Two Great Books

I finished two great books today. Not only that, but I actually have time to review them both.

Story of a Girl by Sarah Zarr- WOW. First of all, the voice in this novel was breathtaking. I felt like I knew Deanna. While I wasn’t Deanna, I know too many girls who were her in high school. I also see too many students each year who are in danger of becoming her.

Deanna made one mistake. One stupid mistake when she was thirteen. But it was a big one- her father caught her in the backseat of her brother’s best friend’s car. With him. Since then, her decision has been the talk of her small-town of Pacifica, Ca. Her father hasn’t spoken more than two words to her or B684AF32-864D-4D73-8BE3-CF47D6EE1CF6.jpglooked her in the eye since that day. Her brother got his girlfriend knocked up in the next few years. Her mother spends the little time she isn’t working pretending that their family is fine. And now, Deanna is employed by the most run-down, ramshackle pizza joint in town. And her esteemed co-worker? Only Tommy, the very mistake she made those years ago.

I could not put this book down. Sarah Zarr captures high school perfectly. Deanna is everygirl- she isn’t the most popular, her family is far from perfect, and she isn’t the slut she is made out to be over the town grapevine. All she wants to do is move on. Will her father forgive her? Will she ever escape Pacifica? I can’t recommend this novel enough! I put it right next to Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak on my list of must-read teen girl reads.

I also finished Gail Giles’ What Happened to Cass McBride?. I don’t think I will be able to sleep tonight, thanks to this haunting story. If I taught high school, I would jump at the chance to use this novel in a bullying unit.

I know my students will love this book. The plot centers on the recent suicide of David Kirby. One night, after a negative encounter at school, David Kirby hangs himself from his tree in his front yard.BEF3C3F4-2761-42B8-B635-4705929761C0.jpg He pins to his chest (not his shirt. His chest). the following note:

Words are teeth. And they eat me alive.

This act leads to event after event. David’s brother, Kyle is driven to an act of psychotic desperation and kidnaps the popular girl, Cass McBride, who rejected his brother. He not only kidnaps her, but proceeds to torture her by burying her alive.

The story is told through the eyes of various characters- Kyle Kirby, Cass McBride, and the investigating detectives.

This is a powerful story. It explores the themes of abuse, bullying, power, and the power our words have over others. Kyle, David, and Cass have all been damaged by the adults in their lives. In a trickledown effect, their words deeply affect those around them. Sadly, they don’t realize the power their words have on those who pass through their lives.

I love shows like Law and Order and Law and Order: SVU. In my opinion, the most horrifying stories are those that are true. This story will chill you to the bone. Why? Because it is so real. You feel like it can happen. Like it is happening around you.

Two fantastic books in one day!! It’s been a good day.

Notebooks

There is a great post right now over at Big A Little a about how posters around the blogosphere use notebooks. The comments provide some great reading, and I am happy to learn I am not the only person out there who snaps up notebooks every chance I get. At any given time, I have notebooks everywhere. You can find them on my nightstand, in my purse, in my schoolbag, in the car, on my desk, and all over the rest of my house.

My personal favorites are Moleskine notebooks. I have a couple in my purse, the small handheld size. I have a few full-sized Moleskines in my school bag as we speak. I love them for their history (Hemingway!?) and their portability. I also love the variety of notebooks available. I need to use lined paper, as I have horrid handwriting. The lines force me to write semi-legibly. :) I do wish I could find some Moleskine notebooks with colored covers. I adore pretty covers, and the only qualm I have with Moleskine is that the plain black covers don’t excite me!

I also love those spiral notebooks you can find at the bookstore. They have lined paper and the edges are multi-colored. I tend to use them for school and jotting down ideas for planning and for upcoming units. When it comes to school, I am also the Post-it queen. I am constantly writing on the lined notepads, super-sticky, for sure, in all different colors. Anytime I find post-its on sale, I grab as many as I can carry and run to the checkout. There might be something wrong with me….

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