Lily Proctor has had enough of the real world. Sure, her hometown of Salem, Massachusetts, might have an interesting history, but she’s tired of her best friend Tristan’s romantic wanderings, her mother’s public outbursts and, most of all, the perpetual fevers and allergic reactions that keep her from having a life. So when an otherworldy voice offers to transport her to a place where she can be powerful and strong, Lily readily agrees.
Southern writer Tony Earley’s excellently written and highly readable Mr. Tall consists of six stories and a short novella. The characters are a mix of country folks and city people, except for the novella, which contains a mix of real people and mythical characters. Mostly, the stories are about how men and women meet and how they live out their lives together.
Zac knows all the statistics about his leukemia—the survival rate, the chance the cancer will return even if his new bone marrow gives him a temporary clean bill of health. But he’s still hopeful he can get back to his old life after months in solitary with only his mother for company—his mother, and the faceless girl fighting her own battle next door.
Jaden is sure that his parents aren’t satisfied with him. And why would they be? They adopted a kid who lights things on fire, hides food in his closet, steals tip money from restaurants, and has to be sent from one therapist to another. In Half a World Away, written by Newbery Award-winner Cynthia Kadohata, Jaden knows that his mother in Romania didn’t want him, and now his parents in America, Penni and Steve, are trying to replace him. That’s right; he’s so disappointing that his adoptive parents are going to adopt another child.
In Hyper: A Personal History of ADHD, author Timothy Denevi writes, “One of my goals, here, has been to examine the mountains of material on ADHD from the point of view of a patient; to retell a narrative that in the past has been the exclusive province of the people prescribing, as opposed to the people receiving, treatment.” After finishing this riveting and monumental book, I’m happy to report that Denevi has achieved his goal.
Five years after retirement due to health, Father Tim Kavanagh is still reeling. What he sees at first as the "yawning indifference" of his church family is hurtful, but time has passed and an exciting trip to Ireland with his wife Cynthia has served to cushion the blow. Still, he finds the idea "to withdraw someplace for the sake of seclusion"—and to stay there—far too inviting.
BookPage Teen Top Pick, September 2014
Set near the San Francisquito Canyon in Los Angeles County, 100 Sideways Miles is the coming-of-age tale of one teen who learns to live with the tragedies and oddities of his life using his own unique type of mathematical coping.
“So, really, what’s a nice girl like me doing working at a ghastly ol’ crematory like Westwind?” Caitlin Doughty asks near the beginning of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, her by turns shockingly gruesome, mordantly funny and, ultimately, richly thought-provoking memoir about working in an Oakland, California, mortuary and crematorium.
The end of the world might seem like an odd time to care about music and art; why worry about Shakespeare when civilization has collapsed? But in Canadian writer Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, it seems perfectly plausible that a Traveling Symphony would cross the wasteland that exists 20 years after most of the world’s population has died from a flu epidemic.
Thirteen-year-old twins Noah and Jude are so close, they “smush,” pushing themselves together, shoulder to shoulder, exactly as they did in utero. Noah is dreamy and artistic, while his sister Jude is fearless and popular. When their mother announces that both twins should attend CSA, a nearby fine arts high school, Noah is elated, but Jude is less than enthusiastic, as she fears that Noah’s talent far outweighs her own. Three years later, Jude is now attending CSA, but Noah was not accepted. The once-fierce love between the twins has morphed into fierce hatred.