Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick

Share

gorgeous

Gorgeous
Author: Paul Rudnick
Published April 30th, 2013 by Scholastic Press

Goodreads Summary: Inner beauty wants out. When eighteen-year-old Becky Randle’s mother dies, she’s summoned from her Missouri trailer park to meet Tom Kelly, the world’s top designer. He makes her an impossible offer: He’ll create three dresses to transform Becky from a nothing special girl into the most beautiful woman who ever lived.

Becky thinks Tom is a lunatic, or that he’s producing a hidden camera show called World’s Most Gullible Poor People. But she accepts, and she’s remade as Rebecca. When Becky looks in the mirror, she sees herself – an awkward mess of split ends and cankles. But when anyone else looks at Becky, they see pure five-alarm hotness.

Soon Rebecca is on the cover of Vogue, the new Hollywood darling, and dating celebrities. Then Becky meets Prince Gregory, heir to the British throne, and everything starts to crumble. Because Rebecca aside, Becky loves him. But to love her back, Gregory would have to look past the blinding Rebecca to see the real girl inside. And Becky knows there’s not enough magic in the world.

A screamingly defiant, hugely naughty, and impossibly fun free fall past the cat walks, the red carpets, and even the halls of Buckingham Palace, Gorgeous does the impossible: It makes you see yourself clearly for the first time.

My Review: This book is more than just a retelling of Cinderella, it is a look at our society and the importance (or lack there of) of physical appearance and celebrity. I would love to know which celebrities influenced Rudnick for some of the crazy characters in Gorgeous.  I also loved Becky as a person—she is quite funny and a very good person, even after she dives into Rebecca. Readers who love romance, fashion, Hollywood, and royalty will find a winner with this book and will also find a book that delves into deeper issues than it seems originally.

Teacher’s Tools For Navigation: Although parts of of this book could be pulled out for read alouds to talk about satire or society, I know that where this book will find its home is in classroom and school libraries.

Discussion Questions: What celebrities do you think Rudnick was referring to when he wrote _____?; What is the theme of Gorgeous?; Would you have chosen to stay as Rebecca or gone back to Becky?

We Flagged: “But running away, with two dresses to go, wasn’t just timid and cowardly. A fast exit would be an insult to my mom. Because, when she didn’t shred that phone number, my mother had held out this possibility. She’d handed me that plane ticket, or maybe a pair of iridescent couture wings, and now I was flying, or at least cleared for takeoff.

Locking eyes with the woman on the TV screen, I knew that I had to find out where Rebecca might take me. Maybe Rebecca was more than a shell; maybe she was an amazing means of transportation, a surreal, hypersonic, goddess-shaped rocket ship, blasting out of East Trawley. And because Rebecca could do anything, maybe I could finally learn what had happened to my mother, and what had destroyed her.” (p. 58)

Read This If You Loved: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, Skinny by Donna Conner

Recommended For: 

classroomlibrarybuttonsmall

Signature

In This Moment by Wendy Glenn

Share

page-0jpg-1
In This Moment

Author: Wendy Glenn
Manuscript Available at Macmillan’s Swoon Reads (www.swoonreads.com)

SwoonReads Summary: Sometimes, going through the motions feels like all we can manage, but it takes love to truly live.

Sixteen-year-old Laney Pritzkau lives with her hippie father in Connecticut. The unexpected death of her mother two years prior maintains a hold on her. She keeps her relationship circle small, lessening the likelihood of any future loss. It’s summer, and Laney babysits the energetic twin boys across the street, hangs out at the mall and beach with her two best girlfriends, and volunteers at Harmony House, the foster care home where her father works as a counselor. She wills the days to go by so she can flip her calendar to the next week, the next month, the next year, to keep moving forward and avoid the residual sadness and anger that bubble up when she pauses to consider life without a mother. Then she meets Evan–and leans that what’s most important is what’s in this moment.

Review: This is a beautifully written novel that allows readers to grapple with complex issues. My heart ached for Laney as she longed for her mother in difficult situations, and as a future parent, I couldn’t help but appreciate the connection she had with her father. Too often, parents are put in stereotypical, negative roles in books that feature young adult characters, and I appreciated the warmth and love Laney’s father emanated. Their relationship is comparable with that of Atticus and Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, and teachers might find it valuable to pair passages between both texts.

The language of this novel was very poetic. Often, one or two passages impact me strongly within a novel. But with this text, I was continually scribbling down lines that forced me to stop and consider aspects of friendship, love, loss, and life.

Consider the beautiful language here:

“‘When I was growing up, I lived next door to the oldest, wisest woman on earth.   Her name was Sadie, and she had all the answers I could ever hope to discover.  Why is the sky blue?  Because God likes to paint in pastels.  Why does Jason keep teasing me in front of his friends?  Because Jason thinks you’re something special.  Why do Mom and Dad fight?  Because real love is worth the battle’” (p. 54).

Holy cow. Did that hit you straight in the heart? And on the flip side, sections of the novel made me laugh out loud, like this one:

“’Edgar Allan Poe.  My ferret.  He’s a tormented soul, obsessed with me, really.  Won’t stay home alone.  I’m his Annabel Lee’” (p. 112).

This is a book with strong literary merit that will greatly appeal to readers. I hope Macmillan considers publishing it because I’d love to have a hard copy in my hands. As a teacher, there would be many passages that I could draw upon, and more importantly, it would be well-loved by students. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the ending is stunning.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: Laney has great difficulty processing her grief over the loss of her mother. Loss is an incredibly difficult, intangible reality of life. Laney’s coping mechanism is that she doesn’t allow people to get close to her. She believes this will prevent her from having to experiencing these feelings again in her lifetime. It would be valuable for teachers to help students understand and learn about different coping mechanisms that humans use when they are grieving. Alternatively, teachers might have students consider where Laney is in the steps of the grieving process. I also imagine that many students would be interested in exploring and understanding Laney’s friendships. What do each of her friends offer her? Students always find their own meaning with texts, and this is certainly one that offers many ideas for students to explore.

Discussion Questions: How do Laney’s friendships differ from her relationship with Evan? Is the love that exists in a friendship different from the love that exists in an intimate relationship with a significant other?; By the end of the novel, do you feel a sense of hope for Laney? Has she completely overcome her inability to form close relationships, or do you think she still has work to do?; How does Laney’s father provide support for her? Do they cope with her mother’s death in the same way?

We Flagged: 

“Why is it that people get so excited by an opportunity to escape from reality, to cross that line from reality to fantasy?  Why do they crave a temporary fix?  They can hop on a cruise ship, pitch a tent, take that flight to somewhere, anywhere, in the quest to abandon reality for a short time, but to what end?  Eventually, they all have to come home to their mundane existence and, in the return, find themselves feeling as though they’re missing more than before they left in the first place.  And that doesn’t even take into consideration the lasting scars brought on by lost luggage, sunburn, and having to navigate airport security” (p. 10).

“‘Prove to me that your mom was right about love, that it’s possible, that it has the potential to make us better, stronger.  When you find the right guy, make him believe, too'” (p. 43).

Please note: The above quotes are from the manuscript posted on www.swoonreads.com. The quotes and page numbers may change when the book is published.

Read This If You Loved: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler,  Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen,The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han, The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan MatsonThe Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

Recommended For:

 closereadinganalysisbuttonsmall  litcirclesbuttonsmall  classroomlibrarybuttonsmall

026F3FBCC8C3913BD3A4D3F6920340D5

The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle

Share

17290266

The Infinite Moment of Us
Author: Lauren Myracle
Expected Publication: August 20th, 2013 by Amulet Books (an imprint of ABRAMS books)

Summary: Wren Gray has always been perfect. As high school graduation approaches, she realizes that she doesn’t want to go to Emory, the college she was accepted into (early decision, of course), and she wants to do charity work in Guatemala through a program called Project Unity. Wren hasn’t told her parents this plan, and she knows they will be heart-broken. She has never dated a boy, but when Wren meets Charlie Parker, she wants to know more about him. Charlie is a hard-working student who spends most of his time helping his foster father in their family-owned cabinet shop. With a troubled past, Charlie is battling demons that constantly tell him he isn’t good enough. It isn’t until Wren waves back to him in the parking lot that he has the guts to pursue the girl of his dreams. This is a beautiful story of what happens when two souls collide—it explores love, a powerful force that is much deeper than just two physical bodies interacting with one another.

Review: Told from alternating perspectives, this novel seamlessly transitions between Wren’s and Charlie’s thoughts. As always, Myracle’s work embodies the culture of the environment she writes about. The language and details of the setting took me straight to Atlanta. As I am a Northerner and have never lived outside of Connecticut, I always love getting lost in Myracle’s settings. The characters are wonderfully complex. They have quirks and elements of their personalities that make them feel quite real. As an aside, I also found the names to be interesting. I don’t suspect it is intentional, but Wren Gray is best friends with Tessa. Tessa Gray is the main character in the Clockwork Angel Series. It made me think of many other characters in literature with the last name Gray. Overall, I loved this book. I am still madly in love with Myracle’s Shine, but I like how she can step inside the perceived boxes of many genres, as her focus here was a more romantic novel. The philosophical conversations between Wren and Charlie were my favorite part of The Infinite Moment of Us.

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: A warning of sorts—Lauren Myracle begins the novel with a note to readers. She says, “This book has sex in it. It’s not about sex, not exclusively, and I’m more interested in the mingling of Charlie’s and Wren’s souls than in the ways their bodies come together.” The sexual detail is certainly graphic, so I recommend this for mature readers. I have a special signature form for certain books in my classroom, and I find that this often inspires more kids to sign them out. I completely agree with Lauren Myracle after reading this book. It is about the way these two souls come together, and the sex is not a focal point.

Teachers could have students closely analyze the passages of dialogue between Wren and Charlie, where they philosophically debate life (see the sections I flagged below for a start). Additionally, the setting adds richness to this novel, and it would be great for students to analyze how these details add to the story. Many of the characters in this book act and respond in different ways (Wren, Charlie, Starrla, Tessa), and I think students would enjoy investigating the ways Myracle develops each of her characters.

Discussion Questions: What happens when two souls collide?; Is there a such thing as true love?; How does family influence a person’s actions?; Should our significant other be placed in a higher position than our friends and family?; What is home to us? Is it just a place?

We Flagged: “Sometimes the things we hide—aren’t they the parts of us that matter most?” (Chapter 1).

“‘I guess I think the world is more connected than people realize,” […] ‘I think…sometimes…that scientists…some scientists…want to package things up into neat little boxes. Explain, explain, explain, until there aren’t any mysteries left'” (Chapter 7).

“‘I’m just not sure a person’s home is determined by where he or she lives. I think home is more than that'” (Chapter 10).

Please note: The above quotes are from the Advanced Reader Copy. Chapter numbers are included instead of page numbers because the e-reader did not provide page numbers. The quotes may change when the book is published.

Read This If You Loved: Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles, Sarah Dessen’s books, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Recommended For:

classroomlibrarybuttonsmall

I would use a parent signature form for this one due to strong sexual content, but this is a definite must-have in the classroom library.

How much do we love Lauren Myracle? Have you read this one or pre-ordered it?

026F3FBCC8C3913BD3A4D3F6920340D5

**Thank you to NetGalley and ABRAMS books for sending me the Advanced Reader Copy for review!**

 

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Share

15795357

Eleanor and Park (Eleanor & Park)
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published February 26th, 2013 by St. Martin’s Griffin

Summary: Eleanor and Park have read Romeo and Juliet. They know that young love fades and is unachievable, but yet they still can’t resist each other. Park is a quiet Asian boy who is trying to disappear to avoid the drama of high school. When Eleanor, a large, red-headed girl, steps onto his schoolbus, he is embarrassed for her and wonders why she wouldn’t just dress “normally.” Eleanor has nowhere to sit and as the kids make fun of her and she looks beaten down and broken, Park, disgustedly, angrily tells her to just sit down in his seat. What he doesn’t realize then is that Eleanor will change his life.

Kellee’s Review: I love how slowly this book happens. It is like a pot of boiling water. It started out cold and then got warmer before it began boiling. This book is not a Twilight romance of love at first site; it is a true romance about getting to know each other and realizing that first impressions aren’t always correct.

Told in Eleanor and Park’s point of views, you get a 360 degree picture of the intensity of feelings that are happening. It is also through both of these point of views that you get to know both characters quite well and not just one side of the romance. The only negative is that I felt that both sides were only partially explored because of the two points of view. I wanted to know more about Eleanor’s past and I wanted to understand more why Park’s dad was disappointed in him. However, I know that if the story was only told by one of them, the whole story would not have been told.

My only issue is the end. It is what kept me from gushing about the book like others. I cannot talk about it here as it is spoiler, but I wish it had slowed down and matched the pace and tone of the rest of the book. I know there are many that disagree with me. After finishing I had a couple discussions on Twitter with tweeps who had finished the book and they all disagreed with me. But, as @katsok pointed out to me, “Books belong to the reader”, so I am sticking with how I feel. I would, though, LOVE to talk to Rainbow about the ending because I am so intrigued to learn about her decision making.

Ricki’s Review: I loved the subtle nuances of this book. While some readers might find this book to be a bit cheesy, Rowell intentionally uses languages to show the minute details of life. The imagery is stunning–readers are easily able to imagine themselves in each of the scenes. Eleanor and Park are realistic teenagers. Eleanor doesn’t have long, flowy blond hair, and Park isn’t clad with giant biceps and shaggy hair that sweeps across his brow. Teens will see themselves in the insecurities and feelings of these two beautiful people.

I know some readers have discussed they are dissatisfied with the end of the book (like Kellee), but I found it to be perfect. It makes the reader think, and I love books that make me think critically. I loved how the story didn’t just focus on the romance between Eleanor and Park. Their families were powerful influences on all of their emotions and actions. Both Eleanor and Park have qualities that make them unlikeable, and the English teacher in me kept screaming, “YES! These are truly round characters! I have to show my students sample passages to prove that characters can be just like people.”

Teacher’s Tools for Navigation: The language and sentence structure would make this a a fantastic choice for close analysis. The stylistic choices would make for rich class discussions. Teachers might consider assigning different pages for groups of students to analyze and then jigsawing to discuss Rowell’s language and style. Teachers might consider asking students to compare and contrast this book with other romances. They might discover that this is a more realistic love story, while other romances are a bit more idealistic. A good discussion could be had by looking at how Eleanor and Park dealt/felt about a situation since you have both points of view. It would also be a lot of fun to take a scene from the book and have the students rewrite it as if it took place in the 21st century.

Discussion Questions: How does this text differ from other contemporary romances?; Will a romantic teen relationship inevitably fail? Are Eleanor and Park doomed?; How do the characters’ home lives affect who they are as people?; How does Rowell effectively use language to convey the story?; How might the story be different if it was set twenty years later, in the current time period?; What do you think the 3 words are?

We Flagged: “Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive. As soon as he touched her, he wondered how he’d gone this long without doing it.” (p. 71)

“‘I don’t think I even breathe when we’re not together,’ she whispered. ‘Which means, when I see you on Monday morning, it’s been like sixty hours since I’ve taken a breath.'” (p. 111)

“Eleanor was right: She never looked nice. She looked like art and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel like something. Eleanor sitting next to him on the couch made Park feel like someone had opened a window in the middle of the room. Like someone had replaced all the air in the room with brand-new, improved air (now with twice the freshness). Eleanor made him feel like something was happening. Even when they were just sitting on the couch.” (p. 165)

Read This If You Loved: The Fault in our Stars  by John Green, Just One Day by Gayle Forman, Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Recommended For:

closereadinganalysisbuttonsmall litcirclesbuttonsmall classroomlibrarybuttonsmall

We both loved this one. What did you think?

026F3FBCC8C3913BD3A4D3F6920340D5 andSignature