Tag Archives: bullying

Dumplin’, by Julie Murphy

Dumplin'Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Willowdean is the overweight teenaged daughter of a former beauty queen living in North Texas. You might think that would give her a bit of an insecurity complex, but Dumplin’, as her disappointed mom calls her, is actually quite content, and even confident, in her own skin. It’s that confidence that draws other girls who don’t fit the typical teenage beauty standards to Willowdean for friendship and guidance. It also attracts Bo, the hot private school boy who works with her at a fast-food restaurant and surprises her with his undeterred admiration. When Willowdean and her gang of atypical friends decide to enter their small town’s beauty pageant, a series of amusing and endearing escapades ensue. This book is pleasant read filled with the predictable teenage drama that romance, friendship and high school can bring, but stamped with its own brand of uniqueness in its small town North Texas setting (I had to Google pictures of homecoming mums to see what on earth they were!), its Dolly Parton sound track, and of course, its challenge to the American ideal of female beauty. Read this if you’re looking for some light, breezy, young adult romantic fiction. This is not the book for you if you’re seeking genuine depth or high literary quality. ~ Ms Dimmick

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The Girl Who Fell from the Sky, by Heidi W. Durrow

The Girl Who Fell from the SkyThe Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When the family falls from the roof of his Chicago tenement building, Jamie mistakes them for birds and rushes out to identify him with his bird book. Greeted instead by a tragic scene of broken bodies, Jamie discovers that the beautiful girl with fuzzy hair and electric blue eyes is the lone survivor. Rachel is moved to Portland, OR to be raised by her grandmother and aunt while Jamie is haunted by his grisly memories of the event that took her away. Rachel’s Danish mother has apparently sacrificed her family, her African American father has abandoned her, and her grandmother is left to teach Rachel how to be Black. Grandma’s Black is Southern and gospel and not at all like the Black that defines the kids at Rachel’s school. Rachel’s blue eyes, European education, proper diction and book reading habit only serve to set her farther apart. Jamie and Rachel’s interwoven stories, along with of those of other important characters, are told in alternating chapters, as the two slowly come of age in separate parts of the country. Their turbulent paths to adulthood and toward eachother reveal the bitter truth of racial prejudice and social injustice that permeates American society in the 1980s. Hauntingly told, the pieces of this well crafted puzzle fall into place as Rachel ultimately discovers the truth of her past and the potential of her future. This is a heartbreaking story about racial identity and coming of age that is sure to grab you from the first page and never let you go. ~Ms Dimmick

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Student Review: TTYL, by Lauren Myracle (review by Kristen M.)

ttyl (Internet Girls, #1)ttyl by Lauren Myracle
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Teenagers, usually pictured as selfish, savage party animals, binge drinking and experiencing pregnancies by the time we are sixteen, seem to be a popular topic in the media. The way Lauren Myracle portrays girls of the age of 15-16 is ludicrous and unrealistic. Angela Silver, Zoe Barrett, and Maddie Kinnick are three under-aged girls in the 10th grade. Experiencing a high level of drama, the main characters are subjected to a variety of commotion that most modern teens would not reach until reaching college. The novel, TTYL, includes a portion of pedophilia, drinking, cyber-bullying, and nudity. I would infer that older audiences would admire this book for its level of “lifelike” scenarios and dialogue. However, I have never directly encountered any human being with the intentions of misspelling half of all their words on instant messaging in high school. Near the end of the book Maddie’s two friends discuss about how a girl named Jana sent pictures of “maddie dancing on the table, and she was naked from the waist up”(176) after a frat party with alcohol. The “winsome threesome” (2) gossip about their school mates constantly and are subjects to peer pressure and insecurity. Although this is a quality that is very realistic with teenagers today, the characters do not show any purposeful quality. They seem like very shallow characters and I find it very hard to relate to such falsely developed personalities. I personally take offense to the fact that Myracle pictures teenagers of my age as small-minded creatures and that she has the nerve to distribute the idea. TTYL by Lauren Myracle seemingly expresses what the media feeds to its viewers about stereotypical teenagers, the novel is just as superficial as the character development, and it’s crafted with dialogue that is unrealistic and overly exaggerated.–Student: Kristen M.

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Student Review: Ender’s Game , by Orson Scott Card (review by Noah S.)

Ender's Game (Ender's Saga, #1)Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you want a book highlighting love and the inner beauty of life, then this book is not right for you. Although if you enjoy page turning action-packed sci-fi’s, then I highly recommend Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. The book grabbed my attention with its intriguing plot and unexpected turns of events throughout the novel. Ender, a young boy dealing with bullying and a psychopathic older brother, becomes recruited by the military. He moves up in his military rankings quite fast. Before Ender knows, he is wrapped up in a Bugger war to save the human race. I loved when we saw anger from Ender that always left the reader surprised, when Ender broke the boy’s arm on his flight, “Ender reached up with both hands, snatched the boy by the wrist, and then pulled down on the arm, hard” (33). I enjoyed how Scott Card would add the acts of physicality from little Ender. Card made his character exceptionally tough. It put excitement in the book that enticed the reader. Besides Ender, his siblings, Valentine and Peter, were key characters during the book. Their side stories were also fun to read. Valentine, loved by the reader, was Ender’s greatest influence. When Peter offered to team up with her to take over the world, the book stepped up to a new level. Peter’s evil attitude, threatening at times, made the reader care more for Ender, readers did not want his brilliance in the wrong hands. Connecting with the character shows that you must be enjoying the book.
As emotions ran high and pressure built, Ender’s Game’s exciting attitude gave the reader a page turning story. Four out of five, boom.–Student: Noah S.

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A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness

A Monster CallsA Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t know when I last cried so hard. As I closed the book I found myself wracked with hot, choking sobs. Rarely have I read such masterful, profound, and poignant prose. Conor suffers from a recurring nightmare, which arrived around the same time as his mother’s cancer diagnosis, but long after Conor’s father left England for America and started a new family. Such adversity would be enough to give any thirteen year-old nightmares, and poor Conor’s days aren’t much better than his nights. First, Conor’s life-long friend Lily told everyone at school about his mother. Now they all treat him like a leper; as if they might catch his misfortune if they stand too close. Then his steely grandmother arrives to “help” while his mother undergoes increasingly debilitating treatments. Finally, the ancient Yew tree in Conor’s back garden comes walking, nightly at 12:07, to torture Conor with its stories. But Conor isn’t afraid of this monster, who recognizes that “you have worse things to be frightened of.” Perhaps the monster has come to help? Aren’t there promising cancer drugs derived from Yews? Conor awakes after each visit and story convinced that the monster is just another nightmare (not nearly as terrifying as the original), when physical evidence of its visit is revealed: “short, spiky Yew tree leaves” carpet his bedroom floor, or “From a knot in a floorboard, a fresh, new and very solid sapling had sprouted, about a foot tall.” Conor begins to anticipate the monster’s visits, and its disturbing stories, with hope. This tale of a young teen confronting unimaginable demons might look like something for middle-grade readers, but I challenge any adult to resist its pull. Sensitively told and hauntingly illustrated, this story will stay with me for a very long time.

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Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons WhyThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was really hesitant to read this book. After all, thirteen reasons seems like a lot to grapple with when you’re talking about teen suicide. Once you start, however, there’s no stopping. That’s what happened to Clay when he got the tapes. The thirteen audio tapes Hannah Baker recorded before she killed herself (yes, tapes, but don’t worry, this is a current story. Tapes are all Hannah could find to record her reasons on. All thirteen sides). Once the shoebox of tapes arrives in the mail, and Clay starts to listen, he can’t stop. He needs to figure out why he’s on the list of 13 people Hannah sent the tapes to. What did he do? The story is an told as an interwoven narrative between Hannah’s recorded voice and Clay’s reaction and the flashback memories that the tape triggers. The more we learn about Clay through his reactions, the more we hope that there is some mistake. He seems too nice to be be “a reason,” especially compared with the cruel and thoughtless characters revealed on each side of the tape. Plus, he liked Hannah. A lot.

Now you have to read it to, without stopping. Just like Clay. That’s the only way you’ll find out.

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Parrotfish, by Ellen Wittlinger

ParrotfishParrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Angela, a High School sophomore, decides to stop living life as a lie and outwardly assumes the gender he’s always been on the inside. He cuts his hair short, binds his chest, dons boys’ clothing and changes his name to Grady to emphasize the ambiguity (grayness) of his gender. While this was a big decision, it feels natural to Grady, so it’s hard for him to come to grips with the reaction of his family and friends, which ranges from confusion to horror and embarrassment. Thank goodness for Sebastian, the bookish geek in Grady’s AV class who helps him to put it all in perspective. The story is lighter than you might expect, and told with sensitivity and humor.

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