer and I can't wait for her next effort.  

Eleanor is the new girl in Omaha and described as "big and awkward".  Quiet and shy, she stands out due to her outlandish outfits and flaming read hair.  

Park is half Korean and feels just as misunderstood and isolated as Eleanor.  Slowly and sweetly, the two bond on their bus rides to and from school over alternative music and comics.  The bus ride because "the best part of my day."

Eleanor is terrified of her abusive, creepy step-father and finds sanctuary from her home life at Park's with his hair-stylist mom and sports addicted dad. 

Both Park and Eleanor are well drawn characters who alternate narrative points of view throughout the story.  Their relationship is tested by peer pressure and bulliess, family misunderstandings and finally the domestic disturbance within Eleanor's family.  Their's is a simple and sweet story that captures beautifully the amazing power of first love, of friendship and acceptance.  I imagine all the girls who will read this and dream of finding a guy like Park.  

So I am a little late to the party with Divergent. I am very particular about the kinds of books I read.  I will probably never read a book about vampires or aliens, and I used to feel the same was about futuristic or dystopian type novels, like Veronica Roth's Divergent.  But this book was highly reccommended by my cousin Logan who is a great reader.  I felt obligated to give it a try and I am very happy that I did.  

Set in Chicago, far into the future, the society has crumbled and life is divided into five cult like factions, each dedicated to a different philosophy.  There are the Erudite who focus on intelligence, the Abegnation who believe in selflessness, Amity who want to work for peace above all else, Candor who believe in honesty at all costs and Dauntless, who use their bravery.  

The time has come for 16 year old Beatrice Pryor and her twin brother Caleb to choose their faction, complicated testing is conducted to see where you might thrive, but you have the choice to stay with they faction in which you are raised and with your family.  Up until now, meek and naive Beatrice has lived a very quiet, simple (and selfless) life with her parents and brother.  Some abnormalities occur during her test and the administrator confides to Beatrice that she is indeed Divergent and hard to control, she will be considered by the authorities to be a risk to have in any community and if knowledge of this becomes public she will most likely be killed.  

Throughout the story Beatrice is confronted with many delimmas and moral choices. This is a complex story about loyalty, trust, friendship, taking risks and being brave.  She is struggling to determine right from wrong and her life becomes bigger and bolder than she ever thought possible.   

Beatrice is a great character in an original and fresh fast paced story that kept me turning the pages and had me thinking about her decisions for days after. I can't wait to read the sequel!  Or see the movie.         

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