Monday, June 25, 2012
capaill uisce—pronounced cappel ishka—as they are called) eat human flesh and drown their riders. The islanders race the horses each November in a dangerous and deadly race that brings the island brief fame and an economic burst. That's the background, and the island and the horses are central to the story. But the book is really about two teenagers who enter the races as strangers but slowly come together in spite of their rivalry. The book alternates between the viewpoints of Sean Kenndrick (an orphaned young man who has won the Scorpio Races four times and loves his water horse Corr more than life itself) and Kate "Puck" Connelly (also orphaned and racing to earn money to save her family's home and to keep her oldest brother from leaving for the mainland). Steifvater makes Thisby, with it's foggy, cold beach and crusty inhabitants seem like a real place. She also brings Puck and Sean to life slowly and deliberately until by the last chapters you know your heart will break because there is no way they both can achieve what they wish for. This is definitely a notable book—the starred reviews show that. For a reader with the persistence and patience to stay with it and live in Thisby for a while it will be a rewarding read.
It’s hard to feel sorry for Anna—she is spending her senior year of high school at a boarding school right in the middle of Paris where she quickly meets a new group of friends and begins to explore her new city and learns to enjoy the newfound freedom of living on her own. But Anna isn’t happy. Her father forced this new life on her and took her away from her hometown of Atlanta, her best friend Bridgette, and her almost-boyfriend, Toph. At first Anna spends time e-mailing Bridgette and planning her reunion with Toph (the last time she saw him they kissed but she’s not sure where they stand now). But when she meets handsome, charming Étienne St. Clair she can’t stop herself from falling for him. The only problem is that he already has a girlfriend. And even if he didn’t, her new friend Meredith clearly has a long-standing crush on him. But St. Clair seems to like Anna—at least he likes taking her around Paris, going to movies, and sitting by her at every meal. What’s a girl to do in the most romantic city on earth? How can she hide her feelings for him? And how can she be “best friends” with someone she loves so much? This is a predictable yet fun romance with a fine romantic setting and believable characters. Recommended for high school romantics and world travelers. (FYI—except for some well, French kissing, and teenage drinking this book is pretty innocent. It would be fine for 8th graders on up.)