Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Symptoms of being Human by Jeff Garvin

The fact that this novel explores gender identity differences in teens should not stop folks from reading.  Of course it is especially good for  GLBTQ kids searching for their place to fit in.  It is filled with universal truths that any kid who has had the experience of not fitting in, of being different in any way.  As this story starts Riley has already attempted suicide and failed.  Riley begins an on-line blog at the encouragement of a supportive counselor.  It rapidly gains a following including one gender identity different teen who is beaten by parents for coming out.  Riley also has an on-line stalker who goes to the same school but who cannot be identified.  All this going on results in anxiety attacks and depression and near giving up for Riley.  It is made worse by the fact that Riley has not come out to the parents, one of whom is a prominent political figure.  When the stalker leaks facts of the blog and of Riley's gender difference to the press, everything comes to a head.  Couldn't put this one down.  Highly recommended.  jdw 2/16

Out of the Dark by Ashley Hope Perez

This is historical fiction based in the late 1930's in the oil fields of south Texas where there is a mix of black, white, Hispanic populations.  Folks lived fairly well no matter what race  since oil was plentiful and free gas could be had to use in all households.  Still there were separate schools for blacks and whites.  Whites had everything newer, more plentiful.  An Hispanic girl from a different part of Texas stuck out both in the white and the black community.  So Naomi came to New London, oil town, with her younger mixed race half siblings when their father came for them and took them from their mother's parents, their abuelitos.  Henry's pastor said it was the right thing to do.  Almost right away beautiful, resourceful, intelligent Naomi formed a friendship with the son of the principal of the black school.  He also was attractive, intelligent and resourceful.  There were constant racial tensions, who could shop at what store at what time, what was Naomi doing in the whites only school and so on.  Wash's and Naomi's friendship progressed, became more than friendship.  When Henry started making advances at Naomi, wanted to marry her things got especially tense and the pair made plans to escape taking the kids with.  Then there was a horrific explosion at the whites school.  Many were injured, many were killed.  The oil rig workers, the black community including Wash all did the best they could to save lives, to find the missing.  Afterward there were rumors about who was at fault for the explosion and ultimately deaths of so many white children.  Someone had to pay and ultimately whites set out to make the black community and in particular Wash and his family take the blame.  The family tried to escape.  They were nearly lynched.  Terrible, terrible racially motivated stuff happened to Wash, Naomi and Washes family.  Beto under his white name Robbie was the lone survivor.  A riveting story based on the New London Texas school disaster of March 1937.  Very hard to read and very hard to put down.   JDW 2/16

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Complicit by Kuehn

Crazy Cate Henry is out of jail after serving time for burning down a barn that killed several horses and severely injuring a classmate.  She is trying to contact her brother and tell him the truth of what happened. Jamie is avoinding her, convinced she is a seriously crazy dangerous person.  He is in therapy for a variety of anxiety related problems.  He and his sister were adopted after his mother died, horribly.  There is something that he should know but doesn't. Is his sister really the manipulative witch folks say she is or is she protecting him.  All the while his sister is seeking him and he is avoiding, he is carrying on a relationship with a classmate named Jenny and it is going well, but what if she does something to upset Jamie - what will happen then?  All one can do is read this twisted story and find out all the truth within.  It is a fairly riviting read once one gets caught up in it.
It is a look at mental illness from a different angle than I have seen before.  Recommended
jdw 2/13/16