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When Jamie’s father leaves their family, and his aunt Saphy has an accident that leaves her needing a caretaker, Jamie and his mom move to northern Michigan to live with, and care for, his aunt. Suffering from a head injury, Aunt Saphy can’t remember anything day to day. Jamie has a dark secret that he’d love to forget, but he can’t. With the help of a new friend, Audrey, Jamie sets out to help his aunt, but ends up finding answers of his own.

This book was phenomenal. Weeks has woven together Jamie’s and his aunt Saphy’s stories in a way that reminds me of Gary Schmidt’s books.While not as rich in historical detail as Schmidt, Weeks develops her characters and reveals the plot at just the right pace. I also love how she strikes the perfect balance of Jamie being alone with his secret, without making all of the adults in his life completely incompetent. Highly recommended for readers of all ages.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

01st September 2010

I won’t spend a lot of time reviewing a book that has been reviewed thousands of times already.  But here are a few thoughts:

  • I’m sad that this series is done.  Start to finish, I absolutely loved it.  I even held onto this book for a day before I started reading it–how silly is that?  But part of me didn’t want to start it, because I didn’t want it to be done.
  • This final book felt more rushed to me than the previous two.  Collins did a lot of filling in the gaps, especially in the first half of the book.  While it was all necessary information, the book had fewer action sequences, less suspense and more history.
  • Collins still managed to surprise me at the end.
  • I think Katniss ended up with the wrong guy.
  • I love Katniss’ character–she’s strong, she’s smart, she thinks through her actions, she accepts the consequences for her actions, she loves her family, she fights for what’s important.
  • And overall?  One of my favorite series ever.

Outstanding!  A brand-new prequel to the Babysitters Club series.  I loved it and now I want to re-read the series again.  Fans young and old will appreciate this new addition to a classic series.

Through recorded cassette tapes, Hannah reveals to her friend Clay the 13 reasons why she committed suicide.  Suspenseful and heartbreaking; I had a hard time putting it down.  The alternating narration between Clay’s life and Hannah’s voice on the tapes keeps the story moving quickly.

The one feeling I was left with overall though, was that suicide is a glamorous way to go.  In the end, Hannah is able to explain her reasons for killing herself, make her enemies feel bad for hurting her, and bid farewell to her grief-stricken almost boyfriend.  It’s the ultimate, “They’ll miss me when I’m gone” fantasy come true.  If I had a child reading this book, I would definitely want them to explore this topic from other points of view.

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist

06th February 2010

Dorrit is 50 years old, self employed, unmarried and childless.  Her society has labeled her as “dispensable.”  Dorrit and others like her are required to submit their bodies to physical and psychological experiments, drug tests and even organ donations.  When their usefulness as experimental subjects has passed, the final donation is scheduled and the dispensables are euthanized.

Dorrit is resigned to living out her remaining days in the luxurious facility which houses the dispensables.  Although she misses her independence, privacy, the outdoors, and her beloved dog, she begins to make new friends, works on her writing and tries not to think about the future.  Then she falls in love with Johannes, and everything changes.  Although society claims Dorrit and Johannes are dispensable, the couple now have everything to live for.

This book is haunting.  It describes a society that is horrifying both for its brutal definition of “usefulness” and for its similarity to our own.  Abortion on demand, mercy killing, rationed or unaffordable health care and slurs against persons with disabilities are ordinary occurrences.  How much longer before we take the next step and begin writing our own definition of “dispensable persons?”

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