Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Sarah Dessen, Sara Zarr, and Shawn Goodman

This past week I managed to finish up three YA books I've been anxious to read. Two of them are by authors I love (and preorder everything they publish) and the third is by a new-to-me author who I'll be watching from now on.

The Moon and More is Sarah Dessen's latest book for teens and is another great summer read from this favorite author of mine. She transports you to Colby, a beachside town, and right into Emaline's life. 

It's Emaline's summer before college and she just isn't sure what's right anymore. Stay or leave? Old boyfriend or new guy? Allow her dad back in her life or not? Dessen tackles typical issues with teens with a knowledge unlike any other adult author. Her characters feel incredibly authentic and her beach location is ideal for summer reading. Unfortunately, no beach trip for us this year, so I lived vicariously through Colby for a couple of days while reading this one. 

The Moon and More was not my favorite Dessen novel (hard to top Lock and Key and Along for the Ride for me), but I still really enjoyed it. Emaline did come off a bit flat at times and, unfortunately, I didn't totally care about either of the guys, but the setting and realistic writing made me still enjoy the book.  I just wish she could write a little bit faster and give us a book a year!

Sara Zarr is another author that I always buy, despite my rule of only owning books I've read and loved. I just don't have the space for those books that linger on my TBR shelf for months and years before I ever even open them. Read it and either give away or keep. But, I digress. 

The Lucy Variations was a beautiful as I expected. Lucy, an accomplished pianist, walked off the stage at a concert 8 months ago and hasn't played since. All the pressure has finally moved off of her and onto her brother, equally talented. When a new teacher is introduced to her brother, Lucy feels the need to protect him, so another member of her family doesn't end up in her same mindset, but what ends up happening is an overwhelming urge to play again. 

Zarr is a writer that gives her readers the emotions she wants them to experience, perfectly delivered in amazing main characters. I always want to soak in her writing, yet speed through it to see what's coming up at the end. Lucy wasn't exactly the most likable character, but I think that was purposeful. She had such a crazy life performing all around the world, that she didn't always understand the proper way to act. The journey of her finding joy again was simply beautiful. 

Sara Zarr is another one I wish could just write a little quicker!

Shawn Goodman is not an author I've come across before, but Kindness for Weakness is the type of surprise book I'll be recommending to lots of readers. He takes a troubled main character and makes him so very real... I loved James and could see him in a close family member of mine that went through very similar situations. James is the teen of today. He's a kid that just wants to impress his brother and belong to a group and when it lands him in juvie he's initially lost. Then, through interactions with the other inmates and his overall experience while locked up, James grows into an amazing man. From boy to man through a difficult door.

James needed juvie to become a stronger person and teens need this book to view the prison system from the inside. Hopefully, reading James' story will inspire other teens to stay away from situations that could very easily land them in the same place. I was impressed with both the plot and characters and will definitely be sending a couple copies to the DC high school I donate my review copies to.

I'd also love if the publisher would release the paperback soon...I'd love to send copies to an incarcerated teen I know through church, but the jail only allows paperback books. Just a tip Random House ;)

I purchased The Moon and More and The Lucy Variations, but a big thank you to Random House for the review copy of Kindness for Weakness!

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