Friday, September 03, 2010
Melody is the smartest kid in her class but no one knows it. She has cerebral palsy and has very little control of her body, and because of her physical disability people assume that she is mentally handicapped as well. She has spent most of her time in special education classes learning the alphabet over and over. Her parents and a special neighbor realize that there is more to Melody than meets the eye but they don't know how to let her communicate. Finally, when she is in fifth grade she gets a special computer that speaks for her and allows her to show who she really is inside. No one can believe it when she earns a spot on the school's quiz bowl team, but will that be enough to earn the acceptance of so-called "normal" kids? This is an important book for all ages—it should be read by elementary school students as well as young adults and adults. It shows a hopeful, determined character who carries on in spite of great difficulties and almost insurmountable odds.
I am not reading any other reviews or opinions of this book until after I write this post. I was anxiously awaiting this book and it did not disappoint me. I mainly read these books because of the characters—I am invested in Katniss, Peeta, and Gale and how they deal with the horrible, fascinating, and cruel world they are thrown into. The book begins in District 13 where most of the characters we've come to know (well, the ones that aren't dead) are starting a new life. (Except for Peeta who is being held captive in the capitol and is clearly being brainwashed and possibly tortured.) The rebellion is in full force and seems to be pretty successful. All the rebels need is their symbolic Mockingjay dressed in her costume and acting in inspiring commercials for the war (called propos). But Katniss has become angry and bitter. All she wants is to rescue Peeta and to kill President Snow. But she cooperates and of course disobeys orders and jumps right into the most dangerous situations possible. Several times I thought I knew where the action was going. Every time Suzanne Collins completely fooled me. Like the other books it is high on action and futuristic technology but we never lose sight of the humanity of the characters that we love. I won't say anything about the ending except to say that I was satisfied. Not happy, but it was fitting and perhaps all we could really hope for.
Three teenagers meet in a mental hospital. All have tried to commit suicide and all have deep secrets that they are reluctant to share. As they get to to know each other, Connor, Vanessa and Tony bond deeply and see the good in each other. Their problems are many--including sexual abuse, drug addiction, cutting, and of course, failed suicide attempts. Their friendship evolves as they go through different levels of therapy, and they seem to be improving when they are all chosen to go on a challenging wilderness adventure. What happens there is heartbreaking. This is a very mature book, and it will be enjoyed by readers who like reading about teen problems and complex friendships.
Don has a pretty miserable life. He is bullied at school, is not happy at home where he hates his step father and is at odds with his pregnant mother, and he only has one friend at school. When that friend starts hanging out with the jocks, Don is even more alone. The one thing that Don is passionate about is the graphic novel that he has been working on for years. His dream is to attend a comic book convention and get the attention of his idol, Bendis. A late-night text message from Kyra (AKA Goth Girl) begins a new chapter in his life. Goth Girl loves Fanboy's comic, but turns out to be a troubled person and there is nothing predictable about their relationship. Comic book fans and disenfranchised teens will relate to Don/Fanboy.