Wednesday, September 28, 2005

This Must Be Love **

Sutherland, Tui T. This Must Be Love. New York: Harper Collins, 2004.

I can tell you one thing that was NOT love-- my feelings for this book. Yuck. It took me 2 weeks to read it. I could only read 20-25 pages at a time. This novel is based upon A Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare. The main female characters are Helena and Hermia. The story pretty much follows the plot of Midsummer, only in modern times. To add something interesting to the story, the play within the play is the school production of Romeo & Juliet. It is an all male cast, just like in Shakespeare's time. Hermia and Helena are involved with the production as is their male love interests.

This book is told in various ways. It is told in emails, notes to each other, and diary entries. While I usually enjoy books like this, particularly books where the reader gets multiple persepectives, I didn't enjoy this one. The characters were really quite annoying. Hermia would sign her notes to Helena with things like "cartwheels, pinwheels, waterwheels, Hermia". Huh? There wans't anything in the entire note about wheels, water, or anything. It was just annoying.

I would recommend this to anyone that likes Shakespeare, since they might enjoy the parallels between this books and the play upon which it is based. Anyone who likes sappy boosk with overly dramatic characters might also enjoy this one. But, most readers won't like it at all.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Who's Your Daddy? ****

Sandoval, Lynda. Who's Your Daddy? New York: Simon Pulse, 2004.

This was pure chick lit, but it was fun and entertaining. Lila and her friends Caressa and Meryl are part of the "Who's Your Daddy" club because all of their fathers have shaped who they are. Lila's father is the chief of police. Caressa's is a famous blues musician. Meryl's father is the school's disciplinarian and football coach. Because of their fathers, it scares off most guys they are interested in.

The three friends want boyfriends. They have a "Dumb Supper" which is a ritualistic meal that tells you who will be your true love. Things go awry. Lila gets into a little trouble, and her father makes her join the student Police Squad, which Lila calls the Junior Narcs. Caressa decides she is meant to be with a young musician, and writes him a letter saying her father wants to produce his next album. Meryl falls in love with a new student from Bosnia who is not interested in dating her because she isn't American enough-- Meryl's family doesn't have a TV and they don't watch movies.

The year progresses with many funny situations. Most chapters are told from the perspective of Lila, although some chapters alternate between Caressa and Meryl as well. There are no major issues here, just good fun reading about these three girls and their experiences throughout the year. The ending is really predictable, but readers won't care because the writing is so funny that they will be entertained regardless.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Cruise Control ****

Trueman, Terry. Cruise Control. New York: Harper, 2004.

This is a companion novel to Trueman's Stuck in Neutral. In Stuck..., Shawn is a regular boy, stuck inside his body that won't cooperate with him. He is intelligent and is able to think, but he is unable to communicate in any way. He has frequent seizures. He becomes convinced his father is trying to kill him.

In this novel, we get the perspective of Paul, Shawn's older brother. Shawn is a straight-A student, but he has problems with anger. He beats people up at the drop of a hat. He also hates his father, a Pulitzer-prize winning poet that abandoned him, his mother, sister, and Shawn, leaving them all to deal with Shawn without him. Shawn can't resolve his anger with his father so he takes his anger out on others. Shawn's dream is to get a basketball scholarship, but he feels that even if he gets one, he won't be able to leave his family. Shawn stuggles through growing up and what to do with his future, while also strggling with his love/hate he feels for his father and the pure hate he has for his father.

It isn't necessary to read Stuck in Neutral to read this book as it stands all on its own. Reading both, however, would be a better experience, to see what Shawn and Paul are thinking and feeling. Both books are short and easy to read. Most readers will enjoy this book.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Jude *****

Morgenroth, Kate. Jude. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004.

While this books is supposed to be a young adult novel, it reads more like an adult book with a teenage character. Not that it matters as this book is fantastic. It had me on the edge of my seat, so to speak, from beginning to end.

Jude grows up with his father, who is an abusive drug dealer. He has always moved from place to place, but has been living in a Hartford slum for the last 2 years. His father is killed in their home while Jude looks on. He has to promise to never tell who it was, or they will kill him too. The detectives find some paperwork that indicates that Jude was kidnapped by his father when he was just three months old. He had always thought he was abandoned by his mother. It also turns out that his mother is DA for West Hartford.

Jude has a hard time fitting in with his mother and her boyfriend Harry. He also has problems at his new private school. He is asked to help some kids find drugs. While he doesn't sell drugs himself, he connects the kids with some people in his old neighborhood. Detectives, who are still trying to get him for his father's murder, see him with these known drug dealers.

Harry convinces Jude it would be a good idea to get caught selling drugs. His mother is running for mayor and looking tough on crime and drugs would help her case. Harry and Jude set up an elaborate scheme wherein Jude gets caught by his mother and then gets arrested selling drugs. Jude does this to help his mother, from whom he desperately desires acceptance. He is promised by Harry that once she is elected, they will get him out of juvenile detention. This do horribly awry and Jude ends up in the state penitentiary and Harry refuses to help him. Turns out Harry was just trying to get rid of him.

The story progresses from there, with Jude falling apart in prison and then finally building himself up. His goal is still to be accepted by his mother. For that, he needs Harry to tell his mother the truth, which is harder said than done.

Anyone that reads this book will be sucked into the story. Jude is a good person, who lived a hard life. He is flawed because he makes some silly mistakes and is too trusting of some people he shouldn't trust. But, all the same, Jude really is a good person in there, and wants to make something of himself. He is truly the underdog, and we root for him the entire time. All he really wants his entire life is love and acceptance, and it has eluded him for much of his life. Highly recommended for anyone that enjoys stories about crime and anyone that enjoys suspenseful books. This one is a litttle longer than most YA titles, but most readers won't even notice because they will be sucked in right away and have to get to the end to see how it ends.