Perfect Escape- Jennifer Brown

Perfect Escape

Finally another review!  My copy of Perfect Escape is an ARC that I received in the fall at the NCTE convention.  I decided to read it on my vacation since it said it was being released in July- wouldn’t you know I just looked and it was released yesterday!  The day I finished the book!  I love it when timing works out like that!

Anyways, onto the review….

Review:  Perfect Escape had me engaged from the beginning to the end.  It is the story of a girl named Kendra and her brother, Grayson.  Grayson has severe OCD and anxiety issues that have affected the entire family.  However, as the story begins we find out that some of Kendra’s problems have nothing to do with him.  The novel centers around the “perfect escape” that Kendra attempts and the relationship between the brother and sister.  There is a bit of mystery involved and a strong desire to find out what will happen next.

From my knowledge of anxiety disorders and OCD which is limited the book seems to do an accurate job of portraying a young (20) male suffering from the disorder.  I think this book really opens your eyes as to what having a mental disorder that is so debilitating might be like, for the individual who is diagnosed, and some of the people closest to them.

Based on the content of this novel I think it would be appropriate for 8th grade through 12th.  There are a few four letter words, but nothing extreme.  Within the story there is some discussion of romantic relationships but there are no explicit scenes.  I don’t think I would use this as a whole class novel but I would definitely put it on my classroom bookshelf and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to students.  It may appeal more to females, but I could see teen males enjoying it as well.

The Lowdown:

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

Click Here for An Educator’s Guide!

Jennifer Brown has two other award winning YA books, Hate List and Bitter End that I’d like to check out now too!
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Push- Sapphire

Push by Sapphire has received a lot of attention after being turned into the award-winning movie “Precious.”  I picked a copy of it up at a bookstore a few months ago and then forgot about it.  I’m glad I read it now though.  I had a feeling I would like the book but was not prepared for the way in which it was written. The novel is written from Precious’ point of view and is written as if she wrote it- and as a girl severely lacking in reading and writing skills this means that there are phonetic spellings, lots of swearing, and also slang.  I did find it easy to follow though and read it rather quickly.

I think this is a great book for English teachers to read because it reminds us of what deficiencies our students may be coming to us with that we might not think of.  i.e. the inability to read or write.  Due to the graphic descriptions of rape, incest, and abuse I would be hesitant to use this in my classroom.  I think it has a message that could be discussed, but having worked with students coming from this type of a background themselves I would be concerned about triggering flashbacks and or re-traumatizing them.  I would however recommend it to students in 11th and 12th grade while explaining to them that there are some rather graphic scenes, and letting them make their own mind up about whether they want to read it or not.

Overall I really enjoyed the book.

Awards:

2010 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults- YALSA

Beauty Shop for Rent-Laura Bowers

  Beauty Shop for Rent is Laura Bowers’ first YA novel.  The story is about a sophomore girl named Abbey who has a dream of becoming a millionaire by the age of 35.  She is trying to not be like her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother who had children at the ages of 16, 17, and 16 respectively.  Living with her great-grandmother for the past several years has caused Abbey to not have much of a relationship with either of her parents.  The book explores her relationships with her parents and her relationships with an extended family in her community.  I really enjoyed this book.  It is light and funny, while dealing with real issues that many teens deal with every day.  I do not think I would assign it as reading in a classroom setting, but I would have no qualms about recommending it to students.  The back of the book says “ages 12 and up” and I would agree.  There is nothing inappropriate in the novel for younger teens and I would say it’s ideal age range is 7th-10th grade.

Slam-Nick Hornby

This is Nick Hornby’s first true Young Adult novel.  The main character, Sam, is a 15 year old skater who becomes a teenage father.  The book follows the events leading up to the pregnency, through the pregnancy, and after the child is born.  In general it is realistic fiction but there are some fantastical moments throughout the story.  Due to Sam’s interest in skating there is a bit of inoformation about Tony Hawk sprinkled throughout the novel.

The book isn’t bad- however I do not see many teenage boys being interested in reading about pregnancy- even if they are teenage dads themselves.  There is a lot of skater jargon and the role of Tony Hawk might attract teens interested in the skating world to the book.  I think the book does a good job at discussing the issues surrounding sexual relationships between teenagers, safe sex, and the way a baby changes things.

This book could be used in a classroom but some might object to the frank discussion of sexuality.  I might suggest it to students that mention interests in any of the topics presented.  It is not a difficult read and feel it is appropriate for students in 9th-12th grade.

I Am the Messenger- Markus Zusak

I Am The Messenger centers around a 19 year old male searching for his identity.  Throughout the novel he speaks candidly about his relationship with his mother, his feelings of sexual inadequacy, and his friendships.  He is mysteriously pushed into action when he begins to receive cryptic messages on playing cards.  The novel chronicles his experience with these cards while keeping their origin a secret.

This is definitely a novel for older teens and young adults searching for meaning in their lives.  I would recommend it to men and women aged 16-22.  I believe it could be used in a classroom, and provides many topics for discussion.  With its male protagonist and some violence, I believe this book appeals to male readers.

Awards:

2006 – Michael L. Printz Honor
2006 – Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book
2005 – Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year – Children
2003 – Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Award in Australia