Reading Ann Herrick’s “Also Known As Lard Butt” was like I was twelve again, firmly ensconced in my bed, reading away summer afternoons instead of playing outside with the other kids. Herrick’s delightful story is the perfect ode to the turbulent teen years with a dash of wisdom that better things are going to happen.
The book finds Laura, a larger girl, trying to shut the kid up who gave her the awful nickname lard butt. Her attempts to ensure that the nickname she had to endure for so long does not rear its ugly head in junior high are what fuels the trials and tribulations that comprise most of the book. Funny friends, awful villains, a few random sub plots, and a dance (naturally), make Also Known As Lard Butt a fun read for kids of all ages.
Short story collections can either be an exercise in frustration or illuminating in its depiction of life and various subject matters. Fortunately, Kesia Alexander’s “It Ain’t Easy” falls into the latter category with spectacular results.
The stories that comprise Alexandra’s book are at once raw and beautiful. Alexandra is not afraid to tell a story that holds no punches when detailing what it was like growing up in Washington, DC. Instead of focusing on the historical monuments that have come to identify the city, Alexandra has chosen to tell stories of self-discovery, race relations, and sheer honesty. From childhood interactions from different social classes to the highly privileged, Alexandra’s prosaic talents and capacity as a true storyteller transcends the page.
With well-rounded characters who have clear motivations, It Ain’t Easy collectively is a reminder that what makes us all different is what makes us all the same. Emotion, happenstance and feeling is not relegated to one type of person or another. In fact, for a person so young, Alexandra touches upon the notion that it is the human condition that unites us all, regardless of one’s current situation.
Who doesn’t love a good coming of age book set in the 80’s? Throw in an author’s ability to properly document the multitude of emotions going through an 8th graders mind at any given moment and you’ve got a winner. The first in her Growing Pains series, Kendra’s Diaries by K.P. Smith is an exercise is fun and nostalgia, with a tinge of comedy that makes for a entertaining read.
Now this is what I’m talking about.
Emily Clarke’s Fallen is a short and effective take on teenage romance with ambitious goals that does not fail to live up to its intentions. The protagonist here, Julie Anderson, goes beyond the personification of a real teenager. Depicted as an already semi-morose person, things only get worse for Julie as she has to leave all that she’s ever known when her father gets a new gig in Texas. All of this pre-sadness is of course the perfect catalyst to the tumult of the relationship Julie soon finds herself in with the very conflicted fallen angel, Nick Landers.
I love me a good dystopian young adult story. Perhaps it is because they were not that prevalent back yonder when I was a teen, or perhaps it’s because they are truly a vessel to present the reader with clever commentaries on world governance. Whatever it is, I found Jay Chris’ tightly plotted Envenom to be a welcome addition to the growing genre.
Doesn’t it seem that fictional characters with supernatural powers are often born, raised, or come of age in small town America? Is their something in the water in the deep plains of Texas or in the sands by the Mississippi River?
Justin March’s “Quick Save,” a bright and spry tale, has such a character. The protagonist in the novel is navigating the often turbulent waters that comprise the high school existence. Tapping into the angst and verve that encompasses the teenage experience, March richly develops characters who are both at one caustic and endearing.
Craig, now entering his junior year at Buckton High, finds himself friendless but not entirely unhappy. Fortunately, a new student enrolls in Buckton, Craig finds himself befriend by the effortlessly cool Quinton. Quinton, from California and who oozes charm, takes Craig into his inner circle and the two form a special friendship.
The two new friends couldn’t be any more different. Craig is shy and semi-geeky, while the exotic Quinton practically has a personality that oozes off the pages of the book. However, in due time, Craig soon discovers that Quentin’s seemingly unattainable coolness gets even cooler: the boy can predict the future.