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Exodus by Julie Bertagna

18th August 2009

If you can breeze past a few sermons about global warming and polar icecaps melting, this was a great book.  Mara’s town is a tiny shrinking island in the Atlantic.  As far as the people in her town know, their island is the only dry land left on earth.  But as the waters keep rising, they must find a new home.  Mara convinces the islanders to set off in search of a rumored refuge–sky cities built high above the wet earth.

New Mercies by Sandra Dallas

17th August 2009

Dallas veers from her typical story setting (Midwest plains) and sets this book in Mississippi.  Nora travels from Colorado to Mississippi to claim an inheritance from an aunt she never knew.  As she settles her aunt’s estate, Nora uncovers some secrets in her family tree, and finds peace in her own life as well.

If I didn’t know how outstanding Dallas’ books could be, I would’ve said this one was pretty good.  But I know her books can be so much better.  The two things I enjoy the most about Dallas’ books are the strong friendships that her female characters develop, and the unique and powerful conversations they enjoy together.  New Mercies didn’t have those strong friendships, and the character development felt kind of flat.  I had to struggle to finish this one.

Addie Ann must solve the mystery of who ruined their community garden, or her Uncle Bump will go to jail for a crime he didn’t commit.  A good book that went a little long in some parts for me.  Overall, an excellent coming of age story, and an inspiring example of what one girl can accomplish when she dares to tell the truth and stand up for justice.

The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World Another unique book by Konigsburg, linking the seemingly unrelated stories of two young boys, their eccentric neighbor, an art museum, an estate sale and a tragic secret from the persecutions of World War II.  An excellent story for middle schoolers who are looking for something to read that goes much deeper than the typical middle school dramas.