The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher

family fletcherI was planning on reading this long before I did, but here I found myself, a  year after it was published, reading all about this wonderful family. This is a book about four brothers and their relationship with their dads. The thing I loved about this, though, is that the fact that they’re the children of a gay couple is not at the forefront of this story.

 

The primary plot point of this book was the children themselves, and their growing pains as they evolve as individuals and as a family. It was refreshing to read a book that wasn’t all about the parents here. Yes, at one point Sam (the eldest at age 12) makes a comment about “theater kids” and then has to backtrack a bit, but that’s it! As someone who reads a lot of LGBTQ lit and seeks out good stories, I was so thoroughly pleased with this one. Good on you, Levy!

 

Speaking of… Guess who got a shout-out from the author after her tweet? tweet

Agree? Disagree? Do you have a book featuring two dads that you loved more? I’d love to hear from you!

The War That Saved My Life

the war that saved my lifeI find myself reading through the Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award List for this year, and I’m so pleased I made this decision. Most states have these lists, this is the list of books educators and librarians form Illinois want kids to read this year. It’s geared towards older elementary-middle school-aged children. I never would have chosen this book on my own. Not because the premise isn’t interesting to me (it’s set during WWII in Great Britain, ad the protagonist is a  girl with a club foot), but because I generally don’t like historical fiction. It pains me to say it because, as a librarian, aren’t I supposed to like everything? I don’t. But I really enjoyed this book.

Ada has a club foot. Her Mam doesn’t want the neighbors to know about her daughter’s deficiencies, and so has forbidden her to leave the house. When she “misbehaves,” her Mam shuts her in a cupboard under the sink where cockroaches and rats like to crawl on her because it’s so damp. Ada’s brother Jamie is six, and given their socioeconomic standing in combination with his age, has no concept of why his sister is treated the way she is. When the children are sent out of London because of the threat of air raids, Ada and Jamie run away in the night and join the other children at the train station. Hours later, they’re in a station in Kent where Ada realizes, to her embarrassment, that they’re the dirtiest children there. Nobody volunteers to take them in.

The children are brought to a woman who lives alone in a large house, who’s “friend” Rebecca has recently died. She’s depressed and doesn’t believe she has any right to take care of children. Slowly, they start to heal each other’s emotional wounds. Susan, the children’s caretaker, has a good understanding of psychology as she seems to know how to calm Ada down when she gets truly upset.

While this story is historical fiction, this book’s sucker-punch was how the children overcame their mother’s abuse. After years of telling the neighbors that her daughter was too stupid to leave the house (I’m paraphrasing here. The words used were not the kind I’d like to repeat) they were finally in the custody of a loving adult. There are real life children who went through that kind of abuse then and now, whether because people were too poor to afford treatment for physical handicaps or because they didn’t understand them well enough. This story has a happy ending of acceptance and friendship for the children, as many of the true victims of abuse don’t.

Has anyone else out there read this book? If you haven’t, would you based on his review?

The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

Publication Date:

August 18, 2015

Review:

Absolutely stunning. This novel takes on the idea of ghosts, both real and emotional as they affect an entire family. Cara’s family struggles to survive during the accident season every year. From October 1-31, there’s an increase in scrapes, broken bones, and other more fatal injuries. Like when her dad drowned. Or her uncle. This accident season, even more odd things are happening. For one, Elsie (the weird mousy girl from school) is in every one of her photos. Not just the ones she’s taken in this last few weeks, but in every photo on her phone and in the photo albums at her mom’s house, Elise is there… watching. When she tries to confront Elise about everything, she’s not at school and nobody knows where she is. Or who she is, for that matter.

Then there’s Bea. Her best friend has been acting extra weird around her sister Alice, and she and her ex-stepbrother Sam are both starting to notice. Speaking of Sam, he’s looking at her differently these days too. Just as it’s about to come to a close, Bea reads (in her Tarot deck) that this accident season will be one of the worst.

Filled with ghosts and monsters straight out of a fairy tale, this novel set in rural Ireland was a real treat of a ghost story. It’s anything but typical, and I can’t wait for someone to please please please read this so that I can actually talk to them about it!

Verdict:

Holly Black meets John Green meets Ireland. Boom. (That’s an “I would recommend to anyone” for all of you not familiar with my weirdness).

Have you read this book? Is there anything similar out there that I can read before I lose my mind? Can we start a support group? 

Winger

Winger: Andrew SmithFor my Young Adult Literature class, we’re doing “Sex, Drugs & Rock & Roll” as our topic this week. I picked Winger up from the library I work at about a week and a half ago and decided this would be the first book I read for this week’s class because of the cover alone. Look at it: It’s so stark and somehow reminds me of an Instagram shot this kid would have taken for his friends. The whole book jacket is amazing; the back is a sketch (presumably done by Ryan Dean–similar to the style of the ones throughout the entire novel–of the front cover image. It’s a mirror image cartoon. Bloody brilliant. I love the advertising and planning that had to have gone into making the cover for Winger.

Plot

Ryan Dean West is a 14-year-old Junior at Pine Mountain boarding school (it’s got boys and girls in it). He’s been placed in “Opportunity Hall” or “O-Hall” for bad behavior, meaning his friends aren’t going to be in his dorm. He struggles with bullying, and being seen as a child. He’s a 14-year-old boy. So (obviously) there’s this girl… Annie. A brilliant character to play opposite Ryan Dean. His nickname is “Winger” because that’s the position he plays on the rugby team. The team captain is Joey (he has no nickname because Joey is already short enough) who is the only openly gay student at PM.

Enter the Halloween Dance–that pivotal night. JP, Winger’s best friend prior to Junior year, asks Annie to the dance. What a traitor. Seanie, JP’s roommate, thinks Winger is overreacting. Joey, Winger’s new best friend thinks Winger should have grown a pair and asked Annie before anyone else could have. Winger thinks JP deserves a punch in the face.

This book reads like the tried and true thoughts of an adolescent boy–lots of sarcasm, attitude, humor, & regret. However, the ending has a tragic twist. Will Annie ever see Winger as anyone but her “adorable” best friend? Will JP and Winger reconcile? WHAT HAPPENS AT THE END? Read and find out, buddies.

Subject Headings

Young Adult, Coming of Age, Contemporary, Humor, Tragedy, Young Love, Boarding School

Appeal

compelling, steady, easy, candid, darker, hopeful, gritty, foreboding, introspective, moving, playful, poignant, stark, unpretentious, detailed characters, eccentric, sympathetic characters, strong secondary characters, authentic, character-centered, issue-oriented, twists, strong language, rural, small-town, stark, contemporary, unembellished, vivid, witty.

Remembrance of Things I Forgot

Remembrance of Things I Forgot

This is one of those books I fully expected to dislike. It’s got a science fiction element to it. It’s political. It’s about a breakup (I usually like romantic-comediy-esque books, where the protagonist falls in love during the development and the grand finale is a kiss and happily ever after. This book picks up after the “ever after” and during the “embittered” phase). HOWEVER. However I really did love this book. So much so that when I did a presentation on Remembrance of Things I Forgot: A Novel for my GSLIS “Readers’ Advisory” class, I raved about it. You can tell when someone really loved a book and when someone just pretends to love a book so that other people can read said book and they can both gripe about it later. This was a situation in the former category. I had people coming up to me after class asking about both Remembrance and about the books I thought were similar to it.

Here’s what I wrote for class:

It’s 2006 and John Sherkston has been with his partner, Taylor Esgard, for 15 years. Although he is a successful entrepreneur, John lives a life full of regret that has embittered him to the world. Just when he decides to break things off with Taylor, the latter calls and informs him he has succeeded in creating a time machine. John goes to see Taylor’s life work and is greeted by a politician John hates: Dick Cheney. Cheney sends John back to 1986 without permission and John teams up with his younger self–who calls “Junior”–to get back to 2006, stay away from the Young and Old Dick Cheneys, meet up with Young Taylor, and try to erase some of the eldest John’s regrets. The trio travels to upper state New York to see John’s parents, Texas to see George W. Bush, and California to see John’s sister Carol. Will all their travels erase some of John’s regrets? Will John, Taylor, and Junior end up irrevocably changing the future for the worst? Will 2006-era Taylor ever come back to 1986 to save his lifelong love, John? Read Remembrance of Things I Forgot: A Novel to find out.

Subject Headings:

Time Travel (Past), Breakups, Homosexual Relations

Appeal:

Builds in intensity, contemplative, candid, bittersweet, dark humor, flawed characters, nonlinear storyline, urban, historic, well-crafted, witty

Similar Titles:

  1. I’ll also add that there is far too little LGBTA literature out there, and that I really, REALLY struggled to find any similar fiction works. But Will Grayson, Will Grayson byJohn Green & David Levithan, although it was a YA book, seemed to fit the bill.
  2. As for non-fiction, a book that Remembrance made me want to read was The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family by Dan Savage (creator of “Savage Lovecast”). Although it’s obviously not science fiction, I did feel like Savage’s struggle to fit into his family was comparable to John Sherkston’s struggle. Do yourself a favor and read this book!