Categotry Archives: Contemporary

The Same Sky

The Same Sky Book Cover The Same Sky
Amanda Eyre Ward
Fiction
Ballantine Books
2015-01-20
288

A childless woman looking to adopt crosses paths with a 13-year-old Honduran girl who has embarked on a dangerous journey into Texas with her brother. By the author of How to Be Lost.

 

Review:

“The Same Sky” is an intense book told in the stark voices of two narrators, a girl from Honduras named Carla, and a woman from America named Alice.  The two stories combine to make a haunting novel that will, hopefully, forever remain in the mind of the reader.

Alice, while she can be somewhat of annoying character, is a good representation of middle-class America.  Her family has its own struggles and deal with the inability to have children.  She and her husband run a small family business and live comfortably within their own bubble until the poverty that surrounds them becomes a part of their lives.  I liked this subplot of the book, as it was a good example of the fact that poverty exists, quite literally, in our own backyards.

The story of Carla is eye-opening and disturbing.  Her life in her village is vividly described, illustrating some of the many reasons people of all ages choose to risk the journey to the United States.  I had no idea the trip is as difficult as it is, and I may have nightmares about it for quite some time.

I highly recommend “The Same Sky”.  It brings a deep understanding to the struggles of others who share our world, and it sheds light on the reasons many illegal immigrant children are arriving at our borders alone.  It is my hope that we can all come together to help others in need with this book in the backs of our minds.  I know it will remain in mine.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

Content Warning:

While I do not typically write content warnings for adult books, please be aware that there is rape, child, and drug abuse in this book.

Vivian Apple at the End of the World

Vivian Apple at the End of the World Book Cover Vivian Apple at the End of the World
Vivian Apple, Book 1
Katie Coyle
HMH Books for Young Readers
January 6, 2015
Hardcover
272

Seventeen-year-old Vivian Apple never believed in the evangelical Church of America, unlike her recently devout parents. But when Vivian returns home the night after the supposed "Rapture," all that’s left of her parents are two holes in the roof. Suddenly, she doesn't know who or what to believe. With her best friend Harp and a mysterious ally, Peter, Vivian embarks on a desperate cross-country roadtrip through a paranoid and panic-stricken America to find answers. Because at the end of the world, Vivan Apple isn't looking for a savior. She's looking for the truth.

 

Review:

The summary for “Vivian Apple at the End of the World”, while intriguing, sells the book far short.  So much more occurs within different contexts during the course of the book.  It is a contemporary romance, mystery, dystopia, and horror story all mixed into one good book.

The subject matter can be controversial, as organized religion is not exactly lauded, but I believe readers should look at it as satire.  It brings up very important questions that are important that we all ask ourselves in a way that is very palatable for teenaged readers.  What do we believe?  What is important to us?  Should we follow the crowd or go against the pressure of society?  Is everything we are taught true?

The plot flows quickly, but not too quickly, and is anything but predictable.  The characters are well-developed and there is a tongue-in-cheek humor that left me laughing out loud several times.  Not to be ignored is the romance between Vivian and Peter.  It is refreshingly devoid of “instalove” and develops in a way which is believable under the circumstances.  That is always something worth noting in a young adult book.

I recommend it for teenagers and adults who enjoy a good satire that makes them think closely about religion and society, though it may be offensive to those with certain religious beliefs.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Content Warning:

Language, Sexual Situations, Underage Drinking and Drug Use, Violence.

The Here and Now

The Here and Now Book Cover The Here and Now
Ann Brashares
Juvenile Fiction
Delacorte Press
2014
242

Seventeen-year-old Prenna, an immigrant who moved to New York when she was twelve, came from another time and she and the other travelers must follow strict rules to avoid destroying the new life they have worked so hard to get, as well as the one personPrenna is desperate to protect.

 

Review:

I don’t know whether I had high expectations because I loved “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” so much, or whether it was the book itself, but I found “The Here and Now” to be underwhelming.

The premise is original, and there is no real fault in the storytelling, but it seems like it would have been more suited to a short story.  There was quite a bit of filler in regard to the plot and the romance felt sudden, jarring, and forced.  The only character that seemed to be fully developed was the protagonist.

All of those being said, while there are sexual situations, it is a very easy and quick read that can easily appeal to younger middle readers.  In spite of there being plot filler, it does flow well, and it is technically well-written.

I would recommend it for the younger set, but not for older young adults or adults.

This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

Content Warning:

Mild Language, Brief Sexual Situations, Violence

Since You’ve Been Gone

Since You've Been Gone Book Cover Since You've Been Gone
Mary Jennifer Payne
Juvenile Fiction
Dundurn PressLtd
2015-01-24
224

On the run from her abusive father, fifteen-year-old Edie Fraser and her mother flee to London, England for a fresh start. But one day, Edie's mom doesn't come home from work. Afraid to phone the police and risk being returned to her father, Edie begins a desperate search for her mother, and finds an unlikely ally along the way.

 

Review:

“Since You’ve Been Gone” was a very difficult book to rate.  It tackles some very difficult subjects, including domestic violence and racism.  To be honest, I had no idea how rampant racism was in Great Britain until reading this novel, and the valuable education alone raised it from two stars to three.  I’d like to thank the author,  Mary Jennifer Payne, for making me more aware.

The problem with the book was not the plot but the pacing.  It all seemed very rushed from one event to the next in a way that did not allow the reader to gain much understanding of each situation.  It would have been much better had there been more details offered, even though it would have significantly increased the length.  A story about such heavy topics deserves to be fully explored.

There were also a large amount of secondary characters that were completely unnecessary.  They presented conflicts that had no resolution in some cases, and in others they just served to muddle the story.  One character in particular did nothing for me but make me have an intense dislike of Edie, the protagonist.

It was not terrible, and I can neither recommend nor say it is to be avoided.

This book is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

Content Warning:

Language, Brief Sexual Situations, Violence, Domestic Violence