Winger

Andrew Smith’s young adult novel Winger is a comical, genuine and heartbreaking tale of growing-up at a boarding school.  Ryan Dean is the only 14 year old junior at his private boarding school for rich juvenile delinquents.  Okay, so he stole and hacked into one cell phone. However, he has decided that this year is going to be different.  He is determined to get his friend Annie to look at him as more than a friend.  Of course he will also be the best winger on his rugby team.  But everything changes when he gets into one little fight and he has to move into the dorm for the really troubled teens. Now he is forced to live with someone who may cause him harm in his sleep (although they are teammates and that has to mean something right?)  and he is no longer living with his two best friends.

I loved this book!  Smith creates a great voice for Ryan Dean that is instantly believable and incredibly funny.  He also includes illustrations and charts all from Ryan Dean’s perspective that are fabulous.  There is a great theme of friendship and comradery between teammates in this novel that is so enjoyable.  I love the rugby team.  They may not always like each other, but you never mess with a rugby player unless you want to mess with the rugby team.  This book feels very true to life with humor, heartbreak, and unexpected ups-and-downs.  This is a must-read book.

 

I Was Here

I love Gayle Forman’s books.  She always creates engaging characters that you want to read about.  Her latest book I Was Here is no exception, it was wonderful.  The book is about a girl, Cody, whose best friend, Meg, commits suicide leaving everyone stunned, hurt, and confused.  Cody feels incredibly guilty that she was unable to help her best friend,  or even notice that she was so depressed.  Thus begins her investigation into why her best friend committed suicide which leads to past boyfriends, college friends, and an encrypted laptop.

Forman did such an amazing job with her character development. Cody begins her quest in the thick of her grief and as she continues to try to understand why Meg died she finds that she can finally move forward with her life.  Forman’s books are so true to life and genuine. Her captivating stories pull you forward until suddenly you have reached the end of the book.  If you are looking for a new contemporary young adult fiction author to read her books would be a perfect choice.

 

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

John Green creates such amazing characters and when you add the talents of David Levithan you find yourself falling in love with the book.  Will Grayson, Will Grayson is the story about two different boys living two very different lives who happen to meet in the same windy city and are both named Will Grayson.  On a chance encounter, the two strike up a conversation which leads to friendship, new adventures (at times musical adventures) and a whole new path.

I really like that this story is written by two authors and then told from two different perspectives.  This writing style gave you insight on both of the Wills and the ups and downs of their lives.  The characters are incredibly realistic, it feels like you know them.  I was impressed with how well the authors were able to capture the humor, depression, and the nerdiness of growing up.   I also liked that Green and Levithan continually added plot twists.  I never knew where the story was headed or how it would end.  This is a great YA contemporary novel that has you laughing out loud sometimes,  as well as contemplating the trials and tribulations of being a teen.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han is an excellent read for any contemporary YA (young adult) reader.  Lara Jean has found a great therapeutic exercise for getting over her crushes.  She simply writes them a letter telling them exactly how she feels and once she is finished writing she moves on.  Of course she never mails the letters to the boys until one day all of her letters are mailed out.  Now all of her secret crushes are reading her letters.  To make things even harder, her feelings for her sister’s ex-boyfriend are resurfacing.  HE received a letter making it even worse now that he knows she has/had feelings for him.  So in order to save some dignity, she decides to have a fake relationship with one her former crushes who has now received an old love letter.  Should be easy, right?

This was fantastic and a sweet love story.  You really want everything to work out for Laura Jean.  She is such  likable character.  Her relationship with Peter is entertaining and endearing.   You want them to end up together, but at the same time you’re not sure if it is meant to be.  Han did a great job showing sisters, with all the ups and downs that go along with family.  Han showed how close the girls were after dealing with a traumatic death. She also made the relationship realistic by showing how easy it is to hurt the ones you love and then finding forgiveness.  If you are searching for a new vacation read or just something to get lost in, this would be a great choice.

Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend

Katie Finn’s novel Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend is a great contemporary YA read.  Gemma’s summer isn’t starting out like she had planned.  Instead of saving the world, she is picking up the pieces of her broken heart and heading to the Hamptons to spend the summer with her dad.  Realizing that she is mourning the end of her romantic relationship with Teddy for a strict one year period (since that is what the magazines have determined to be the proper amount of time) she plans to stay close to the house and keep her head down.  That is until she meets Josh who is sweet, funny, and somehow makes her think less about Teddy.  Of course the kicker is, she already knows Josh and his sister Hallie from when she was younger and things did not end pleasantly between her and Hallie.  Determine to fix things from the past, Gemma finds her summer turning into a Shakespeare play with all of the mistaken identities.

Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend is the perfect summer read.   Finn creates a fun atmosphere with beach parties, babysitting and new love.  It was great to just get lost in this world.  It was fun to see how hard Gemma worked to try and hide her true identity from Hallie and Josh.  She has such good intentions, but you just have this feeling that everything is going to crash down around her.   Although that didn’t stop you from hoping that it would all work out.  Another thing that I liked about this book was that all of the characters are charming and likable.  They just end up in crazy situations.  Without giving anything away, the end twists are awesome!  I really didn’t see some of it coming and was left shocked and so excited to read book two (Revenge, Ice Cream and Other Things Best Served Cold currently planned for May 2015).

Just One Year

Just One Year is Willem’s perspective of the story that was told in  Just One Day , which was so needed!  We yearned for over a year to hear his side of the story because we needed to know that he felt the same magical connection that Allyson felt for him.  His year was just as heart-wrenching and hopeful as Allyson’s.  He found himself traveling the world searching for his mystery girl, but instead found a way to find peace with his past.  Much like Allyson, they both needed this year to discover who they are, who they want to be, and how to come to terms with their families.

Forman writes amazing love stories.  You are instantly drawn into the story and the characters’ emotion filled lives.   She captures all of the ups and downs of first love beautifully with her eloquent writing.  I have enjoyed all of her novels and am looking forward to her next adventure.

Speak

Laurie Halse Anderson’s novel Speak is a compelling and memorable YA fiction novel.  I have to confess that even though I had heard incredible reviews about this novel I was reluctant to read it.  I knew the subject matter was going to be intense, but I had no idea how well written and insightful the story was going to be.  Melinda’s freshman year is not turning out exactly how she thought it would.  Everyone is talking and laughing about her behind her back, especially her ex-bestfriend, all because she called the cops to break-up the end of summer party.  However, no one knows the truth about why she called the cops, and once they find out everything is going to drastically change.

The characters are fantastic. They are all well developed and I  liked the sarcasm and wit of Melinda’s voice.  Halse Anderson’s writing style is captivating and I enjoy the way she told the entire story through Melinda’s voice.  She still shows you how everyone is dealing with the events of the infamous night, but it is all Melinda’s opinions on how everyone is reacting.  I think this made a delicate subject approachable for people to read.  This is a great book to start a hard conversation with people and an excellent read.