Fall in One Day by Craig Terlson

Fall in One DayBlue Moon Publishers, 2017.

Joe Beck’s best friend, Brian, has disappeared with his father in a mysterious incident. Strangely, in Joe’s small town on the Canadian prairies in 1973 the only thing on the news is the Watergate trials in the states. The news says nothing about fifteen-year-old Brian’s disappearance and there’s little evidence that the adults are actually working to find him. Amid this background of untrustworthy adults, Joe’s uncertain what to do. But when he gets a call from his missing friend, Joe becomes determined to uncover the truth and save him.

Before I began reading Fall in One Day I wondered whether teen readers today would be interested in a book set in the 1970s, but I was quickly drawn into the story and I think many teens would be, too. Terlson weaves historical events: Watergate, LSD use, old movies, into themes that will always strike a chord with teenagers as Joe questions the trustworthiness of adults, one’s responsibility toward one’s friends, and the complications of becoming an individual within a larger society. Joe is a sympathetic character whose loyalty and intelligence lead him to investigate and solve the mystery of his friend’s disappearance.

I received an electronic advance reader copy of Fall in One Day from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Game of Fear by Gledé Browne Kabongo

game-of-fear2016

Abbie has a secret, a secret that’s buried so deep that she’s just about forgotten it. She also has a plan. She’s an excellent student at a prestigious private school. According to her plan, next year she’ll be at Princeton, and then she’ll move on to Harvard or Stanford for medical school. She’s working really hard senior year to set her plans in motion. But Abbie didn’t plan on the new and exciting romance that’s sweeping her off her feet. She also didn’t expect to be stalked and blackmailed because of her nearly-forgotten mistake. If she doesn’t find and stop the stalker fast, her new romance, her plan, and everything she’s worked so hard to achieve, will be gone.

This is a suspenseful thriller wrapped up into a boarding school story. Gledé Browne Kabongo has a good sense of teen’s motivations, friendships, and hormone-controlled thrill rides. The plot twists and turns and the stakes are high. Readers who love auspicious wealth, designer name dropping, and high stakes plots will enjoy this story.

I must say that as a feminist, I found this story hard to stomach at times. Abbie Cooper is definitely a strong female character, but the trope of the (mostly) good girl choosing the bad boy because of his astonishingly good looks and his charisma, despite the terrible way he’s treated girls in the past bothers me. Other similar details large and small abound in the story. For example, when the friends come to Thanksgiving dinner, the boys end up in the family room playing video games while the girls help Mom in the kitchen. Many, many clichés also made it into the book, and at times they made me long for fresher word choices.

On the whole, this is a fun, fast paced book with a twisty plot.

I received a copy of Game of Fear courtesy of the author and Kate Tilton’s Book Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

The Jock and the Fat Chick by Nicole Winters

The Jock and the Fat ChickHarper Teen, 2015.

It’s senior year for Kevin Conners and his main goal is getting a full ride hockey scholarship to Michigan State.  He’s slimming down and muscling up with extra trips to the gym and a diet of protein bars and shakes, but when Kevin fails an assignment for PE class because of his poor diet, coach sends him off to make extra credit in Domestic Tech class by learning to cook.

Kevin’s got to do some fancy footwork to be sure his friends don’t learn about his assignment, and he’s practically pirouetting to ensure that they don’t find out about his connection to Claire, the kitchen goddess who has been assigned to help him. Claire’s everything that’s attractive to Kevin she’s curvy and beautiful and smart and a fantastic cook to boot, nothing like the skinny cheerleaders that his best friend Victor is into. Unfortunately, Kevin is sure Victor won’t understand, so he’s got to work extra hard to keep these two parts of his life apart.

The Jock and the Fat Chick takes some normal teen problems and sets them on their ear. Driven by ambition and peer pressure, Kevin is a male athlete making poor eating choices driven by the way his body looks. Claire, on the other hand, is a strong character, a leader to whom others go for advice who is comfortable in her own skin.

I loved everything about this book except the title, but the title is fitting in its way, because this is a story about stereotypes and expectation. It’s about seeing high school stereotypes for what they are and being strong enough to choose a different path. It’s about choosing the life and the love that is right for you, not the one that’s expected by others.

Nicole Winters has written a fun romance that will have you rooting not simply for the success of the relationship, but for the success of the two realistic teens her story presents. One warning: don’t start to read The Jock and the Fat Chick without some snacks laid in because the food descriptions will have you ordering take out for delivery in no time.

I received a copy of The Jock and the Fat Chick from the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 2013.

Once, at the start of her junior year of high school, Elise Dembrowski attempted suicide, The thing about committing suicide is you’ve got to have the right playlist, that is, you do if you’re Elise Dembrowski. Elise’s attempt doesn’t succeed–she didn’t mean for it to–but it does start her on a new path.

When Elise returns to school, she gives up once and for all on school social life and launches herself more firmly into her music and the midnight walks that calm her. When one night she comes across an all night dance party, Elise finally finds a life in which she can be a star rather than a misfit, but she’ll have to sneak around and deceive her parents to keep up her new lifestyle. Will Elise manage to make her new dreams come true?

I loved this book about a high school misfit who finds her passion and ends up to be the coolest kid around. I think the story will resonate with many teens who are trying to navigate the waters of high school social pressures and life as a young adult. This one would make a great addition to personal, classroom, and library collections.

Purchased, Kindle format