Slice of Life March 9th, 2013 #slice2013

sols_6

Today the dogs and I walked 5 miles at a local park.  But after dropping them off at home, I headed back out to the bookstore.

Despite the fact that my house is home to mountains (yes, plural) of books that I still want to read, I came home with more books.  I think this is one of the signs of being a member of the Nerdy Book Club. I went to the store to pick up a copy of Eleanor & Park after reading John Green’s review in the NYTimes this weekend.  I already had a copy from NetGalley, but I like having a physical copy.  Plus, I know it sounds like a book that will be popular with my students.

I browsed the bookstore for a while, as I can never just buy one thing there.  I spent some time looking at the Moleskine notebooks (I have an addiction) because I need a new notebook for a new project.  (See me justifying it there?)  Unfortunately, they did not have the limited edition Le Petit Prince notebook I was looking for.

Then I wandered over to the bestsellers and considered buying a few adult books.  But then I saw Admission and added it to the pile in my arms.  I am a Princeton glutton and I am fascinated by the college admissions process, so it was a no-brainer.

Next, I spent some time in the YA section.  Luckily, I own most of the books already.  I ended up grabbing a copy of Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin, Book I (His Fair Assassin Trilogy) because I remembered a lot of my Nerdy friends recommending it.  And I did jot down a few titles to add to my classroom library later.  Some of those included Cory Doctorow’s Homeland and Lauren Oliver’s Requiem (Delirium series).  While there, I also managed to convince myself that I did not need a John Green TFIOS tshirt.

Ok, fine.  Maybe they just didn’t have my size.

All in all, I escaped from Barnes and Noble relatively cheaply.  I had a $20 gift card so it was a cheap trip.  Not too bad for this Nerdy Book Club member!

Oh, and Eleanor & Park is fabulous so far.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Anyone who deals with teen/tween girls knows the symptoms of a crush- staring into space, making bad decisions, glazed over eyes, sometimes a whole new look. The sweet girl you thought you knew suddenly stands in front of you a completely different person. Over the span of a single school year, they can ride emotions like a roller coaster, from euphoric to despondent, over and over again.  I admit- there have been times in my teaching life when i have cursed teen/tween love.

Delirium is a dystopian novel is set in Portland, Maine.  But unlike many other YA dystopian novels, it isn’t set in the future.  Instead, it takes place in an alternate present.  In many ways, this makes the premise even more frightening.  The government has found a cure amor deliria nervosa. Mankind understands that love is the downfall of man, a disease that causes nothing but rot and ruin for those infected.

At age 18, teens undergo a surgical procedure to “cure” them of amor deliria nervosa.  They also sit through an extensive testing process in order for the government to decide upon their occupation and mate.  Lena is about to turn 18, counting down the days until she is cured.  Her life has always been in some sort of upheaval, ever since her infected mother’s suicide.  The surgery will be the final stamp on Lena’s life, ensuring that she is normal.

But nothing goes as planned. On the day of her evaluation she meets a boy. Assuming he is cured, due to the tell-tale scar on his neck, she hesitantly befriends him, spending time with him outside of home and school. But then Lena finds herself changing.  Is this fate? Or is she destined to walk the same dangerous path that her mother did?

Meeting Alex forever alters Lena’s life. Is her life a lie? Is her life any sort of life if she continues to live the way she is supposed to?

Lauren Oliver is a masterful writer.  I could not put Delirium down and I know my Hunger Games fans are going to devour it.  I also have this idea of pairing it with Romeo and Juliet. I am brainstorming here…

Oliver’s story starts out slow, so consider yourself warned.  However, it builds to a magnificent crescendo.  Oliver’s writing slowly gets under your skin and her setting, characterization, and everything else about the book seeps into your mind.  You can smell the salt air, your heart races alongside Lena’s, and you fall for Alex just as hard as she does. But the action builds and builds, and the twist at the end…oh my god!  I kept looking for another page after the last one, hoping I would suddenly find another chapter.  Or, ya know, the next book. Sadly, it appears that we have to wait for the next book in the series.  But I am sure it will be well worth the wait.

Delirium is a brilliant, fascinating look at what our world could be like. It is thought-provoking and heartbreaking and will leave you aching for more when you reach the conclusion. It will be released on February 1, 2011 and you should get to your local Indie store immediately to pre-order a copy!

*ARC from BEA

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

For months I have been hearing buzz about Lauren Oliver’s debut novel, Before I Fall.  It never made it to the top of my TBR pile because I had so many middle grade books to read for my sixth graders, but the buzz convinced me to pick up an ARC of her second novel back at BEA.  So last week I grabbed my copy of Before I Fall and sat down to read it.  Boy am I glad I did! I can’t wait to booktalk Before I Fall to my new high school students.  Not only is it well-written but it is also thought-provoking, meaningful, and realistic.

Sam Kingston is popular.  She is pretty.  Her friends are pretty and popular.  Once upon a time, Sam was a loser, way back in middle school.  But now she isn’t.  Now she is one of the chosen few.  She is also pretty oblivious to how her actions and those of her friends affect her classmates.  Sam isn’t particularly likeable.  I didn’t even love her at the end of the book.  But she is realistic.  So are her friends.  Oliver has captured high school perfectly.  A lot of seniors are selfish, they do think the world revolves around them.  Being popular is important, and sometimes that means stepping on those around you, as Sam explains.

But everything changes for Sam when she hears, “a horrible, screeching sound—metal on metal, glass shattering, a car folding in two,”  and then everything turns to nothing.  The victim of a car crash, Sam is convinced she has died.  Until she wakes up again then next morning.  Only it is not the next morning.  It is the same day.  A cross between Mean Girls and Groundhog Day, Sam is forced to relive her last day over and over, changing her actions a little more each time.

Lauren Oliver takes a fascinating concept and turns it into a thought-provoking novel.  How does bullying affect our lives?  Directly? Indirectly?  How do our actions influence those around us?  Can we influence them consciously?  At first, Sam lives with reckless abandon, doing all the things she never had the nerve to do when she was alive.  But slowly she begins to realize that she is meant to do something else.

What I really liked about this book was how realistic is, despite the premise.  When Sam begins to relive her last day she doesn’t immediately transform into a perfect teen.  Instead, she rebels more than she ever did as a living teen- seducing her teacher, smoking pot, cheating on her boyfriend.  She slowly begins to realize that something has to change in order for her to move on completely.  But even at the very end of the book, she is not a perfect angel.  She does change and she matures, but she remains a teen at heart.  While some people might not appreciate this unwillingness to become perfect, I love it.  It is realistic.  And teens will identify with it.

Some people mentioned being apprehensive about reading 480 pages about the same day over and over, but the story is not redundant at all.  I found myself completely enthralled by the book, despite the fact that Sam was reliving the same day.  Each choice she makes impacts the outcome at the end of the night.

Highly, highly recommended.  Perfect for high school.

*my own copy

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,891 other followers