Teen Book Review: The Summer Before Boys

The Summer Before Boys by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Review by Anna, Sonoma Valley Branch

The Summer Before Boys by Nora Raleigh Baskin is an… all right book. It’s about two girls, Eliza and Julia. Eliza’s mom is currently away to be an army nurse, something Eliza struggles with constantly. As a result, Eliza is staying with Julia for the whole summer. But their friendship will be tested once Eliza starts thinking about a local boy, Michael. It’s a tale of growing up and dealing with hard things, a book about an ordinary girl who makes a few mistakes in the summer of 2004.

I didn’t particularly like this book. I’ve always held the belief that if you’re going to spend your free time reading a book, that book should transport you to somewhere exciting and adventurous. In The Summer Before Boys you read about Eliza’s not very exciting life, and her minuscule dilemmas that are huge to her. However, it did get more interesting about halfway through the book, but even so, it did not make it into my favorites. I would recommend this book to kids with parents or loved ones in the army, because I think this novel would be good for learning how to deal with that.

Book Spotlight: Along for the Ride

along.jpg Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Review by Tiffany, Librarian, Rincon Valley
Auden just graduated from high school at the top of her class. She spent her whole childhood trying to impress her parents with her grades and maturity, so she never did any of the things her peers did such as sleepovers, riding a bike or bowling.  Instead, she spent most nights alone, drinking coffee and driving around town. At the beginning of her summer vacation, on a whim, she decided to go stay with her father, stepmother and their new baby girl.

The first couple of weeks or so are spent like those in her hometown, drinking coffee and driving alone through town. Things begin to change when she meets Eli, who also spends his nights alone, fighting insomnia. Soon she starts to discover all of the things she missed growing up and, with help from Eli, decides to re-live her childhood. However, things begin to change when emotions from her parent’s divorce come to the surface again.

Dessen is known for great character development and this book does not disappoint. You get so wrapped up in Auden and all the minor characters that the book flows effortlessly. You don’t want to miss this newest Sarah Dessen book!

Teen Book Review: Dramarama

drama.jpg Dramarama by E. Lockhart
Review by Annika, 7th grade, Rincon Valley

Sarah “Sadye” Paulson is the exact opposite of your average drama kid.  She’s tall and big nosed, proud and obnoxious.  Her only friend is Demi Howard, a gay African-American with an up-front personality.  Wanting to get out of Brenton, Ohio, Sayde comes up with the idea to go to drama camp at Wildewood Academy.  To Sadye’s shock, both of them are accepted into a summer of dancing, acting, and singing.  However, chaos and wonder soon ensure at the camp.  Slowly, Sadye begins to lose her closest friend as the differences between them become more and more apparent.  Auditions are failed, hormones are tossed, and song and dance rule the summer at Wildewood Academy.  Dramarama ends with a twist ending, something no one would see coming that will make one drop the book down for a moment and just stare.  It is a wonderful book for anyone taking drama, Sadye’s feelings come alive from the page, so alive that anyone can feel Sadye’s emotions and imagine themselves in the story.  Savor it slowly or gobble it up fast, this book is amazing eye-opener that takes the reader to the very depths of human emotion.

Teen Book Review: Sleepaway Girls

sleepaway.jpg Sleepaway Girls by Jen Calonita
Review by Nina, Sonoma Valley, 8th grade
Sleepaway Girls is a story about Samantha Montgomery and her summer.  She is going to camp for the first time as a CIT to get away from her best friend and her best friend’s boyfriend.  When she arrives she is immediately recognized as the girl from the Dial and Dash commercial.  This does not make her or her new enemy Ashley very happy.

Throughout the book Sam makes new friends and learns to be her own person.  She makes enemies and makes videos of the “sleepaway girls”.  She falls for the wrong guy and tries to fix things with the right one.  During the first summer away from home, Sam learns a lot about herself and not being a push over.  This book is full of surprises and does not get boring.  It is a great book with romance, friendship and humor combined.

Teen Book Review: The Real Real

real.jpg The Real Real by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus
Review by Nina, Sonoma Valley, 8th Grade
“The Real Real” by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus is a story about a girl
whose high school is chosen to become the setting of a new reality show
about the glamorous lives of the people attending the school.  Unexpectedly, Jesse gets cast as one of the leads that the show centers on.  Accepting the part, she realizes that being on the show means giving up her best friend, job, and weekends in order to be the person the show wants. A couple perks are spending time with her crush and having money for college but, is that worth it? Jesse is faced with many obstacles as she tries to
stay true to her friend and family as her life becomes scripted and her friends fake.

I thought this book was really interesting and worth reading. It was written by the authors of The Nanny Diaries and includes a lot of unique and funny scenes. It does not get boring and once you get into it, the book goes by pretty quickly. It isn’t a very serious book but still teaches you the lesson to stay true to yourself and what matters to you most.

Teen Book Review: North of Beautiful

north11.jpg North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
Review by Grayson, Sebastopol, 9th grade
If you saw Terra from the back, you would think she is gorgeous.  But if you saw her from the front, you’d think she’s extremely “flawed.”  The entire left side of her face is cover by a huge red birthmark, called a port-wine stain.  Terra tries to be a perfect high schooler, but underneath the heavy concealer and makeup, she feels like an outsider.  To make matters worse, her father is abusive and controlling.  All Terra wants to do is escape to college to study art, but her father decides that art is a waste of time and he insists that she attend the university of his choice.  Heartbroken, Terra meets a beautiful goth boy named Jacob, who helps Terra begin to accept herself and see what beauty really is.

This book makes you think of beauty, and how our society and media define it.  Every girl struggles to live up to the definition of beauty and the pressure to look and be like everyone else.  As Terra says It had taken me until this moment, until I created this collage, to realize that the magazine world vision of beauty had the exact opposite effect on me, shriveling me so that I only paid attention to my own imperfections.  Enough with that.

What does beauty mean to you?

Short Stories

Do you have a favorite author?  Think you have read everything by that author?  Did you know that many young adult authors write short stories?  You could be missing a story from your favorite author.  Are you unsure about an author?  Read one of their short stories to get a feel for their writing style.  Here are some of the authors that are included in our list of short stories:  M.T. Anderson, Sarah Dessen, John Green, Margaret Peterson Haddix, Stephenie Meyer, Garth Nix, Neal Shusterman, Vivian Vande Velde, Nancy Werlin and Scott Westerfeld.

21 Dresses
Authors include:  Libba Bray, Jacqueline Woodson, Ned Vizzini, John Green, Sarah Mylnowski, Melissa de la Cruz, Holly Black, Brent Hartinger, Lisa Sandell, Will Leitch, Leslie Margolis, Cecily von Ziegesar, E. Lockhart, Jodi Anderson, David Levithan, Dan Ehrenhaft, Liz Craft, Aimee Friedman, and Adrienne Vrettos
666:  the number of the beast
Authors include:  Peter Abrahams, Christopher Pike, Joyce Carol Oates, Heather Graham, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, Robin Wasserman and Melissa de la Cruz.
Firebirds Rising
Authors include:  Francesca Lia Block, Alan Dean Foster, Diana Wynne Jones, Tanith Lee and Tamora Pierce
First Kiss (then tell)
Authors include:  Deb Caletti, Nikki Grimes, Shannon Hale, Sarah Mlynowski, Donna Jo Napoli and Scott Westerfeld
Gothic!:  ten original dark tales
Authors include:  M.T. Anderson, Neil Gaiman, Garth Nix and Vivian Vande Velde
Let it Snow:  three holiday romances
Even though these stories take place during the holiday season they will warm your heart all year around.
Authors:  John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle.
Love is Hell
Authors include:  Melissa Marr, Scott Westerfeld and Gabrielle Zevin
No such thing as the real world:  stories about growing up and getting a life

Authors include:  M.T. Anderson, K.L. Going, Chris Lynch, Jacqueline Woodson
Prom Nights From Hell
Authors include:  Meg Cabot, Lauren Myracle, Kim Harrison, Michele Jaffe and Stephenie Meyer
The Restless Dead:  ten original stories of the supernatural
Authors include:  Annette Curtis Klause, Deborah Noyes, Libba Bray, M.T Anderson and Holly Black
Troll’s Eye View:  a book of villainous tales
Authors include:  Garth Nix, Nancy Farmer, Holly Black, and Neil Gaiman
Sideshow:  ten original tales of freaks, illusionists, and other matters odd and magical
Authors include:  Vivian Vande Velde, Annette Curtis Klause, Cynthia Leitich Smith and Matt Phelan
Twice Told:  original stories inspired by original art
Authors include:  Sarah Dessen, John Green, Margaret Peterson Haddix, Neal Shusterman and Nancy Werlin
What are you afraid of?:  stories about phobias
Authors include:  Gail Giles, David Lubar and Neal Shusterman
Vacations from Hell
Authors include:  Sarah Mlynowski, Claudia Gray, Maureen Johnson, Cassandra Clare and Libba Bray

Have you read any of these books?!?  We want to know.  Tell us what you think, leave a comment or two.