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Books, New, Rebecca

New Books

28.10.13 | Comment?

with real people and real problems:

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFormerly Shark Girl, Kelly Bingham (304 pages) – It’s been a year since the shark attack that took Jane’s arm, and with it, everything she used to take for granted. Her dream of becoming an artist is on the line, and everything now seems out of reach, including her gorgeous, kind tutor, Max Shannon. While a perfectly nice guy from her science class is clearly interested in Jane — removing her fear that no one ever would want a one-armed girl — Jane can’t stop thinking about Max. But is his interest romantic? Or does he just feel sorry for her? Formerly Shark Girl picks up where Kelly Bingham’s artful, honest debut novel left off, following Jane as she deals with a career choice (should she “give back” by trying to become a nurse, or is art an equally valid calling?) along with family changes and her first real romance — all while remembering who she was before she was Shark Girl and figuring out who she is now.

First lines: “Over a year ago, /I went into the ocean /with my whole life /planned out, expected, /casually tucked between pages /of a sketchbook. /That all changed in a heartbeat. /A shark /took my arm /and nearly took my life.”

How I Lost You, Janet Gurtler (309 pages) – There are a few things Grace Anderson knows for sure. One is that nothing will ever come between her and her best friend, Kya Kessler. They have a pact. Buds Before Studs. Sisters Before Misters. But in the summer before senior year, life throws out challenges they never expected. And suddenly the person who’s always been there starts to need the favor returned. Grace and Kya are forced to question how much a best friend can forgive. And the answer is not what they expected.

First lines: “The boys were watching us, trying to get us to make mistakes. I knew from the swear words they were flinging around that they’d underestimated us. Inexperienced players shouted a lot. Kya and I didn’t.”

book cover courtesy of Syndeticsfml, Shaun David Hutchinson (304 pages) – Tonight’s the night: Simon’s big chance to finally get with Cassie. Cassie, who he’s loved for ages. Cassie, who is newly boyfriend-free. Cassie, who just happens to be throwing the biggest party of the year. Simon’s plan is simple: He’ll go to the party, she’ll fall in love with him, they’ll make out like crazy, and the night will be a complete success. But things don’t ever go as planned…especially when it comes to Cassie.

First lines: “I decided for about the hundredth time tonight that I’m not going to Cassandra Castillo’s spring break barter party. Then I changed my mind.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsCounting by 7s, Holly Goldberg Sloan (384 pages) – Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life … until now. Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read

First lines: “We sit together outside the Fosters Freeze at a sea-green, metal picnic table. All four of us. We eat soft ice cream, which has been plunged into a vat of liquid chocolate (that then hardens into a crispy shell). I don’t tell anyone that what makes this work is wax.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFangirl, Rainbow Rowell (433 pages) – Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan. But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words … And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone. For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

First lines: “There was a boy in her room. Cath looked up at the number painted on the door, then down at the room assignment in her hand. Pound Hall, 913. This was definitely room 913, but maybe he wasn’t Pound Hall – all these dormitories looked alike, like public housing towers for the elderly.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHurt, Tabitha Suzuma (400 pages) – At seventeen, Mathéo Walsh appears to have it all. He is a champion diver and a hot prospect for the upcoming Olympics. He is a heartthrob, a straight A student and lives in one of the wealthiest areas of London. He has great friends and is the envy of many around him. And most importantly of all, he is deeply in love with his girlfriend, Lola. He has always been a stable, well-adjusted guy … until one weekend. A weekend he cannot seem to remember. All he knows is that he has come back a changed person. One who no longer knows how to have fun, no longer wants to spend time with his friends, no longer enjoys diving. Something terrible happened that weekend – something violent and bloody and twisted. He no longer knows who he is. He no longer trusts himself around people: he only wants to hurt, wound and destroy. Slowly, he begins to piece back the buried, fragmented memories, and finds himself staring at the reflection of a monster.

First lines: “He opens his eyes and knows instantly that something is terribly wrong. He senses it through his skin, his nerves, his synapses, even though, spread-eagled on his back, all he can see is the frosted light-fitting on his bedroom ceiling. The room is white, violently bright, and he knows that it is a sunny day and he forgot to close the curtains, just as he knows, from the belt cutting into his side, the denim against his legs, the clammy cotton sticking to his chest, that he slept in his clothes.”

book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Milk of Birds, Sylvia Whitman (384 pages) – Fifteen-year-old Nawra lives in Darfur, Sudan, in a camp for refugees displaced by the Janjaweed’s trail of murder and destruction. Nawra cannot read or write, but when a nonprofit organization called Save the Girls pairs her with an American donor, Nawra dictates her thank-you letters. Putting her experiences into words begins to free her from her devastating past—and to brighten the path to her future. K. C. is an American teenager from Richmond, Virginia, who hates reading and writing—or anything that smacks of school. But as Nawra pours grief and joy into her letters, she inspires K. C. to see beyond her own struggles. And as K. C. opens her heart in her responses to Nawra, she becomes both a dedicated friend and a passionate activist for Darfur.

First lines: “The khawaja moves down the line where Adeeba and I wait for water. We know her by her hat, pointed on top and tied beneath her chin, a wide roof shading her small, lined face. Adeeba says farmers in China wear such hats when they plant their rice in fields of water, if such a thing is possible. Sometimes I cannot tell when my friend is teasing me.”


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