Hello to Goodbye Days

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Summary:

Can a text message destroy your life?

Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.

Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?


My Thoughts:

I loved Jeff’s first book Serpent King last year and was still in no way prepared for Goodbye Days.

With that said, I went into this book with HIGH expectations and absolutely was NOT let down at all!

I was tearing up within the first 3 or 4 pages, so I knew I was going to be in for a ride, much like Serpent King was a rollercoaster of emotions.

Most importantly, Goodbye Days has two very important messages in it.

First- obviously- the dangers of texting and driving. Carver’s life gets all mixed up due to sending his friends a simple text. Did he mean for something bad to happen? Absolutely not. But something happened anyways.

Second- Live everyday to the fullest. The people in Carver’s friends’ lives relied on Carver to imagine what they would have done with the deceased friends’ last days. That’s never something a person wants to imagine, but it teaches us to treat each day importantly.

Jeff has a way of creating characters that are real and easy to relate to for any reader. I may be several years older than his characters, but I find myself thinking, “man, I wish I could’ve had friends like this when I was that age.” Heck, I wish I could have friends this fun now even.

Overall, Zentner has yet again knocked it out of the park and I find myself anxious to see what he does next after loving his first two books. He has definitely earned a place as an insta-buy for me.

Goodbye Days is out NOW, so go grab a copy and always make the most of the days you have.

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Love for The Hate U Give

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Summary:

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice. Movie rights have been sold to Fox, with Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) to star.

My Thoughts:

    I don’t even know where to begin with THUG.

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I read THUG late last year, I believe in early November. I was already excited for it after hearing author, Angie Thomas, read from is at Mississippi Book Festival in August. I was sold and knew this was a book that I wanted to read.

Boy, was I….RIGHT.

I was completely blown away  by Starr and her situation. The writing was real and I could easily (I say easily lightly, because painfully is a better word.) see the story play out. I couldn’t quit reading because I had to know what was going to happen next in Starr’s world.

More importantly, sure, the book is great and  teens (EVERYONE) will love it for what it is, but it is so TIMELY and important with the message it sends out.

The biggest part is that it helped me further understand the kids that I work with everyday. I’m in a small town, yet urban setting with lots of low income families. I graduated 10 years ago from a high school about 30 minutes where I’m now a high school librarian, but 2017 in my school’s community is a whole other world from 2007 in the school and world I graduated in. It honestly helped me “get” where some of these kids are coming from and to understand some of their actions that I see on a daily basis.

That’s because of just how real the writing it. It’s also why I feel like young adult literature NEEDS more own voices books. Kids need to be able to see themselves and their communities. I didn’t intend to write this review on the day that I did, but the need for diverse and own voice books has especially hit me today because a Hispanic girl came to return a book today RAVING about how much she adored what she’d read because “It was so different. So many books are about pretty, white girls- and that’s okay too, Ms. Hays, don’t get me wrong!- but it was neat to have something different even if it wasn’t a Hispanic girl in this book.”

That kid struck a chord with me like she wouldn’t know because the importance of DIFFERENCES is one thing I try hard to push for the kids in my library so often. Sure, read the stuff that’s popular. That’s awesome, but read diverse books and see yourself, your peers, and other aspects that you don’t typically see.


This ended up going on way longer than I intended, but, honestly, I cannot speak highly enough over this book at all. I can’t wait until I’m able to order more books for my library next school year so that I’m able to share Starr with the kids in my school. They’ll love knowing that Starr was living in a neighborhood based on one not too far from where they live.

February 28…GO GET IT. You will not be disappointed in the slightest!

-M

Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

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Summary:

The New York Times bestseller, soon to be a major motion picture; US release on June 3, 2016.

They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A Love Story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

My Thoughts:

I’ve wanted to read this book forever! I had friends recommend it well before the  movie news. They each talked about how amazing the story was and how much they cried over the things that take place in the novel.

Maybe I missed something there?

It was a sweet story and I did enjoy it, but I still had some serious issues with it.

My biggest issue is that it is able a disabled person showing an able bodied person how to live life. I’m not sure if it would’ve worked the other way around, but it bothered me that Louisa was content to NOT stand up for herself and have actual goals.

Sure, she eventually started to think of how she could better her life, but she still wasn’t 100% sold on the idea. She would have otherwise been stuck in her simple life with Patrick had it not been for finally branching out some.

Further still, I had a problem with the ending. Not to spoil the entire thing,  but it just didn’t give the message that the disabled can still live their best life and strive to do more. Not in the slightest.

Those feelings aside, I liked the book, but it was still weird just for those two problems. I will still watch the movie when it releases because I’m a masochist for sad romances, but I still just don’t agree with the way that the novel approaches the disabled.

Sure, there are probably people who feel the way Will does about their own lives, but the book just didn’t send the right message in my mind.

Either way, it is still worth a read and is still a beautiful story that is a good, quick read.

-Melanie

Drama with substance! + HELP!

The ever (not to ME…) intriguing “drama” books.

WHY?

I get the appeal. Really, I do.

They’re meant for high interest-low level. I get it.

BUT WHY?

Here’s my main issue….wait!

I am NOT judging students by what they like to read. I promise I’m not. I’m happy they’re reading!

Okay now back to my point…I get that “drama” books, as my students call them, are close to reality for many of today’s teens. I understand. However, I also don’t really want them to think the rough lifestyles and poor choices found in those books are okay. I’m GLAD that they think they can relate to the characters in those books, but…I wish they’d aim higher? Is that terrible?

Here’s my aim…there is realistic fiction (oh, hey…look, y’all…that genre has a NAME!) that is both well-written AND still relatable. Personally, I also don’t want to read realistic or contemporary fiction that doesn’t seem, well….realistic. This is why we NEED diversity, y’all. I want these kids to have characters that they can relate to, but that aren’t miles beneath them in style and content. I love me some contemporary romance, but I need those stories to also have a broader range of characters at time that the average high school teenager can relate to.

Is that too much to ask?

What are some of your favorite contemporaries that I can get students hooked on?

-M