Bethany's Readers' Advisory

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

Winger by Andrew Smith April 24, 2014

WingerRyan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old high school junior at a fancy boarding school in Oregon. This year he’s been transferred to O-Hall, the residence hall for the troublemakers. If his roommate Chas doesn’t kill him, it will be a miracle. Ryan Dean just hopes he can make his smoking hot friend Annie realize he’s not a little boy first. Annie, his friend Joey, and rugby are best things about this year, the year he becomes his own man.

I can’t write a review that does this book justice. It’s that awesome. Sure, it’s filled with swear words and Ryan Dean spends almost all of his time talking about or thinking about sex with every female he sees. But it’s also so funny, endearing, and heart breaking. Read it and love it.

5 out of 5 stars

 

When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris July 10, 2013

Filed under: adult memoir — Bethany @ 5:37 pm
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When You Are EngulfedA collection of witty essays by humor writer David Sedaris. Stories include his time living in France, using LP album covers to scare away birds terrorizing him, his adventure to Tokyo to quite smoking, and his avoidance of the bulkhead in an airplane at any cost, including the wrath of his seatmate.

I tried to read a David Sedaris book several years ago and couldn’t get into it. I discovered the key to my enjoyment of his work is to listen to the audiobook. Sedaris reads his own books, and his voice telling the stories makes all the difference. I laughed out loud so many times during the book. I even rewound the book to listen to parts again. Other people have said this isn’t his best book, but I enjoyed it as my first.

5 out of 5 stars

 

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight June 3, 2013

Reconstructing AmeliaKate is single mother who works long hours as an attorney. Her daughter, 15-year-old Amelia, is a good student and stays out of trouble. One day Kate receives a call at work saying that her daughter has been suspended from school. A bewildered Kate takes the train to the fancy private school but mechanical problems delay her for over an hour. When she arrives at the school, it is surrounded by police cars. When she makes her way through the crowd, she is told that Amelia jumped from the roof and is dead. Kate is filled with guilt and sorrow; if only she’d paid more attention to her daughter, she might have seen this coming. After the funeral, Kate receives an anonymous text: Amelia didn’t jump. With the help of the police, Kate begins to go through her daughter’s phone, emails, and Facebook messages and uncovers even more of a mystery as she searches for the truth of what happened to her daugther.

This was a page-turner. It had everything from mother-daughter relationships to friendship to bullying to the lies parents tell to “protect” their children. I would recommend this to adults and older teens who like a little mystery with their realistic fiction.

5 out of 5 stars

 

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt April 23, 2013

Tell the Wolves Im HomeThe story begins in 1986. Sisters June and Greta are sitting for a portrait their artist uncle, Finn, is painting of them. This is Finn’s final work of art because he is dying of AIDS. Now that she and her sister have drifted apart, fourteen-year-old June feels like Finn is the only person in her life that really understands her. After his death, June finds solace in a surprising acquaintance and realizes she’s not the only one lost without Finn. This is a tender story of love, the confusing emotions that come with being a teenager, and the distance that can come between families.

This was a twist on the all-too-common story of two sisters who grew apart and the emotional roller coaster of being a teenager. It also demonstrates the fear and ignorance about AIDS in the 1980’s. It was full of raw emotion and made me cringe in some parts and tear up in others. I would recommend this to adults looking for a thought-provoking, emotional realistic fiction.

4 out of 5 stars

 

Bossypants by Tina Fey January 25, 2012

Tina Fey started her life in show business at Summer Showtime, an acting camp that did double-duty as a refuge for gay teens.  With a short, less-than-glamorous stint at the front desk of the YMCA, she went on to do an improv show in Chicago.  After a nerve-wracking interview with Lorne Michaels, she became a writer for Saturday Night Live and later created her own comedy show, 30 Rock.  Sprinkled throughout the book are stories of her childhood, memories of her near-death experience on her honeymoon, tips for a successful fashion shoot, opinions of Photoshop, tales of motherhood, and her true feelings about Sarah Palin.

This book was hilarious yet poignant and had a nice balance of truth and sarcastic asides.  I really enjoyed it and found myself laughing out loud more than once.  I would definitely recommend this to any adult, especially those who have seen her on TV.  Her voice really shines throughout the book.

 

Running with Scissors: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs March 25, 2011

A disturbing look at the life of Augusten Burroughs.  After much fighting, his parents divorced, leaving Augusten to live with his mother.  She is obviously mentally ill and seeks help from an unorthodox psychiatrist, Dr. Finch.  Burroughs goes on to describe his inclusion into the Finch household, eventually being adopted by the doctor.  The filthy living conditions, unrestricted children, and the general lifestyle of the Finches is horrifying and, at times, shocking.

I am not easily offended, but reading this book made me feel the need to take a shower.  I alternated between recoiling in horror and laughing.

 

Tale of Two Summers by Brian Sloan November 8, 2010

Friends Chuck and Hal are spending their first summer apart.  Chuck, who is straight, is attending theater camp at the nearby college campus.  Hal, who is gay, is taking driver’s ed in their sleep hometown.  In an attempt to keep in touch, Chuck has created a blog for them to record their experiences.  Hal is dreading a boring summer with nothing to do but is in for a surprise when he (literally) runs into the man of his dreams.  Chuck, meanwhile, is looking to get lucky with the leading lady at camp.  Tales of happiness, love, and heartbreak fill the blog and both end up with much more eventful summers than they had anticipated.    The blog meant to keep them together may prove that they are actually growing apart.

Chuck starts to realize what life after high school could hold and how far he can pursue his dreams.  Hal, on the other hand, realizes his underlying resentment of Chuck’s talents and “normal” urges for the opposite sex but doesn’t really grow from his summer experiences.  Nevertheless, this was an interesting look at romance and dating from a gay male’s perspective.

I liked the flow of the book as a blog; it allows the reader to get to know the characters but not become bogged down in dialogue and plot details.  I found the “dialogue” to be a little unrealistic for teenage boys and some of the language was dated (WURDH!)

 

 
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