Thursday, July 3, 2014

Forget Me Not, by Carolee Dean

This book was part of my latest order for the high school library, and I grabbed it, along with about a dozen other books to read this summer.  I must admit, this one was definitely not what I expected it to be!  That's not to say I didn't like the book --  I  just didn't get swept away by it until a little more than halfway through.  That's when the metaphorical light bulbs went off in my head as I "got it" and the action picked up. (OK sometimes I'm slow!)   The last hundred pages were a frantic, fast-paced race for me, with the pages turning rapidly in my quest to see where things would end up.

Forget Me Not is written in verse, and it focuses on two main characters: Ally and Elijah.  The book opens with Ally in a dark hallway in an abandoned wing of her high school.  She is hiding out because a scandalous photo of her has gone viral and her reputation has taken a major nose-dive. With the single click of a "send" button, she has gone from an up and coming freshman girl on the cusp of major popularity, to a whore--a girl that "wants to sleep with the entire football team."  Everything is so convoluted and upside-down that she can't imagine ever facing anyone again.  So she hides....or at least, that's what it seems like she'd doing...until things get very weird in that hallway, and she realizes that she's not hiding there--she's there for an entirely different reason

Elijah has also spent some time in that same dark hallway in the same abandoned wing of the high school, after trying to kill himself by overdosing on pills.  His mission has a singular focus:  Get Ally out of that hallway at any cost.

Ally finds herself with the biggest decision of her mortal--and immortal, life.  She has to decide whether she lives.  Or dies. And her time to make that decision is limited.

Fans of If I Stay, by Gayle Forman will undoubtedly be drawn to this one, as the main premise is similar.  (Think comatose patient forced to make a choice)

I have to be honest and say that I was far more impressed with the quality of writing than I was with the storyline. I especially enjoyed reading the author's notes at the end, describing the different poetry styles used in different parts of the book.  That being said, I would definitely recommend this book to many of my students--especially fans of (paranormal) novels in verse.

Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell

I have had several people recommend this book to me, but the main reason I decided to read this is because one of my former students, Jackie, suggested it in a Facebook comment.  (Gosh, I love social media when it keeps me connected with kids that have moved away!)

Set in 1986, this one took me back to high school, with the characters bonding over mixed tapes of The Smiths and The Cure, among other iconic 80's bands.

Eleanor is a "big" girl with red hair.  At 16, she's the oldest of five kids being raised by their mother and an abusive, alcoholic stepfather named Richie.  She shares an overcrowded room with all four of her siblings, and they are incredibly poor and neglected.  They are quite literally, the "red-headed stepchildren."

Park is a comic book reading, punk music listening half Korean/American boy that Eleanor meets on morning school bus. Park has one foot in popularity and one foot in the land of the misfits.  He and Eleanor form a friendship over comic books and music shared on a Walkman.  That friendship blossoms into a first love that's intense and complicated.

I loved this book.  The characters are so fully and wonderfully developed that I felt like I knew them personally.  I don't want to give away too much of the story, but I know this will be an incredibly popular read during the upcoming school year.

Thanks, Jackie!