Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Reads: More YA Fiction

Yesterday I finished reading Jenny Hubbard's Paper Covers Rock, a coming of age story about Alex, a junior at a boarding school in Georgia during the early eighties. Alex has spent the last few years of boarding school with three close friends. Suddenly, however, one friend is dead after an accident involving vodka and jumping from a rock; another friend takes the fall and is dismissed from school; and Alex is left to deal with his emotions with Glenn, a self-described Golden Boy hell-bent on making sure neither he nor Alex get caught for their part in the drinking that led to their friend's death.

Avoiding knowledge of their transgressions means figuring out just how much Miss Dovecott, the new English teacher, saw when she came to the boys' aid immediately following the accident. Alex has started to develop something of a crush on Miss Dovecott--it is the poetry in her class and her encouragement of his writing that helps Alex start to work through his grief. When Glenn's plan for self-preservation begins to involve sullying Miss Dovecott's reputation, however, Alex becomes conflicted. This story weaves together a very realistic story of the pressures on the bonds of friendship, the relationships between teachers and students, and the institutionalized homophobia of a conservative, all-male boarding school. I really started to feel for Alex and his feelings of conflict, even if I couldn't relate to his choices. This first novel very much deserves its Morris Award finalist nod.

Just started: Lola and the Boy Next Door, by Stephanie Perkins, tells the story of 17-year-old Lola Nolan, a girl in modern-day San Francisco who lives with her two dads, dresses in fashion confections of her own design, and dates a 22-year-old rock musician (much to the consternation of her family and friends). When the crush of her youth, Cricket Bell, moves back in next door, Lola's life seems suddenly so chaotic. She's with her rocker boyfriend, but she used to have such feelings for Cricket until he hurt her two years previously. What's a strong-willed, independent-minded girl to do? I'm only halfway through the book, so I'm not quite sure yet what's going to happen. So far, however, Lola and the Boy Next Door boasts the well-developed quirky characters, intriguing realistic storyline, and enjoyable dialogue that Perkins's earlier novel, Anna and the French Kiss, used to such positive reader reviews. I'm looking forward to seeing what Lola wants, and then, if Lola gets.

Also (re)read: Catching Fire and Mockingjay. Because even if my book club was only discussing The Hunger Games, I couldn't not read the entire series. Once again, I enjoyed it immensely.

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