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Poetry Friday: 25 Lives by Tongari

January 4th, 2019 (06:00 am)
contemplative

Current Mood: contemplative
Current Song: Mirrorball by Elbow

The very first time I remember you, you are blonde and don't love me back.
The next time you are brunette, and you do.
After a while I give up trying to guess if the colour of your hair means anything.
because even if you don’t exist, I am always in love with you.
I remember most fondly those lifetimes where we get to grow up together,
when you share your secrets and sorrows and hiding places with me.
I love how you play along with my bad ideas,
before you grow up and realize they are bad ideas.
(And in our times together I have many bad ideas.)
When we meet as adults you're always much more discerning. I don't blame you.
Yet, always, you forgive me.
As if you understand what’s going on, and you're making up for
all the lifetimes in which one of us doesn’t exist,
and the ones where we just, barely, never meet.
I hate those. I prefer the ones in which you kill me.
But when all's said and done, I'd surrender to you in other ways.
Even though each time, I know I'll see you again, I always wonder
is this the last time?
Is that really you?
And what if you're perfectly happy
without me?
Ah, but I don't blame you; I'll never burn as brilliantly as you. It’s only fair
that I should be the one
to chase you across ten, twenty-five, a hundred lifetimes
until I find the one where you'll return to me.

- 25 Lives by Tongari

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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Best Books of 2018

December 31st, 2018 (07:48 pm)
determined

Current Mood: determined
Current Song: What If It All Means Something by Chantal Kreviazuk

Total number of books read in 2018: 207

Here is my list of my favorite books of 2018, containing titles released and read in that calendar year. Please note that a title's placement within a category is not an indication of rank of any sort. Usually, titles are listed in the order in which they were read. Click on a title to read my review.

Blood of the Four by Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon (fantasy)
Half-Hazard by Kristen Tracy (poetry)
A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti (YA fiction)
Sadie by Courtney Summers (YA fiction)

Also of note:

I loved The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur, but it was published in 2017, so I couldn't include it in the list above! If you want to read some of my favorite Rupi Kaur poems, I shared many of them during Poetry Friday in July and August.

I listened faithfully to The Girls podcast, based on Sadie by Courtney Summers.

I enjoyed the Speak graphic novel by Laurie Halse Anderson, illustrated by Emily Carroll.

I re-read Ararat by Christopher Golden in anticipation of the forthcoming companion story, The Pandora Room, which comes out in April.

I had fun discussing the similarities and differences between the Runaways comics, novel, and television series with folks that love Marvel.

I was encouraged by the motivational non-fiction book What If You're Doing It Right? by Robin Brande.

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Best Books of December 2018

December 31st, 2018 (05:33 pm)
determined

Current Mood: determined
Current Song: Good Luck by LENACHKA

December: 15 books and scripts read

This month's standout was A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti. Annabelle, a senior in high school, attempting to cope with the emotional aftershocks of a violent event, decides to run from from Seattle to Washington, D.C. A heartbreaking, memorable story about loss, survivor's guilt, and endurance.

A beautiful, non-spoilery quote from the book:

The fury stirs, which means stuff combines with other stuff. A neutron bonks into uranium or plutonium. There's a transformation. A revolution. It can be an explosion that ruins everything, or a beautiful power that can brighten cities.

Related Posts:
Author Spotlight: Deb Caletti
Interview: Deb Caletti

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Poetry Friday: Winter by Graham Foust

December 28th, 2018 (06:00 am)
optimistic

Current Mood: optimistic
Current Song: What's Next by Youngr

By photography's gospel, I thank you,
think you back.

You fail far away from me,
waving at pain.

A perfect song is loveless
and here by your name.

Things will never be the same.
Are they the same yet?

- Winter by Graham Foust

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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Booklist: Hey There, Sports Fan

December 21st, 2018 (11:38 am)
content

Current Mood: content
Current Song: Sunday Morning by No Doubt

Hey there, sports fan! Looking for a good book? Want a sports-related story to recommend to your favorite young athletes? On your mark - get set - READ!

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin is not only a Newbery winner, but it's also one of my favorite books of all time. Though it is a mystery, one of its main characters is a high school boy who is a track star, so there's your sports angle. With over a dozen main characters of all ages, races, and backgrounds and a story filled with clues, questions, and quirks, there's something here for everyone. I love this book. Read it now.

Maniac Magee is my favorite Jerry Spinelli book and another of my favorite Newbery winners. This may not appear to be sports-related at first, but think about it: Maniac is famous for his running ability. The story's main themes are literacy, prejudice, and community. Side note: The made-for-television movie is a pale imitation of this phenomonal book. The movie tried to be a comedy and cut out some of the book's more serious events and memorable characters.

Novels by Matt Christopher are always related to sports. He wrote over a hundred books, mainly dealing with baseball, basketball, football, and soccer. Over the decades, the Christopher empire has expanded to include trendy hobbies and extreme sports such as hockey, golf, skateboarding, snowboarding, and dirt bike racing. The plots are pretty straightforward: playing in the big game, getting injured before playoffs, trying to make the team, and having a parent for a coach. If you have a reluctant reader who is into sports, give these a try. Middle schoolers might find these books too easy, but I've seen them kickstart kids' reading habits more than once. Matt Christopher has also written a plethora of sports biographies which kids read for fun, to learn about their favorite players, and for biography assignments in class.

Many of The Baby-Sitters Club books by Ann M. Martin include team sports and individual sports. Kristy and Jessi are the most athletic baby-sitters. Kristy's a self-proclaimed tomboy who loves watching and playing sports. She even has a youth baseball team called Kristy's Krushers. Jessi is a highly dedicated ballerina. Throughout the entire series, BSC showed their main characters and supporting characters training, playing, and competing in all sorts of sports. Whether competing in gymnastics, swimming, or horseback riding, the BSC always emphasized fair play and the fact that everyone's a winner.

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson follows Astrid through a summer at roller derby camp. It's her first attempt at the sport, so she falls down a lot and gets bruised a lot, but she works really hard and improves so much, all because she wants to, because she thinks it's fun and because she wants to get better. How awesome to have a protagonist who is self-motivated. This realistic and refreshing graphic novel is recommended for tweens, especially those who like Raina Telgemeier's works. Read my review of the graphic novel.

Dare I include The Gymnasts series from the early '90s? Yes, yes, I dare, because although it perhaps depicted a more idealized life than that really experienced by hardcore young gymnasts, I can't recall another juvenile series that deals exclusively with gymnastics. Written by Elizabeth Levy, this series followed a group of girls who became fast friends through the trials and tribulations of gymnastic practices and meets. Start with book #1, Beginners.

The Julie books by Megan McDonald, part of the American Girls line, take place in 1974. In Meet Julie, after her parents get divorced, Julie moves to another part of San Francisco with her older sister Tracy and her artsy mom, who runs a shop called Gladrags. Shortly after Julie starts fourth grade at Jack London Elementary School, she learns that they don't have a basketball team for girls so she asks if she can join the boys' team. The coach initially refuses her request, but Julie sticks to her guns. She learns about Title IX and turns in a petition with 150 signatures on it. The coach still refuses to hear her out, so she works up the nerve to talk to her principal about the situation and earns a spot on the team. Later books in the series, such as Julie Tells Her Story, include basketball practice and games. Learn more about the series.

Julie's best friend Ivy, who is a gymnast, has her own book: Good Luck, Ivy by Lisa Yee. In 1976, Ivy must decide between competing in a gymnastics meet or attending family reunion . . . unless she can think of a way to do both! Learn more about this book.

Lisa Yee has also written three contemporary interconnected novels which have sporty themes: Millicent Min, Girl Genius (in which the title character is a reluctant participant in summer volleyball), Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time (in which the title character would rather play basketball than study), and So Totally Emily Ebers (in which the title character also plays summer volleyball). Learn more about Lisa Yee's books.

Back to gymnastics. Gold Medal Summer by Donna Freitas puts the spotlight on 13-year-old Joey Jordan, a girl whose love for gymnastics knows no bounds. However, her friends and family are no longer as invested in the sport as she is. Her older sister, Julia, was a title-winning gymnast who retired at the age of 16. Her best friend, Alex, is also a great gymnast but doesn't want to do it any longer. Her parents are financially supportive but emotionally disconnected from the sport, not wanting Joey to go through everything Julia went through. Joey's drive is admirable, especially considering the odds she's up against at home and in the gym, and her summer story is sweet, balancing her practices and meets with her first crush, her friends, and her family. Read my full-length review of Gold Medal Summer. Read my interview with Donna Freitas.

Gold Medal Winter was Donna Freitas' next YA novel. 16-year-old Esperanza (Espi) has loved figure skating since she was a little girl. Thanks to the support of her dedicated mother and her amazing coach, who was an Olympic gold medalist, she is able to realize her dream. Due to her consistently outstanding performances and her excellent spins and footwork, she lands a spot on the Olympic team. Some teammates attempt to psych her out while others (including two boys her age who are also athletes) vie for her attention. Add in all of the press, scheduling, and travel, not to mention her mother being denied admittance to the Games due to her visa status, and Espi nearly gets overwhelmed. When she focuses back in on what she loves - skating, the feeling she gets when she lands a jump or when she's simply gliding on the ice - she is able to rise to heights she never expected. Populated with a wonderfully diverse cast led by a Dominican girl with a heart of gold and fueled by positive messages about working hard and staying true to yourself, Gold Medal Winter is a winning story. I only wish the skating passages had been more descriptive; as with most books dealing with art (be it music, acting, a competition, any sort of performance or action) I always wish I could see and hear and feel more of those important events, especially when they take place at the climax of the story.

The Amazing Days of Abby Hayes by Anne Mazer is an ongoing series about a girl who loves to collect page-a-day calendars, play soccer, and write in her journal in purple pen. Like Skye O'Shea, she has older sisters who are twins. One is a star athlete, and the other is a lawyer-in-training. Like Alice MacLeod, she has a younger brother who is super-smart. Stuck in the middle, Abby really wants to stand out in her own way. The series deals with different events at her school and her home, such as putting on a play or missing a friend who has moved away. There's a moral to every story, but without being too syrupy-sweet.

Now we're into the slightly older part of the list, with stories set in middle school and high school.

With her second novel, Taylor Morris comes out swinging. Total Knockout: Tale of an Ex-Class President has sports, school, family, and politics. After becoming class president for the third year in a row, Lucia bends some rules and gets impeached. She's shocked and determined to get her title back. Lucia's also a boxer who has regular bouts with her best friend Cooper. Read more about the book.

Janette Rallison has written two sports-related books for young readers: Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Free Throws, the story of a friendship tested by competition on and off the court, and Playing the Field, about an eighth-grader who has to get a tutor and raise his algebra grade in order to stay on the baseball team.

Megan Shull has also written multiple stories about young athletes. In Yours Truly, Skye O'Shea, Skye enters middle school and is nearly overwhelmed by her homework, her first crush, and her hockey practice. Skye really loves hockey, but she worries that she'll never be as skilled or as smart as her older sisters. In Skye's the Limit, Skye decides to go to an outdoor camp in Vancouver. Far from home, her inner and physical strength are tested as she battles homesickness, makes new friends, learns how to kayak, and bicycles her heart out. In The Swap, a 13-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl swap bodies a la Freaky Friday; he, like his brothers, is a lifelong hockey player while she is a soccer player. Read my full-length review of The Swap.
Learn more about all of Megan's books.

In No Cream Puffs by Karen Day, Madison becomes the first girl in Southern Michigan to join a boys' baseball team. She has to prove herself not only to her teammates but to her friends, her family, and her town. Set in 1980, I recommend this book to athletes of both genders. Read my full-length review.

Cassie, a member of The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick, moves to a town that doesn't have a hockey team for girls. With the help of two new friends and one girl's older brother, she tries out for the boys' team. When she makes the team, Cassie is thrilled and her friends are happy, but some jealous kids and their parents are upset, and her famous supermodel mother doesn't know what to do. This isn't the main plotline of the book, but it is extremely nice to see a girl playing what is commonly thought of as a sport for boys - and not doing it to make a statement, but because she loves it.

All right, teens: The next set of books are for you.

There are plenty of books - and movies too, for that matter - which focus on athletes training for the big game or competition, only to have accidents! injuries! obstacles! interfere in act three. Luckily, they tend to pull through and win the championship or gold medal, and everyone lives happily ever after. Right?

Thankfully, Girl Overboard by Justina Chen Headley is more thoughtful and less predictable than those stories. The girl in question, Syrah Cheng, is recovering from a snowboarding accident. What will it take for her to get back on that board again? Read my entire review!

In The Truth About Forever, my favorite novel by Sarah Dessen, running is a major theme, both literally and figuratively. Macy's father loved to run and got both of his daughters interested in the sport. Though her older sister Caroline stopped competing in track and field events in the seventh grade, Macy kept training with her father and going to meets. One morning, the day after Christmas, Macy's father dropped dead while jogging. Macy quit the team and packed up her awards. She thought she'd stopped running forever, but then she met Wes and learned two important things: you can't run from the truth, and you can't run from yourself. Read my reviews of all of Dessen's novels.

A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti also features a runner. Annabelle, a senior in high school, attempting to cope with the emotional aftershocks of a violent event, decides to run from from Seattle to Washington, D.C. A heartbreaking, memorable story about loss, survivor's guilt, and endurance.

A fun book featuring a runner: Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs. Phoebe must move to Greece in preparation for her mother's second marriage. There, she learns that Greek gods are alive and well, and so are their descendants, which include her stepdad and her classmates. Though this book is obviously a fantasy, it also has realistic drama. It's part The Truth About Forever, part Percy Jackson and the Olympians. After you've read OMG, read the sequel, Goddess Boot Camp. Click over to my review of Oh. My. Gods.

Amazing Grace by Megan Shull is an absolutely sweet story about a tennis pro who takes a much-needed break from it all. This book made me smile. Readers can't help but root for Grace to find her way. Find out more about Grace!

Elisa in Undercover by Beth Kephart is intelligent and quiet. She has a talent for writing and poetry, so she writes notes for boys in her class to give to the girls they like. Once she takes her mother's old skates down to a frozen pond, she discovers a new talent: ice skating. She tries to keep these talents hidden, but, bit by bit, a classmate, a teacher, and hopefully, finally, her family will discover them - will discover her. Read my entire review of Undercover at YA Book Central.

Jersey Tomatoes Are the Best by Maria Padian details one summer in the lives of two best friends: Henry (short for Henriette), a fantastic tennis player, and Eva, a gifted ballerina. Opposite in many ways, the girls are fiercely loyal to one another. Henry and Eva's time at separate summer camps specializing in their professional passions will test their minds and their bodies, but their friendship will prove to be unbreakable. Read my interview with the author.

In the verse novel Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas, Anke's father verbally (and otherwise) abuses her mother, older brother, and older sister - but not her. Instead, he simply ignores her, as if she were a piece of furniture. Anke enters high school and finds herself (in more ways that one) on the volleyball court. Highly recommended. Read my interview with the author. Related Booklists: Verse Novels and Tough Issues for Teens.

Jordan Sonnenblick has a knack for writing realistic fiction featuring teen guys as the protagonists. Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip follows Peter Friedman through his first year of high school. Peter has been a dedicated baseball player since he was little, always playing alongside his best friend AJ, but the summer before he starts high school, he sustains an injury which makes him unable to pitch...ever again. Frustrated and hurting inside and out, he finds himself turning to photography, a craft he learned from his grandfather. As his hobby turns into a passion and leads him to a new friend (a wonderful character named Angelika), Peter becomes a sports photographer for his school. Meanwhile, he finds himself lying to AJ about the extent of his injury, and covering for his beloved grandfather, who is becoming senile. Poignant and realistic, this is a solid story that will inspire honesty and hope.

When the book Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston begins, Hermione Winters, a senior in high school, heads off to cheer camp with her coach and her teammates, including Polly, her best friend and co-captain, and Leo, her boyfriend. Knowing this will be the last time she attends the camp, Hermione intends to make it the best one ever, to work hard, to enjoy the challenges and the routines and the music and the friendships, and to set a good example for her teammates and friends. Then, on the night of the camp dance, Hermione is raped - her cup of punch drugged by a boy, she blacks out and wakes up in the hospital. The night holds no memories for her past the blackout. She cannot remember the face of her attacker, nor does she have any recollection of what he actually did to her. All she knows is what the doctors, nurses, and detectives have put together from examining her. There are many things I love about this book, including the fact that it encourages cheerleaders to be seen as athletes, not airheads. The writing is terrific, and readers will definitely be cheering for Hermione. Read my full-length review of the book.

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock tells the story of a girl named D.J. who has to pick up the slack on her family's farm when her father's injuries prevent him from doing the bulk of the work. Her two older brothers, now away at college, were big hometown football stars. Could D.J. follow in their footsteps? Give Dairy Queen and its sequel The Off-Season to girls you know who refuse to back down when coaches tell them girls shouldn't play football or shouldn't be allowed to play on all-male teams - and tell them that YES, THEY CAN! Just say no to gender bias, I say. Click here and here for additional posts about disproving and overcoming gender-based assumptions. Continue reading my review of the D.J. books.

If you like Dairy Queen and The Off-Season by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, then you'll like the PrettyTOUGH books by Liz Tigelaar. The tagline for the series is perfect: Who says you can't be both pretty AND tough? In the first book, PrettyTOUGH, two very different sisters play on the same soccer team, one of whom would rather be surfing. The second book, Playing with the Boys, takes place at the same school with a different protagonist. Shortly after moving to town and starting a new school year, Lucy tries out for the soccer team. She doesn't make it, but the letdown is replaced by surprise when she's recruited for the boys' football team due to her awesome kicking ability. After she gets a crash course in football - and a quick crush on a popular boy - Lucy has to prove herself to her classmates, her teammates, her coach, and her widowed father. Read my interview with the author.

Take note: The PrettyTOUGH books, though fictional, are associated with the real-life girls-and-sports association PrettyTOUGH. Both the books and the association encourage young women to try out for sports teams and go for their goals. Girls CAN be both pretty and tough, both on and off of the field!

Along the same lines comes Throwing Like a Girl by Weezie Kerr Mackey, the story of a girl who joins the softball team at her new school. As they practice, Ella starts to bond with her coach and her teammates as well as a slightly older girl who used to be on the team. A nice story which values family and teamwork.

Rash by Pete Hautman surprised me with its inclusion of sports. The story, though continuous, has three definite sections to it. I preferred the first portion because I liked the set-up and the setting of the dystopic future. Deb's son may like the second portion, with its football storyline. Running is also discussed in detail.

Jake, Reinvented by Gordon Korman is a modern retelling of The Great Gatsby. In this story, Jake, the high school version of Jay Gatsby, becomes the long snapper on the football team. I greatly prefer The Great Gatsby, but this book may act as a stepping stone to the classic for those who might initially refuse to pick up Gatsby. (Please, please, read The Great Gatsby!)

Additional notes:

I consider dancing a sport, and I have created a separate booklist for dancing.

This list was initially created for Deb and her son in middle school. I then added titles for other age groups.

I can think of many other sports stories which I have not read, so I'll post some of those titles in the comments below.

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Author Spotlight: Deb Caletti

December 21st, 2018 (07:02 am)
hopeful

Current Mood: hopeful
Current Song: Pretty the World by Matt Nathanson

Deb Caletti imbues all of her stories with realistic sensibility and captivating characters. At the risk of sounding foolish while attempting to be succinct, I will say that I love all of her books, I recommend all of her books, and I think you should get them all right now. ("You" meaning "all teens and adults.")

Here are my thoughts on Deb's books, in order of publication:

The Queen of Everything

Jordan's life is about to change forever. This teenage girl thought the worse thing that could happen to her would be her artsy mother embarrassing her yet again. Then, her father - the "normal" one, the parent she chose to live with after the divorce, the optometrist - becomes the epicenter of a scandal.

I read this novel when it was released in 2002 and it haunts me to this day. To say this is simply about what happens when teenagers realize that their parents are people too would be accurate, but incomplete. This book is an absolutely amazing story of a girl, a family, and a violent crime. Stunning.

Honey, Baby, Sweetheart

Ruby's always been quiet and shy. She knows it. She embraces it. Thanks in part to her mother, the elderly members of a book group, and a boy - who may break her heart . . . or just might win it - she's about to let go, just a little bit. She does not rebel nor become completely impulsive, but she does learn to be more in control and more decisive.

Caletti's sophomore effort has a lot of heart. This is just as enjoyable as her debut novel The Queen of Everything, but with a warmer tale to tell. It will leave you smiling. Highly recommended, especially for fans of That Summer by Sarah Dessen. Honey, Baby, Sweetheart deserves every award it has received, and that in itself is a rarity.

Wild Roses

Cassie's stepfather Dino is famous. The world knows him as a talented violinist. Cassie knows him as an unpredictable and violent man. As the story progresses, he nears the brink of self-destruction. You can almost hear the walls shake and see Cassie cringe when Dino raises his voice. Meanwhile, Cassie becomes involved with Ian, another violin virtuoso - and a student of Dino's.

While there are plenty of books out there about abusive significant others, there are few - especially those shelved in teen fiction - that confront mental illness or the dynamics of stepfamilies head-on. This book has both. It is honest and unflinching.

The Nature of Jade

Jade doesn't know yet that she wants something more out of life - and that she is about to meet someone that will change her life.

Good student Jade is an overachiever who has developed panic disorder. Sometimes, the medicine she takes makes her antsy at night, so she's taken to watching the online elephant cam from her local zoo. One night, the camera shows her a young boy in a red jacket with a baby boy, and she is inexplicably drawn to them.

Throughout the course of her senior year, Jade finds herself feeling more and more out-of-place with her friends as they discuss their future plans. She's ready for her life to change, but she's not sure how. When she gets a job at the zoo and befriends the elephants and their caretakers, things seem right again.

Then she meets the boy in the red jacket face-to-face. As their relationship grows, secrets are revealed on both sides, and it is that relationship which ultimately gives her the strength to make some extremely difficult choices.

I have never worked with elephants. I never knew a Sebastian. I (thankfully) haven't suffered from panic attacks. But there was something about Jade that mirrored something in me, and that really made me connect with the character.

I enjoyed the story and the writing so much that I purposely slowed my reading speed down to take it all in. I wanted this book to last.

Note: If you've seen a book called Love is All You Need bearing Deb's name, know that it is not a new book but rather an omnibus that contains two of Deb's previously released books, Wild Roses and The Nature of Jade.

The Fortunes of Indigo Skye

This isn't yet another rags-to-riches tale, nor "a simple story of money can't buy happiness." This book is about a girl on the cusp of adulthood who actually likes her life and doesn't really want it to change that much. She would rather be poor and happy than wealthy and miserable.

(Read my full-length review.)

Many thanks to the book fairy who gave me this book! As I read, I marked my favorite lines of this pretty Skye with little white Post-It flags. There are a total of 26 little flags sticking out of the book.

True story: A few weeks after I read Indigo, a man in San Francisco left $50,000 and his car to a waitress!

The Secret Life of Prince Charming

Not every girl is looking for a Prince Charming - and not every charming guy is a prince. Though the title and cover for this book (both the hardcover and paperback editions) might make you think the titular character is the protagonist or the protagonist's boyfriend, he's neither - he's her father.

Quinn's father has left a series of women in his wake, including the mothers of his children. 17-year-old Quinn and her little sister love their mom, who, along with their aunt and grandmother, are always willing to share advice and personal stories about love, life, and heartbreak. When Quinn's boyfriend dumps her, her quest to find out why he did that leads back, interestingly enough, to her own father - not because he's involved in the breakup, but because his absence and her parents' divorce helped shape Quinn's world.

Upon learning that her father's artistic keepsakes are actually personal items that he's taken from the women he has dated or married, Quinn gathers the items and goes on a quest to return the items to their rightful owners. She brings along her sisters: Charlotte (aka Sprout), her sunny, bouncy little sister, and Frances Lee, the older half-sister she'd never met before this trip. As they follow the path of destruction their father left behind, the girls find humor, sadness, a ten-foot statue, a cat that looks like a dust bunny, and other things they didn't expect... like the truth, and forgiveness.

I headed up a roundtable discussion of this book with fellow readergirlz. Check it out.

The Six Rules of Maybe

When Scarlet's older sister Juliet comes home, she's not alone: she's brought along her husband Hayden, his dog Zeus, and the announcement that she's not only married, she's also pregnant. As the family adjusts to their new situation, Scarlet reevaluates her relationship with her sister and becomes close to her new brother-in-law. As she gets tangled up in her feelings about Hayden, thanks to her tendency to want to help people, she also becomes involved in the lives of her neighbors. But "help" and "fix" are two different things - and she might have to help herself first, for once, before she can truly help anyone else.

The meaning behind the title is revealed about 100 pages in - and fully realized later, just when it should be.

My favorite lines from the book include:

But I was just being myself, and you wouldn't believe what a relief it was. - Page 48

Maybe that was it, that I was a reading person, or a mini-adult, or an old soul, because I just never got the rules of high school. It all seemed silly. - Page 68

Stay

Teenaged Clara has chosen to put miles between herself and her abusive boyfriend - and everyone else she knows, except for her father, who remains by her side, who takes her to another town so she can be safe. Looking for hope and hoping to heal, they seek refuge in a coastal community. Clara lost her mother when she was four; her father, a writer, raised her by himself. With a lighthouse and a beach as the backdrop and new friends as the accidental instigators, she learns more about her father, her family, and herself.

One of my favorite lines from the book appears halfway through the story:

I was alone with something too big to be alone with.

As Deb said in her personal essay about the book: "If you are in any situation that sounds remotely like the one Clara was in, speak up. Tell someone. Look after yourself. Get help, if you need it. You probably need it. It's a dangerous place to be. Most of all, be safe. Please. Listen to me on this one. Deal? Excellent."

The Story of Us

Cricket, a recent high school graduate, her slightly older brother, Ben, their mother, and their faithful beagle, Jupiter, have packed up their belongings and sent the boxes ahead to a new house. Before moving, they'll spent a week with their mother's fiancee and his two daughters as well as other relatives and close friends, all gathering to take part in their mother's wedding. The only person missing will be Cricket's long-time boyfriend, Janssen, whom Cricket is purposefully, regretfully holding at arm's length. The circumstances which created this distance are explained as the book progresses, mostly in the letters Cricket writes to Janssen.

I finished reading this book on a beautiful day, full of sunshine, memories, and emotion. Just look at the picture I took, nestled in the top corner of this post. Cricket would have liked this day, I think, and so would Jupiter. And if you liked Caletti's previous novels, especially The Nature of Jade, you'll like The Story of Us as well.

(Read my full-length review.)

The Last Forever

The Last Forever by Deb Caletti is the story of a girl named Tess, and the people who have influenced her the most: her parents, each absent in a different way; her grandmother, who she hasn't seen since she was a toddler; and someone she never saw coming. The summer between Tessa's junior and senior years of high school is a summer filled with unexpected, unforgettable things. It's about finding your roots, and planting your own. It's about grief, and hope, and truth, and family. It's about the choices that are made for us, and the choices we make for ourselves. It's about celebrating what you have, honoring what you have, and knowing who you are.

(Read my full-length review.)

Essential Maps for the Lost

Both Madison (Mads) and Billy have their futures ahead of them - futures heavily shaped by their mothers. And, perhaps, by each other. When the story starts, when their stories first intersect, only one of them is present: Mads, when her morning swim leads her straight into the path of a body, a woman who has taken her own life: Billy's mother. But once Mads and Billy meet, once their lives collide, their futures change. Or is it that their options change, and their true futures reveal themselves?

(Read my full-length review.)

A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti

Annabelle, a senior in high school, attempting to cope with the emotional aftershocks of a violent event, decides to run from from Seattle to Washington, D.C. A heartbreaking, memorable story about loss, survivor's guilt, and endurance.

Additional Notes and Connections

Deb's adult novels include He's Gone and The Secrets She Keeps.

Deb's other works include an essay in the anthology First Kiss, Then Tell and the essay "The Joys and Perils of Dæmon Ownership" in the anthology The World of The Golden Compass.

Though the characters and stories are not directly connected, all of Deb's novels take place in and around the real community of Nine Mile Falls, Washington.

Deb's books are being developed into a film series titled Nine Mile Falls. Dear Vulcan Productions: Please do right by Deb's books...and please let me know when and where you're holding auditions. :)

Interviews and More

Read my exclusive interview with Deb Caletti.

I also wrote an article entitled Clamoring for Caletti which ran in the May 2007 issue of The Edge of the Forest, a publication which is sadly now defunct.

Watch Book Lust with Nancy Pearl featuring Deb Caletti.

Thank you, Deb. Your Secret is safe with me.

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Poetry Friday: The Lamplighter by Robert Louis Stevenson

December 21st, 2018 (06:00 am)
awake

Current Mood: awake
Current Song: Trip a Little Light Fantastic performed by Lin-Manuel Miranda and company in Mary Poppins Returns

My tea is nearly ready and the sun has left the sky;
It's time to take the window to see Leerie going by;
For every night at teatime and before you take your seat,
With lantern and with ladder he comes posting up the street.

Now Tom would be a driver and Maria go to sea,
And my papa's a banker and as rich as he can be;
But I, when I am stronger and can choose what I'm to do,
O Leerie, I'll go round at night and light the lamps with you!

For we are very lucky, with a lamp before the door,
And Leerie stops to light it as he lights so many more;
And O! before you hurry by with ladder and with light;
O Leerie, see a little child and nod to him to-night!

- The Lamplighter by Robert Louis Stevenson

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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Poetry Friday: When This Story Ends by Jeremy Rubolino from The Little Mermaid

December 14th, 2018 (06:00 am)
determined

Current Mood: determined
Current Song: Focus by Allie X

It's so enchanting
I'm trapped and drowning
Here for everyone to see
They don't notice
How far away I am
from everyone and everything

Silly to have gambled with my heart out on the line
I guess that's just the way it goes
But I'm holding on
I know a day will come when I can be myself again
And I hope someone will love me
When this story ends

'round in circles
Pointless wandering
And the crowd lines up again
"Give a smile, girl!"
"You make them happy"
"Bring your parents, bring a friend"

Silly that a main attraction would long so much for love
I guess that's just the way it goes
But I'm holding on
I know a day will come when I can be myself again
And I hope someone will love me
When this story ends

If someone could
Someone right for me
Finds a way to take me home again
I believe it
One day, I'll be home

Still I'm searching
'round in circles
While the crowd lines up again

- lyrics to When This Story Ends, composed by Jeremy Rubolino, performed by Poppy Drayton in the film The Little Mermaid (2018 live-action film)

Listen to the song.

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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Poetry Friday: A Fable by Louise Glück

December 7th, 2018 (06:00 am)
sleepy

Current Mood: sleepy
Current Song: My Mistake by Gabrielle Aplin

Two women with
the same claim
came to the feet of
the wise king. Two women,
but only one baby.
The king knew
someone was lying.
What he said was
Let the child be
cut in half; that way
no one will go
empty-handed. He
drew his sword.
Then, of the two
women, one
renounced her share:
this was
the sign, the lesson.
Suppose
you saw your mother
torn between two daughters:
what could you do
to save her but be
willing to destroy
yourself - she would know
who was the rightful child,
the one who couldn't bear
to divide the mother.

- A Fable by Louise Glück

View all posts tagged as Poetry Friday at Bildungsroman.

View the roundup schedule at A Year of Reading.

Learn more about Poetry Friday.

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Best Books of November 2018

November 30th, 2018 (09:00 am)
sleepy

Current Mood: sleepy
Current Song: Saint by Verite

November: 7 books and scripts read

This month's standout is Half-Hazard, Kristen Tracy's thought-provoking and evocative poetry debut. Read this snippet from her poem entitled Tell and you'll see what I mean.