Rivals- Daisy Whitney

Review:  I received an advance reader’s copy of Rivals by Daisy Whitney at the NCTE Convention this fall.  This is the sequel to The Mockingbirds and continues to look at the darker side of boarding school.  This book is a little less intense focusing on prescription drug abuse rather than date rape but does not ignore that Alex is still coping with the events that transpired the year before.  This was a great read and was much more of a mystery than The Mockingbirds.

Like its predecessor this is definitely a book written for high school students.  I think it would attract more females than males, but males could get into it as well.  This isn’t a book I’d teach, but I would/will have it in my classroom library.

The Lowdown:

RL: My guess is about 4th grade
Interest Level: High School

Look for this book to hit shelves in early February!!!


The Mockingbirds- Daisy Whitney

The Mockingbirds

Review:  I downloaded The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney to my Kindle in anticipation of reading the ARC of its sequel The Rivals.  I am so glad I did.  The Mockingbirds seemed to combine some of the best aspects of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War and Knowles’ A Separate Peace.  At times it even reminded me of John Green’s Waiting for Alaska.   But this book stands on its own and has its own merit.  From the first paragraph on the first page you are thrown into the life of the main character Alex, a junior girl at an elite boarding school, who has been date raped.

What I enjoyed about this story is how it dealt with the rape in a very realistic way.  You see Alex attempting to discern where the responsibility for the rape lies and how to move on with her life.  With such a serious subject this book could have become very dark and depressing very fast.  But it isn’t.  There are times where it is graphic, the imagery and the language may make you squirm but that is offset with the very regular interactions the teen characters have.  Crushes, school work, clubs and more.  Whitney also does a great job of examining what happens when schools have a history of caring more for their record than for their students and what types of change students can initiate.

This is definitely a book written for high school aged students.  I think it would appeal more to females than males, but males could get a lot out of it as well.  I think that if I were to teach a book about a subject such a date rape I would be more likely to teach Speak due to some of the graphic nature of this book.  I could however, see myself recommending this book to students or having it on a list (along with most of the other titles I mentioned earlier) to read alongside Speak for some sort of comparison project.  The Mockingbirds is also one of those books that I will be recommending to my friends who don’t read YA the way I do.  I believe this is a crossover book that adults can read and learn from as much as teens.

The Lowdown:

RL: 4-5 grade, lexile rating of HL720L (THIS IS ABSOLUTELY NOT A BOOK FOR 4th or 5th GRADERS)
Interest Level: High School (I could see 8th graders reading it but it might get a little heavy for younger teens)

Awards:

  • A Romantic Times Best Book of 2010
  • A Best Book for Young Adults – American Library Association
  • An NPR Best Book of 2010
  • An Association of Booksellers for Children New Voices Pick for 2010
  • Chicago Public Library Best of Best Books for Teens in 2010
  • Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award Honorable Mention
  • An Indie Next List Pick
  • A GoodReads Mover and Shaker for November 2010
  • The Books-A-Million teen book club pick for January 2011

Stay tuned for my upcoming review of The Rivals!

Jellicoe Road- Melina Marchetta


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This Printz winner took me a while to get into. I’d say I was a third, to half of the way into it before I really became intrigued, but then I didn’t put it down.  There are numerous interesting characters whom I loved, but at the same time had some difficulty keeping everything straight.  There is mystery involved in the story- and I reached the end I felt like I needed to go back and re-read because I had to have missed some things along the way.  The main character, Taylor, is finishing up her Junior year and attends a boarding school in rural Australia.  There are two mentions of sexual activity within the book but they are not overly explicit.  There is a bit of violence at times in the novel as well.  I think this book could be used potentially in a classroom.  I would recommend it to teen girls and boys as there are strong characters from each gender.   I think this book is appropriate for high school students.

 

Awards:

ALA Best Book for Young Adults
Michael L. Printz Award
Kirkus Reviews Best Young Adult Book 

 
 

Looking For Alaska- John Green

I really enjoyed this novel.  It takes place at a boarding school, and while it centers around a male protagonist there is also a strong female character.  I can see it being somewhat controversial due to some sex, drinking, and smoking.  I feel that the way the sexual elements are presented could lead to healthy conversations about sexuality and intimacy. This book also deals with grief, friendship, and fitting in.   John Green is relatively new to the field, and I think this novel is a great addition to the genre. I would use this in a whole class setting, but might warn parents/ask permission due to some of the controversial content.

Awards:

2006 Printz award winner

Finalist- 2005 Los Angeles Times Book Prize

ALA 2005 Top 10 Best Book for Young Adults

ALA 2005 Teens’ Top 10 Award

ALA 2005 Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age

A Booklist Editor’s Choice Pick

Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection

Borders Original Voices Selection

YALSA Librarians’ Choice: 100 Super Summer Reads for Teens