Anatomy of a Misfit

Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes (2014)

In this YA fiction, Anika Dragomir is the third most popular girl in her high school, and initially, she is solely concerned about keeping her status where it is.  The most popular girl, Becky, is “all-American”, and Anika is half Romanian, so she therefore, she can never be the most popular girl ever in the high school hierarchy.  Not in 1980s Nebraska!   Anika really likes Logan, who has grown up over the summer and now rides a moped to school!  However, then there is Becky, who still acts like a complete “mean girl” toward to Logan (and most of the girls in school).

I give this book three stars out of five. I want to be able give it more, but I had trouble sticking with this book. There is much foreshadowing that something is going to happen, and that there is a big lesson to be learned.  There is so much talk about boyfriends and sex . . . I suppose it is realistic, but in some ways, so different than my own high school experiences about five years or so after this book was set.   On the other hand, I was not “normal.”  I had trouble talking to anyone. at. all back then.

I liked in the beginning of the book all of the references that place the time frame of this work in the mid-1980s or so –  LA Gear shoes, The Cure, Police, etc.  The first names of most of the characters place it in the ’90s:  Becky, Shelli, Jared, and Brad just to name a few.

[Summer Reading Online 2015 – Book 3/30]

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King

  Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A. S. King   (2014)

Glory O’Brien has just graduated from high school, but she has no post-high school plans, except to take photos (her mother was also a photographer.) She is not planning to go to college b.  ecause she feels she has no future. She is still dealing with her mother’s suicide that occurred when Glory was four years old. And then, she eats a bat, and can suddenly see the future and the past when she looks at other people. 

This is an intriguing book that hooked my interest nearly immediately.  I highly recommend it for teens and for adults who like to read YA fiction. 

I wish that I’d gotten the author’s Dust of 100 Dogs and had her sign it back in March 2009 at the first Tucson Festival of Books. I even talked to her,  but had no idea who she was (and that she’d grow in popularity.)  I almost did but was out of cash that day from other purchases!

End Times: The Prophet Emerges by Anna Schumacher

(Published in 2014 by Razorbill) 

This is a YA book I checked out as an e-book because it was available.  I ended up getting more into it than I thought I would. I will read the next book as well, because I need to know what happens.  Even though I want to know what happens next, that does not mean that I connected with the characters.  All of them, even the main character, feel rather undereveloped to me.  There is a distance. Perhaps this is purposefully done by the author. It made me, the reader, frustrated with the characters at times.  The main character is Daphne, who has had a rather rough life recently, but uses her confidence and strength to get an intense job on an oil rig at age 17.  Her teenage cousin is pregnant and expecting a baby with her not-so-great boyfriend.  Things are looking up in their lives. . . until they are not.  

I do recommend this book (series) to those who enjoy end-of-the-world and/or dystopian fiction.

Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj

Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj (2014)

 This book, intended for middle grade readers (main character is 13 years old), is a fun read.  Abby Spencer does not know her father.  Her mother knew him when he came to the United States from India to attend college.  When they’d both graduated, they split up because they always knew that her (Abby ‘s father) would be returning to India in part because his parents were there.  Her mother did not know she was pregnant until later.  She wrote him a handwritten letter, which he never received.   

Now, Abby wants to know who her father is.   And she is shocked to find out that he is the hottest Bollywood star in India!  For Thanksgiving, she heads to India to meet her father and paternal grandmother for the first time.   

This is a fun read with some cultural clash as well as some angst of being a young teen.  Abby finds a boyfriend in India (although he is also from – another part of – Texas.)  I highly recommend this book!

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

Sisterhood Everlasting  by Ann Brashares (published in 2011)

Why didn’t anyone warn me about this book?

I had read the other books years ago now, as they came out.  I saw the movie version of the first book first run in the movie theater.

I was not aware of this book for some reason. Or maybe it blipped onto my radar screen so briefly, I heard was it was about, and decided to forgo reading it. 

I checked it out as an ebook.  I was shocked that I had not seen it previously.  To find out what happened to all the girls ten years later as they are on the cusp of thirty?   Yes, please. 

I finished reading it in less than a day.  I just had to keep going, even though at the same time I wondered why?  Why would the author do something so awful to one of the girls?   Sure, it it realistic that something might happen to one of the girls, andneb I know that.  Still, I just wanted a nice, and maybe fairly bland story about their present lives.

Bland it is not.  I really won’t share too much of what actually does happen in this book (except that it really takes Carmen too long to realize she is not in the right relationship for her . . .)   I would encourage you that if you read at least the original book, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, that you should at least read this one.  It turned out to be a powerful read.  Ms. Brashares crafted it well, unrolling more information just a bit at a time so that the reader needs to just keep reading. I have seen the criticism that the girls remain immature, but that is pat of the point. Most of the girls have remained “stuck” in parts of their lives – mostly emotionally – and this is this story of how they become unstuck and really begin to grow up.

To skip to the end will not tell you anything. 

Best Kept Secret (Family Tree Book 3) by Ann. M. Martin

Best Kept Secret (Family Tree Book 3) by Ann M. Martin

This is the latest installment of the Family Tree series by Ann M. Martin.  I must say that i picked up the first book because I love genealogy and the idea of a “family tree” type of series thrilled me.  However, the first and second books kind of left me cold – not in a Stephen King kind of way – but in the way that some members of this family do not get along.  Another way they left me cold is in the style they are written.  Sometimes they feel like warm family stories and at other times, I feel detached and separated as the reader, as each chapter sometimes skips months or even years from the one before.  This book and the first two leave me with very mixed feelings.  This third one also ended with the main character, who grew up during the 1970s and ends in the 1990s, in a relationship and pregnant just as the first two did.  These books are also trying to explore both mother/daughter relationships and father/daughter relationships, and in many ways are probably fairly realistic of some families.    

I want to see what is going to happen in the fourth installment.  I thought that this third one didn’t quite leave me as “cold.”  It was wrapped up a little better, although Francie’s mother, Dana (the main character of the second book), still has an ongoing battle with her mother Abby (main character of the first book).  I still can’t discern the exact reason. They just don’t quite get along because of decisions they’ve both made.  

In this book, Francie is age seven when the book opens, and it struggling to learn how to read because of dyslexia.  Soon she’s made life-long friends, but over the coming years her immediate family goes through changes.  The next book will feature Francie’s daughter.

I don’t know what age I would actually recommend these books for.  I suppose ages 9 to 13.   I would have probably enjoyed these when I was about eleven years old, to be specific.  I might have been annoyed then, too, that some things are never resolved in this story.

Overall, I gave this one four out of five stars on LibraryThing.  

A Matter of Days

A Matter of Days by Amber Kizer (2013)  YA/Teen Fiction

Nadia and her younger brother Rabbit are alive after their mother die from BluStar, a virus that travels around the world and kills 99% of the population.  Their uncle Bean is a doctor who has been working in a top secret project for the government. He has a vaccine that he gave to Nadia and Rabbit, but their mother refused it.   He has returned to his father’s home across the the country, and when their mother dies, Nadia and Rabbit set out to join their uncle and grandfather in West Virginia.  This is the story of their adventures along the way.

I really enjoyed this book – maybe in part because it is not nearly so “scary” as Stephen King’s The Stand, and maybe in part that it is general not so full of “bad” people and violence as other books of similar nature and content.   Even though there is SOME violence – and some hinted at as well – in the aftermath of this disaster, it is not overwhelming.  Generally most of the characters are good people.  I’d like to think that most people would be nice in the aftermath of such a disaster.