Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Does My Head Look Big in This? ****

Abdel-Fattah, Randa. Does My Head Look Big in This? 2005.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel about a Muslim girl living in Australia. Amal's family lives near Melbourne. While they are somewhat strict and religious, Amal has never worn the hijab, nor has she even been encouraged to do so. Suddenly, she decides to start wearing it full-time, not just to religious services. This is a big decisions in a post 9/11 world, in which Muslims from all over the world were looked at with suspicion. The hijab would bring attention to her and make her appear different, which is the last thing any teenager needs. Amal has a crush on Adam, who is white and Christian. He doesn't seem to get why she wants to wear the hijab, but does try to understand. Because her culture doesn't really allow for dating, particularly outside their religion, their relationship really can't go anywhere, but she likes him anyway.

There are other side stories going on with Amal's friends, which brings more depth to the novel. Simone is a little overweight and spends her life obsessing over her weight. The most interesting character is Leila who is also Muslim, but her family is ultra-conservative. Her mother doesn't even want her to continue her schooling and continues to try to marry her off to every available guy she comes across. They don't like Leila going out and particularly at night, thinking it makes her look like a bad girl. All Leila wants to do is graduate HS and go on the become a lawyer. This conflict adds to the story and shows the differences that exist even within Islam itself.

I recommend this novel for anyone interested in learning a little bit about Islam. And, certainl Muslim teens will love being able to find someone like themselves in a book for once!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Thousand Splendid Suns *****

Hosseini, Khaled. A Thousand Splendid Suns. 2007.

While this book is somewhat advanced, I wanted to mention it here because it was superb. This is the author of The Kite Runner which was awesome. I didn't think he could top that one, but he did manage to do just that with this book.

Hosseini follows three decades of upheaval in Afghanistan. Unlike the characters in The Kite Runner, these characters don't leave Afghanistan, so they are there to see all of the turmoil that went on there for decades. The main character is Mariam, who is the illegitimate daughter of a rich man. He eventually marries her off to an older man when she is only in her teens. Rasheed is old and mean. After she is unable to produce an heir for him, he becomes even meaner. Then, he takes another wife.

Laila is that wife. She is alone and scared. Her parents have died from a bomb. The love of her life has left for Pakistan. Mariam and Rasheed, who had been her neighbors, take her in and nurse her back to health. When she finds out Tariq is dead, she agrees to marry Rasheed because she realizes she has nowhere else to go.

As time wears on, things continue to get worse as the Taliban takes over the entire country. Rasheed becomes even meaner, particularly now that the Taliban has stripped women of all of their power.

I highly recommend this book to advanced readers. This was a gripping novel and readers will not be disappointed.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The A-List ****

Dean, Zoey. The A-List. New York: Little Brown & Company, 2003.

We have another hit series on our hands. Similar to the Gossip Girl series, this new series features rich spoiled kids who are backstabbing each other while wearing Manolos.

Anna, a high school senior, decides to leave NYC to live with her father in LA. On the plane ride out, she meets Ben, a student at Princeton, who is traveling home to LA. They hit it off and he invites her to a wedding he will be attending that evening. The wedding is between a hot A-List actor and his very pregnant and very young girlfriend. His daughter, Sam, isn't happy about it, but is looking forward to seeing Ben at the wedding because she is secretly in love with him. So are her two best friends. All three plan to hook up with Ben at the wedding, but haven't told each other. Imagine their surprise when he shows up with some stranger he met on the plane. The action all happens in 24 hours, from the plane ride, through the wedding, and through to the next morning.

This isn't exactly a literary masterpiece, BUT, it will be very popular with teen girls, much like the similar Gossip Girl series. The rest of the series will probably continue on with all four girls fighting over Ben or various other guys, and lots of other drama. The plot will be interesting for teen girls and keep them coming back for more.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Good Girls *** 1/2

Ruby, Laura. Good Girls. 2006.

This was a fairly good book. Audrey randomly hooks up with Luke at parties. When it becomes apparent that they are only going to hook up and never have a relationship, she cuts things off with him at a party, but not before giving him a parting blow job in a closet. While she is *ahem* on her knees, someone opens the door and takes a picture of the couple but they don't know who it was. The next day, the picture is flying around the internet and being sent from cell phone to cell phone. It even appears on the school's library computers. All of a sudden, Audrey goes from being a good girl to being the school slut, even thought she is a virgin.

Girls will enjoy this book. It's a serious topic, but it is dealt with in a non-serious sort of way. I don't mean that in a bad way. It's not preachy or anything, it's just an interesting and entertaining story.

Gossip Girl *****

Von Ziegesar, Cecily. Gossip Girl. Boston, Little Brown, 2002.

Is this series a literary masterpiece? Absolutely not. Is this series wildly popular? Heck, yes. That is why there are five starts up there next to the title. If it's popular, I think it's a good thing, because it means people are reading something. I read the first book and the next few in the series over a year ago, but I couldn't read the rest because they are always checked out. One thing I know is that they are definitely addictive.

This series is basically a soap opera in a book. It's fabulous. Blair and her friends are all rich and go to a fancy prep school. Blair is dating Nate, who goes to a fancy prep school for boys. All of a sudden, Serena, her former best friend, comes home suddenly and throws things totally off-kilter. Serena used to go out with Nate and now Nate doesn't really want Blaire anymore. There are many other characters that will all play a part in the series as it continues to unfold. The series is supposed to have 11 books in it, total. I can't wait to get to the end!

Anyone that enjoys drama drama drama will like this book. It it chick lit at its finest-- it's addictive and juicy. If you haven't read this series, what are you waiting for?!

Monday, June 04, 2007

What Happened to Cass McBride *****

Giles, Gail. What Happened to Cass McBride? 2006.

This was a great book! This book alternates perspective between Cass, who is currently buried alive; Kyle, who is now in jail; and Ben, the cop working the case. Kyle has buried Cass alive because he blames her for the death of his brother David. David was a shy kid who had a hard time at home, dealing with constant criticism from his mother. When he asks Cass out on a date, she is polite to him but writes a note to her friend telling her how David was a loser and had just asked her out. David read the note and then killed himself by hanging himself from the tree in his front yard. Blaming her for the death, Kyle decides to bury her alive to torture her like her brother had been tortured his whole life.

This was a great novel that really gets into the heads of all of the characters. The reader will be fascinated by all of the characters and won't want to put the book down until they get to the end.