Six Feet Over It by Jennifer Longo

Six Feet Over It by Jennifer Longo (2014)

I just finished reading this book.  It took me longer than usual (to read this book.)  I reluctantly give it 4/5 stars.  It really is a well-written view of grief from a teen’s perspective, but it was somewhat difficult to really get into.  I liked that premise that Leigh’s family has moved to a cemetery, and that Leigh’s father has pretty much given her no choice but to work the office.  Her older sister cannot because her cancer is in remission and she is all into running now.  No time (and the cancer thing) for working the cemetery’s office and selling plots and stones.  Their mother seems entirely disconnected from her family because she misses the ocean, and recovering from her older daughter recovering from cancer.   It takes a while to get to the fact that it is Leigh’s best friend who had died in an accident months before.

I found myself frustrated with Leigh.  She is depressed most of the book, which is understandable, but what I don’t understand is why she can’t be friends with a girl she meets after Emily’s death.  She is afraid of replacing Emily, but she is outright mean at times to Elanor.  Leigh also just exists on one special (to her) kind of candy. . .  and loses all sorts of weight.  I feel I am very empathetic, but here’s the deal:  For me, in grief, I eat.  I eat my feelings. I ate like crazy after my first son died (entire large packages of cookies in one sitting kind of eating.)  So trying to understand Leigh’s lack of appetite is admittedly difficult.

I lived for six years as a child next to a cemetery, and I loved it. It was not a scary place at all.

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!

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.  

Apollo’s Outcasts by Allen Steele

Title: Apollo’s Outcasts

Author: Allen Steele
Original Publication Date: 2012
Date I First Read: 2013
Basic Category:  YA/Teen Fiction and Science Fiction

Basic Summary:  Jamie Barlowe has lived on Earth since being born on the moon during the early building of the colony.  His mother was killed.  His father brought him back to Earth, but because he was born in a different state of gravity, his bones don’t support him. Jamie lives in a “moblile”, but feels really free in water . . .  and loves swimming.   His father is involved in some scientific community . . . and all of their lives are in danger when the president dies and there is a coup d’etat.   Jamie, his sister, and several other kids, are sent to the moon colony.   For the first time, Jamie is “normal” and can walk!  He decides to become a Ranger . . . which is very excited about.   

What I Remember About the Book: Jamie loves that he is able to walk while living on the moon.  

What I Took Away From the Book:  I found that I do like some science fiction.  This is quite accessible without being too science-fiction-y!   The families living on the moon, and the descriptions of their homes and how they live, were believable and made me want to read more.  The action was just enough without being too violent (which I appreciated.)  

Rating (1-5 stars):  5 

Janie Face to Face by Caroline B. Cooney

Janie Face to Face by Caroline B. Cooney 
Published 2013
YA/Teen Fiction
This is the fifth (and maybe final) book about Janie Johnson. Overall, it sews things up for Janie/Jennie (because she decides she’s going to be Jennie after all.) I also like getting Hannah’s deranged view of things. Her hatred of librarians is interesting!  

I personally had several problems with this book. First of all, it takes place in the present day. Texting and Facebook play a roll. This is a major problem for me, as I read the first book (‘The Face on the Milk Carton’) when it first came out over 20 years ago! This book should, at least in my mind, be taking place in the mid-1990s. Yes, there could be some online activity and email, but not everything else. In my mind, Janie/Jennie should be in her mid-to-late 30s now. Instead, she was born just about 20 years ago. It just seems weird. Never mind that the face on the milk carton initiative was LONG over by the mid-1990s.
And secondly . . . 

SPOILER (sort of . . . ) 

Secondly, Janie/Jennie is way too young to get married. . . I sound like such a grown-up saying this.) It was really annoying when Janie/Jennie kept saying she was going to college to find a husband because that is the best place to find one. (This is in the first part of the book, so not giving too much away. That is just such an old fashioned thought. I didn’t find mine in college!)

Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Christ Crutcher

Let me just preface this by admitting the following:  I graduated from high school twenty years ago today.  In celebration, I post about a book I first read that year.  In fact, I will post a book by a well-known author who I had a chance to meet a full ten years later!  

Title:  Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes

Authors: Christ Crutcher
Original Publication Date: 1993
Date I First Read: Summer 1993
Basic Category: Fiction / YA/Teen Fiction
Basic Summary:   Eric and Sarah Byrnes were childhood friends because they were both different – Eric was fat and Sarah had burn scars from early childhood.   Sarah is now catatonic, and Eric is trying to help her.  And then there are the school scenes – a Contemporary American Thought class, where different classmates have different views, and Eric ends up being injured.  
What I Remember About the Book: The hypocritical views on abortion among the classmates. The classmate who was always spouting conservative Christian rhetoric in class. . .  and then his girlfriend became pregnant, and he encourage an abortion.  I was stunned by that at the time. I always thought that if you really believed in something, you should stand by those beliefs. This made me start question – more than I had already – what I personally believed.   
What I Took Away From the Book:  I loved this book the first time I read it.  I walked around thinking about it for days.  I have been afraid, honestly, to re-read this book.  What if I feel differently twenty years later?  I have an autographed copy of this book in the paperback edition from 2003.  

Meeting Mr. Crutcher and hearing him talk either in late 2003 or early 2004 was great.  He does put much of his experience as a counselor, etc,  into the books 

Rating (1-5 stars):  5 (At the time.  I am thinking about re-reading it.) 

P is for the Princess Diaries

Title:  The Princess Diaries (Vol 1)                                            
Author: Meg Cabot
Original Publication Date: 2000
Date I First Read: 2000
Basic Category: Teen/YA Fiction / Humor
Basic Summary:  Mia discovers she is a princess, even though she does not really want to be one.  The story is told in various formats (diary, IM, etc.) 
What I Remember About the Book:  I remember when it arrived, brand new, at the library where I worked.  I started reading it in the staff room during my fifteen minute afternoon break.  I didn’t want to put it down.  I remember laughing out loud.  I remember Mia’s mother painting.  Her friends.   Princess lessons!
What I Took Away From the Book:  It would be fun for a while to find out you are a princess. 
Rating (1-5 stars):  5

PS:  I had the opportunity to meet Meg Cabot in 2004, and also heard her give a most energetic presentation.  I had so much fun.  She took a picture with me.  This was before I had a digital camera.  I need to find the print, and scan it once and for all. I also got a couple of  books signed by Ms. Cabot.   I wore a dress to this conference, and felt like kind of a dork.  A couple of week later I wore the same dress to my great-aunt’s funeral.