Archive for the ‘coming of age’ Category

Michael lives and works with his grandparents.  Granddaddy’s favorite response to him is “Patience son, patience.”  They grow vegetables, fish and cut wood together.  One day, not a Sunday, Grandma gives Granddaddy his newly pressed suit.  He hugs her, puts on the suit and a camera strapped around his neck.  With Michael in tow he is off to vote for the first time, the happiest day in his life.  After he picks up the ballot Michael takes his photograph.  As he is ready to turn it in, a registrar throws down a book and tells Granddaddy to read it.  He cannot and the registrar tears up the ballot.  Though angry, he only turns and leaves.  He dies without ever having voted.  But Michael takes the photograph of Granddaddy with him when HE votes.

Come on!  Ransome illustrations?  Heart-rending family story?  What is not to love about this well-crafted picture book that shares a dark time in African American history and yet gives the reader hope for justice at the ballot box.  A must read, imho.

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Karl is in incurable love with Fiorella, a girl in love with the written word, especially her favorite author. This all-about-me girl insists that Karl unveil his soul to her in letters. It appears that Fiorella has not noticed that Karl is a shy plumber’s assistant with a perchance for fishing and visual art. Karl shows up on the doorstep of the favorite author from whose viewpoint we witness the unfolding of this Cyrano de Bergerac-ish story. The author (Aidan?) and Karl seem to be kindred spirits and before he knows it, the author is assisting Karl, hanging out and fishing together. The unexpected friendship results in surprising pathos, tradegy and some kinks in Fiorella’s grand plan. Chambers switch-ups in writing styles were fun to read. Does the young man get the girl?

ENDERS’ Rating: *****
Aiden’s Website

Two best friends choose to leave their suffocating lives in rural America and head to the Big Apple to seek their fortunes and happiness. Faced with their first crisis, the two friends part, one to an amazing dream, the other to the streets. Their parallel lives intersect and drift apart once again. Can 1929 New York bring them the happiness both want, or does the cruelty, violence and despair rule everything?

Anna Godbersen just finished the draft of the 2nd book in the series.

ENDERS’ Rating: *****


Okay, I have to confess: I snatch Dana’s books at review group. She and Beth Kephart are two writers that pull you into the characters’ feelings so artfully.

Drew, a loner and fellow rat lover, lives with her single mom who has opened a gourmet cheese shop in central California. Since it is a few years before the trend of “trendy food shops” profits are lean, but the bills are not. Also in the shop are gorgeous Nick, the pasta maker and Swoozie, the clerk and replacement grandma for Drew. One of Drew’s jobs is to throw out the expired food to the alley which is whisked away. One night in the alley she meets Emmett Crane who lives on their thrown out foods. Emmett has a secret and Drew is determined to learn more about him. His quest sweeps her up. Does the mission succeed? One thing is for sure, the friendship does.

Wonderfully written so that we see into the souls of these two kids. Oh, and the story is told by Drew as an 18-year-old attending Berkeley. That perspective makes the story special.

ENDERS’ Rating: *****


Dana’s Website


“Coo, coo, cha-choo Mrs. Robinson!” (Most of you will need to ask your parents about The Graduate).

Mason is not only a sports start, he covers all the bases, being a star thespian in the latest school play. Mason isn’t bad looking either. To top off his euphoria, his best and most beautiful pal, Kat, has honored him with a passionate encounter that surprised and delighted them both. But since that encounter, Kat is treating him like he has bubonic plague. He doesn’t know what to do. But along comes the older woman, 23-year-old Collette, who flirts with him, and visa versa. Before he knows it, a fling has begun with his own Mrs. R. All the time he knows that Collette has another guy, that is, man. He is in uncharted territory and wonders what to do next. Martin tells a riveting tale of the primal adventures become misadventures of a teen boy. I wonder how she can write so well from a male perspective!

ENDERS’ Rating: ****
c. k. kelly martin’s website


Cuba was an island playground for Lucia and her little brother Frankie, after school was disbanded by the new leader, Fidel Castro, until their parents insisted that they always stay at home. The revolution had begun with bloody evidence in plain view in the city squares. Her father lost his banking job. Valuables from their home were taken by the revolutionary soldier. Lucia’s parents pay to have her and Frankie flown to Miami, as part of Operation Pedro Pan in which parents sent around 14,000 of their children to Camelot (the term for the presidency of John F. Kennedy). For a while they are in an orphanage. But fortune shined on them as the director remembered a kindness that their father had done for his family. He knew of a home in Nebraska where the two of them could be together. They find themselves in the home of chatty Mrs. Baxter and not-so-chatty Mr. Baxter who introduce them to farm chores, hand-me-down repaired clothes, thrift and American Christmas. Lucia attends high school and experiences its cliques and first “like.” Frankie is crazy about baseball and his new friends. Will he forget Spanish and his parents? Why are telephone calls so hard to complete and so expensive to Cuba? Will she ever see her parents, best friend or Cuba again?

ENDERS’ Rating: *****

Christina’s Website with Playlist


I obsessed about missing trains while in Europe, but Ry really does miss his during a 45-minute (not!) stop on the way to a camp in Montana. If not bad enough, he opens the urgent letter from the camp, sent a few week before, en route to discover that he is on the way to a canceled camp! Catching up with the train is impossible, cell phone reception is nil, and his backpack with all his earthly possessions, sans his wallet and cell, is on the train. He follows signs to a small Montana town where a local mechanic, Del, senses that this is a good kid in trouble. The story swtches to Lloyd, Ry’s grandfather, who is house-sitting while Ry and his parents are gone, taking Ry’s dogs on a walk and stepping onto unstable ground that becomes a sink hole. He is not answering Ry or Ry’s parents calls. The dogs are having their own adventure that is depicted in graphic novel format, tossed into the novel like captivating chocolate kisses. Del is a fixer. He is going to fix Ry’s problem by driving him across country to his home in Wisconsin. That is the start of an improbable quest to find Ry’s parents on a small Caribbean island where they also have had amply doses of bad, bad luck. Humor, pathos, quirkiness, this book has it all with lots of good read aloud sections. So abandon any skepticism about so much bad luck and enjoy!

ENDERS’ Rating: ****

Ben Campbell’s life is thrown into turmoil when his dad announces that he is divorcing Ben’s mother, and then chooses a boyfriend! Ben is furious that his dad would destroy their family and plots revenge. If he find trouble, he is there. And he brags about it. Make the old man’s life miserable. So what does his father do? Plunks him down into population 400 Normal, Montana. Let the games begin. Did I mention Ben arrives with spiked hair? A real hit in a cowboy community. Soon the plot thickens as Ben discovers that even a town of 400 has some secrets.

ENDERS’ Rating: ****

Michael Harmon’s Website




What are the chances of meeting yourself? Well, someone with your same name.

Two of the finest, funniest, quirkiest YA authors combine forces to create an entertaining novel that will appeal to guys, girls, anyone who likes a quirky, funny, ironic, aha novel. One Will Grayson is the longtime sidekick of Tiny Cooper. Through a crazy coincidence Will Grayson meets Will Grayson #2 in a sleazy Chicago porn shop. Both their lives are changed by knowing Tiny Cooper, the writer-director-producer-actor-singer who stars in a school musical based on Tiny’s life. In the climatic ending there is no doubt that love of others is. People are. John Green, David Levithan, I appreciate you both. You are both crazy-good writers.

ENDERS’ Rating: ****

Nerdfighters Website

David Levithan’s Website


Brilliant is the third novel that explores the stress of a family’s financial problems. This time it is through the eyes of the eldest daughter, the brilliant Quinn, of the “Avery Women.” Same scenario as the previous Lucky and Gorgeous: Mom Avery makes a major blunder that costs her job, almost her freedom. Consequently each suffers economic loss as Mom is the major wage earner in the family. Dad Avery is a teacher…’nough said.

Quinn is the good, steady, dependable, bright eldest daughter who walks on troubled waters. Helping with the repossession of their grand piano was the last straw. When she surges into crazy decisions, everyone is shocked, including the guy she adores.

I loved the scene with the old upright piano. This is the third time reading about that scene, of course, as all three sisters are involved. It would be fun for three friends to read each novel and discuss “family problems” with the perspective of the one novel. Then they could read all three and discuss again.

ENDERS’ Rating: ****

Rachel Vail’s Website