Bethany's Readers' Advisory

The place to go for readers' advisory on books for children, teens, and adults

Matched by Ally Condie August 23, 2012

In the Society, Officials decide what you eat, where you work, when you die, even who you will marry.  Now that Cassia is seventeen, she goes to her Match ceremony to find that her Match is her best friend, Xander.  Things could not be more perfect.  But when Cassia opens her microcard next day, it is not Xander’s face that appears.  She is assured by an Official is that it is a mistake, that her Match really is Xander.  From that day on, however, she cannot stop thinking about the other boy’s face that showed up on the screen.  The result is a dangerous amount of thinking about Ky, the boy who could never be her Match.  Cassia must decide if the Society really knows what’s best… or if she’s better off deciding for herself.
Yes, it’s another utopian/dystopian teen novel.  But I liked it!  I’ll admit, I haven’t read The Giver, so I can’t compare the two books.  (It’s at home, and I promise I’ll read it soon.) Although there were many negative reviews for this book on Goodreads and Amazon, it’s a 2013-2014 Golden Sower nominee and appeared on NPR’s 100 Best Ever Teen Novels readers’ poll located here http://www.npr.org/2012/08/07/157795366/your-favorites-100-best-ever-teen-novels.  It is a quick read, it has lots of teen appeal, and I liked it enough to check out the sequel, Crossed as soon as I got to work today.

5 out of 5 stars

 

The Submission by Amy Waldman

A jury gathers to choose the winning submission.  The contest was to design a memorial to the victims of 9/11.  Once they have chosen, they open the envelope to discover the winner is an American Muslim.  Not surprisingly, this revelation is quite unpopular.  Widow Claire Burwell, on the committee to represent the families, feels trapped between her love of the design and the pressure from the families to keep a Muslim away from their memorial.  Architect Mohammed Khan, creator of the winning design, is a young, talented, and somewhat arrogant man born in America.  He is not religious but finds himself fighting for what is fair, what is right in the aftermath of choices that other have made.

The Submission was one of the finalists for the 2012 One Book, One Lincoln program.  Out of the three, it was the best to stimulate discussion and best fulfilled the purpose of the program.  It was well-written, but I found myself frustrated as I neared the end, not caring about any of the characters at that point.  Just pick it or don’t pick it!  The most interesting and complex character was illegal immigrant from Bangladesh, Asma Anwar, who lost her husband in the attacks, but her story was not enough to rescue the book for me.

2 out of 5 stars

 

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver August 18, 2012

The story begins in 1959 with the Price family on a plane, dressed in all of the clothes they own, with various household necessities in their pockets.  When they arrive in the Belgian Congo for their mission, they realize that they were woefully unprepared for the life that awaited them.  The family adjusts to beds surrounded by mosquito nets, weekly quinine pills, poisonous snakes in the doorway, and boiling every drop of water before they can use it.  Reverend Price becomes more and more engulfed in his mission to bring Jesus Christ to the village, growing more frustrated and extreme with each passing day.  His four daughters figure out what he refuses to see- the people do things differently in the Congo because that’s what it takes to survive.  The story is told from the mother’s and each girl’s point of view in alternating chapters.  The political, spiritual, and familial unrest changes each family member’s life forever.

I have mixed feelings about this book.  On one hand, it was amazing to read about life in the Congo and how it changed everyone in the Price family in such a profound way.  On the other hand, reading it was an arduous task.  I started and stopped reading it several times; it was very long and the last quarter of the book dragged on.  Kingsolver definitely has strong feelings about  the political upheaval that took place in that region; presumably, her opinions were woven into character Leah’s story.  It also caused me to ruminate on my feelings about religion and Christian missions.  Overall, I’m glad I read the book.  The Price family has haunted me since I finished and will continue to do so for some time to come.

 

 

 

 

Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce August 15, 2012

Shortly before her 16th birthday, Tara Martin fights with her boyfriend, Richie.  She wants to be alone, so she takes a walk in the woods.  She was never seen again.  Twenty years later, on Christmas Day, Tara’s parents hear a knock at the door.  It is Tara.  She is dirty and disheveled but appears not to have aged at all.  When she tries to explain to her brother, Peter, the truth about where she has been, he doesn’t believe her.  No one does.  Will things ever be the same between Tara and the people she left behind?

This book was fantasy mixed with realistic fiction, fairy tale .  You will find yourself imagining yourself in each character’s place.  Would you believe the unbelievable?

5 out of 5 stars

 

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn August 1, 2012

Boy meets girl.  Boy marries girl.  Girl disappears.  Boy is in trouble.

Amy is the daughter of authors; they began writing the Amazing Amy series featuring their daughter as the main character when she was just a child.  As a result, Amy is a perfectionist and has money and many admirers.  Nick is a ladies’ man.  He likes Amy’s “Cool Girl” attitude.

Fast forward a few years.  Amy’s money is almost gone and both of them have lost their jobs in the magazine industry.  Nick gets a call that his mother is sick and decides to move them from New York City to his small hometown in Missouri.  On the day of their fifth wedding anniversary, Nick comes home to find the house trashed and his wife missing.  He goes to the police, but who is always the first suspect when the wife disappears?…

This book was intense and thrilling.  I couldn’t put it down.  It has adult language and adult situations, so I would recommend it only to adults who are okay with those things.  Be prepared to wake up in a sweat in the middle of the night and make sure your bedroom door is locked.

5 out of 5 stars

 

 
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