Bethany's Readers' Advisory

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

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes April 27, 2014

Me Before YouLouisa Clark is perfectly content with her small town life and her job working at the Buttered Bun cafe. When the restaurant closes, she is in trouble and has to find a new job quickly. She sees an ad to be a companion for a quadriplegic man, applies, and, despite a rocky interview, is hired. The first day is a disaster. Will, the man she is meant to care for, is young, good looking, and a complete jerk. She spends the first weeks on the verge of quitting, avoiding spending time with him at all costs. Before the accident, he had it all; Will traveled the world, was charismatic and a ladies’ man. Now he couldn’t do anything for himself and he is angry. Slowly, Lou and Will accept each other. When Lou discovers her true purpose for being hired is to change Will’s mind about wanting to go through with assisted suicide, she is determined to change his life into something worth living. What she doesn’t expect is that he’ll change hers, too.

This was such a fantastic book! It was recommended to me by several trusted sources and I finally broke down and read it. It is an untraditional love story that is tender, endearing, and heartbreaking. I was thinking of the characters long after the story ended and pondering how love can be found in unexpected places.

5 out of 5 stars

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After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick May 1, 2013

0-439-83706-5Jeffrey survived leukemia when he was a kid, but that doesn’t mean he’s stopped worrying about it. Now that he’s in 8th grade, he has other things to worry about, too. The limp and the foggy memory are a result of the cancer treatments, alongside the normal teenage boy worries like girls, tests, school. On top of all that, Jeffrey’s older brother Steven, the one who got him through all the hard times, is on a long trip to Africa to “find himself” and not there to talk to like he used to be. Jeffrey still has his parents, as embarrassing as they may be, his best friend Tad, and the cute new girl at school who has been paying him a lot of attention lately. With everything going on, Jeffrey’s trying to enjoy each day and live life to its fullest… just in case.

I read Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie a few years ago and really liked it. This is the sequel and takes place several years later; Steven is college-age and Jeffrey is in 8th grade. It’s a heartwarming story but not sappy. The boys are typical middle schoolers, making “your mom” jokes and teasing each other about girls. Be prepared for a bittersweet ending.

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

 

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein February 21, 2013

Code Name Verity“I AM A COWARD.” It is the height of World War II when “Verity” is captured by the Gestapo. Her task is to confess her mission in writing or be brutally executed.  She wants to get everything down before her inevitable death. She is given two weeks. On a variety of paper (blank recipe cards, sheet music, etc.), Verity writes the story of how she met pilot Maddie and how she arrived in France. This was a thought-provoking story of friendship, loyalty, and sacrifice.

Code Name Verity was an excellent book but a hard one to read. I can’t even imagine doing some of the things these young women had to do during wartime.  This is an interesting historical fiction I would recommend to older teens and adults.

4 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.

 

 

 

 

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green March 31, 2012

Hazel’s lungs suck at being lungs.  Even though a miracle drug has kept her alive for the past few years, she knows a long life is not going to happen for her.  Then a welcome distraction comes into the cancer support group her parents maker her attend.  Enter Augustus Waters, a good-looking guy with a prosthetic leg and a crooked smile.  Hazel and Augustus have an instant connection.  But the perks for Cancer Kids don’t last forever.

Be prepared- this is a tear jerker.  It’s an excellent book, as we’ve come to expect from author John Green.  Intelligent, witty characters with a sense of humor and, of course, a road trip.  Just don’t expect a happy ending.

 

TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY by Jay Asher November 16, 2010

One brown paper wrapped shoebox comes in the mail.  Seven cassette tapes wrapped in bubble wrap inside.  Thirteen numbers painted on the tapes.  Eleven words into the first tape turn Clay Jensen’s world upside down.

Hannah Baker killed herself, but not before recording the thirteen reasons that drove her to her decision.  The tapes are sent, one by one, to the thirteen people that affected her in her final months.  Follow Clay as he listens to Hannah’s final words and learns about the horrifying thirteen reasons why she is gone.

This was a powerful story about how one’s actions and inaction can profoundly affect the lives of others.  Hannah’s voice is sometimes intensely sad, other times chillingly calm.  Her spoken words are in italics and Clay’s thoughts are in regular type, allowing the reader to differentiate between the two.  The epistolary format gives the reader an intimate look at the characters’ thoughts, hopes, and fears.

 

 
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