Sunday, September 15, 2013

Carter Finally Gets It by by Brent Crawford

There are some people who just seem to "get it."  They know what to say and how to act in whatever situation is thrown at them.  Then there's Carter, and Carter does not "get it."  Carter is entering his freshman year of high school and he's planning for it to be a big year for him and his boys.  Reading about Carter navigating sports tryouts, high school parties, and, more importantly, high school girls can be like watching a car accident at times (a car accident that just happens to be very hilarious) - it's obvious that what ever Carter is about to do will end in disaster, but you have to find out how.

As Carter gets his first girlfriend, evades cops at parties, and gets slightly beat up (physically and mentally) you may find yourself laughing out loud (literally laughing out loud, not just an LOL when you're actually only smirking).  Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford is a funny and entertaining read about how awkward getting high school can be (especially when you tend to stutter when talking to pretty girls).


Friday, September 13, 2013

The File on Angelyn Stark by Catherine Atkins

Catherine Atkins young adult novel The File on Angelyn Stark shows the perseverance of its title character even as the adults around her, and sometimes her own judgment, fail her. Angelyn thinks of herself and her friends Jacey and Charity as the tough girls at her high school. At the beginning of the book the three run into Jeni, who at first appears to be meek but turns out not to be afraid of their bullying. Jeni, even though she’s new at school, knows a few things about Angelyn’s past that Angelyn would like to keep in the past.

Since The File on Angelyn Stark is not heavy on plot, I won’t give any more of it away. The book’s strength is its character development. The characters are not clearly good or bad, and many of them you’ll find yourself alternately loving or hating or some combination of the two. There are few clear villains in The File on Angelyn Stark and this is a good thing.

My one complaint about Atkins’ novel is that at times it reads too much like a play. Many pages are almost all dialogue with only occasional quick descriptions of the characters’ actions and surroundings. Events seem to move along at such a breakneck pace that I found myself getting lost at several points. At the same time, Atkins can’t be accused of getting bogged down in extensive descriptions of people and places.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Bartlett Reads 2013: YA Stories on the Spectrum

We are celebrating the inaugural Bartlett Reads community reading event by reading the New York Times bestselling book The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man's Quest to Be a Better Husband by local author David Finch. This September, the community will come together to read the book, and attend events based on the themes in the book. 

Waiting for No One by Beverley Brenna

Taylor Jane Simon is an eighteen-year-old girl with Asperger's Syndrome who has a refreshingly different view of the people she encounters and the life she wants to have. Young adult readers will identify with Taylor's struggle for independence and self-control, and empathize as she outlines the ways-both positive and negative-- that her Asperger's Syndrome affects her daily life. Connecting with a play by Samuel Beckett, Taylor explores a fear of solitary existence while reaching out to a world at times perplexing. Most important, Taylor wants to be seen as an individual, not as a stereotypical "person with special needs," or a rare wild flower-images that haunt her from the past.

 Livvie Owen Lived Here by Sarah Dooley

Olivia "Livvie" Owen feels things differently than her parents and two sisters. Livvie is autistic. Her family has had to move repeatedly because of her outbursts. When they again face eviction, Livvie is convinced she has a way to get back to a house where they were all happy, once. The problem is, Livvie burned down that house. But she's not giving up. Here is her story.

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

In Caitlin's world, everything is black or white. Things are good or bad. Anything in between is confusing. That's the stuff Caitlin's older brother, Devon, has always explained. But now Devon's dead and Dad is no help at all. Caitlin wants to get over it, but as an eleven-year-old girl with Asperger's, she doesn't know how. When she reads the definition of closure, she realizes that is what she needs. In her search for it, Caitlin discovers that not everything is black and white--the world is full of colors--messy and beautiful.

A Certain October by Angela Johnson

Scotty compares herself to tofu: no flavor unless you add something. And it's true that Scotty's friends, Misha and Falcone, and her brother, Keone, make life delicious. But when a terrible accident occurs, Scotty feels responsible for the loss of someone she hardly knew, and the world goes wrong. She cannot tell what is a dream and what is real. Her friends are having a hard time getting through to her and her family is preoccupied with their own trauma. But the prospect of a boy, a dance, and the possibility that everything can fall back into place soon help Scotty realize that she is capable of adding her own flavor to life.

Somebody Please Tell Me Who I Am by Harry Mazer

Ben has always had it pretty easy--with no acting experience, he landed the lead in his high school musical, and he's dating the prettiest girl in school. Haunted by memories of 9/11, he makes the decision to enlist in the army--with devastating consequences. Somehow nobody ever thought Ben would be one of the soldiers affected, but after his convoy gets caught in an explosion, Ben is in a coma for two months. When he wakes up, he doesn't know where he is, and he doesn't remember anything about his old life. His family and friends mourn what they see as a loss, but Ben perseveres. 

Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz

Colin Fischer cannot stand to be touched. He does not like the color blue. He needs index cards to recognize facial expressions. But when a gun is found in the school cafeteria, interrupting a female classmate's birthday celebration, Colin is the only for the investigation. It's up to him to prove that Wayne Connelly, the school bully and Colin's frequent tormenter, didn't bring the gun to school. After all, Wayne didn't have frosting on his hands, and there was white chocolate frosting found on the grip of the smoking gun...

 Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick

Amber Appleton lives in a bus. Ever since her mom's boyfriend kicked them out, Amber, her mom, and her totally loyal dog, Bobby Big Boy (aka Thrice B) have been camped out in the back of Hello Yellow (the school bus her mom drives). Still, Amber, the self-proclaimed princess of hope and girl of unyielding optimism, refuses to sweat the bad stuff. But when a fatal tragedy threatens Amber's optimism--and her way of life, can Amber continue to be the rock star of hope? With an oddball cast of characters, and a heartwarming, inspiring story, this novel unveils a beautifully beaten-up world of laughs, loyalty, and hard-earned hope. The world is Amber's stage, and Amber is, well...she's sorta like a rock star. True? True.

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Marcelo Sandoval hears music no one else can hear--part of the autism-like impairment no doctor has been able to identify--and he's always attended a special school where his differences have been protected. But the summer after his junior year, his father demands that Marcelo work in his law firm's mailroom in order to experience "the real world." There Marcelo meets Jasmine, his beautiful and surprising coworker, and Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm.

He learns about competition and jealousy, anger and desire. But it's a picture he finds in a file -- a picture of a girl with half a face -- that truly connects him with the real world: its suffering, its injustice, and what he can do to fight.