Monday, August 29, 2005

When Dad Killed Mom **** 1/2

Lester, Julius. When Dad Killed Mom. New York: Harcourt, 2001.

I am glad I chose to re-reas this book. I remember enjoying it then and I enjoyed it again. This novels begins with Jeremy and his sister Jenna finding out that there father has killed their mother by shooting her outside a coffee shop. Jenna and Jeremy take sides and stop wanting to be around each other. Jenna takes her fathers side because she has always been a Daddy' girl while Jeremy was always with their mother. Jeremy remains in their mother's painting studio with their Grandfather watching over him. Jenna goes to stay with Karen, her mother's best friend and, interestingly, her father's ex wife.

Jenna and Jeremy start getting pulled in all directions. Their mother's parents live in San Franciso and want them to come and live with them, but they don't want to. They give up on that but then their other Grandfather gets deeply into their father's defense. The lawyer tries to get Jenna and Jeremy to testify that their parents fought all the time and that their mother was abusive to their father. While living in their mother's painters studio, Jeremy comes across his mother's diary. As he reads it, a lot of information comes out that changes things for everyone.

Each chapter alternates between Jeremy and Jenna which works really well for this book. Instead of a one-sided story, we get to see two sides and then see how they come together in the end. Highly recommended for all readers!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Rainbow Boys **** 1/2

Sanchez, Alex. Rainbow Boys. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.

This is my 100th post! Wow. That's a lot of books. Just think- in between reading all the fiction books at work, I also read adult novels just or me that never even get reviewed on here!

I can't believe it took me this long to get to this book. I had heard good things about it from some gay students at school but just never got around to reading it. Each chapter alternates between the three main characters.

Jason is on the basketball team and has been dating his girlfriend for years, but he has feelings for boys and doens't know what to make of them. His father is a violent alcoholic that screams and shouts and insults him and his mother, including calling him a "faggot" when he doesn't act as he wants him to act. He starts hanging out with Kyle because he needs help in Math, but it goes deeper than that. Kyle is gay but isn't out to his parents. When his parents find out, they freak out, particulary his father. Kyle has had a crush on Jason for years and is ecstatic when Jason turns up at a gay/lesbian support group. Nelson is Kyle's best friend but is in love with him. He is a little self centered. He is out to his parents and the student body. After Kyle rejects him, he has an encounter with an older man that doesn't end how he wants it to end. There is alot of homophobia. Nelson is frequently called "faggot" and encounters violence all the time. Kyle is attacked as well. Once people start to figure out Jason is gay, he also experiences discrimination.

I really enjoyed this book. It is a very strong story because it is told from the persepctive of three different gay teens, so we get multiple experiences about the same topic all in one story. I highly recommend this book to anyone, but particulary to gay or lesbian teens or anyone interested in learning more about it.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Skud ****

Foon, Dennis. Skud. Toronto: Douglas & McIntyre, 2003.

What a great book. The cover artwork is very interesting and will draw readers in immediately. The story inside won't disappoint either!

Tommy is an honor student, and a model citizen; deep inside, however, he has a hard time controlling his anger. His current problem is Sheila, his girlfriend, who has dumped him. He is angry at her, but moreso at Andy, who he thinks she is now seeing. Tommy invites Andy to a fight after school. Andy is in the drama club and a bit of a dork. He wants to be an actor and spends a lot of time going to auditions. His mother is somewhat disapproving of him overall, and his father is dead. Brad is a hockey player that is stuck on steroids. He uses the steroids to bulk up. He is Tommy's best friend and his back-up in the fight. During the fight Shane inexplicably comes to Andy's rescue and ends the fight. Shane is huge, and was a part of a big gang that is very violent. Andy has no idea why he would want to help him. They strike up an unlikely friendship. Each boy has inner demons he is fighting and they all come to a head at the climax of the book.

This is a great book for male readers. First of all, it is told from the perspective of 4 different people, so it keeps things interesting. It is a great book, reading about 4 people that all have problems and how their lives all seem to intersect at the same time. Recommended highly for male readers.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Gifts ****

LeGuin, Ursula K. Gifts. New York: Harcourt, 2004.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that fantasy is not my cup of tea. I have to say, however, that I enjoyed this book more than I could have ever expected. Orrec and Gry live in the Uplands with their families. Each family there has a special Gift. Families try not to marry out of their line so that their gifts aren't lost. Gry's family gift is the call animals. Gry refuses to use her gift as her mother uses it-- to call animals to her so that hunters can slaughter them. Orrec's family can undo things. They can undo things as simple as undoing a knot, or they can undo a life-- from killing trees to animals to people. Orrec's gift doesn't seem to come on when it should, until he starts undoing things he doesn't mean to undo. He is told that his Gift is "wild", meaning he can't control what he undoes. He takes to wearing a blindfold so he doesn't undo anything by accident.

There is warring and feuding families in the novel, particularly between Orrec's land and the land next to their land, owned by Ogge. Ogge steals some of their cows but then tries to betroth his Granddaughter to Orrec. Ogge invites Orrec's family to their home for a period of time, to betroth them, but things go awry, leaving more discontent between the lands and families. Gry and Orrec don't know what to make of their gifts, and neither want to use them, although without using their gifts they are essentially useless to their respective families.

The novel comes to a satisfying conclusion, although not one that will surprise the reader. Recommended for anyone that enjoys fantasy novels.