Tag Archives: Adolescence

Every Single Second

15 Aug

A few days ago, I was talking with a friend about Michael Phelps’ Olympic awesomeness. She started talking about what a great role model he was. He had messed up, owned his  problems, accepted the consequences, worked to fix his problems and rebuilt his career. What  a fabulous lesson for kids. Few of them will be a Michael Phelps, but even ordinary people need to learn this important lesson.

The characters in Tricia Springstubb’s Every Single Second are very ordinary. Things happen. Decisions are made, or not made, every single second. And some of them have long-lasting consequences. But, at the heart of this story is the lesson that Michael Phelps has demonstrated: you can work hard, accept you faults, accept the consequences and just maybe, you can start rebuilding what you once had.  Not every problem in the book is solved. We are, however,  left with the  knowledge that choosing kindness and forgiveness rather than hate and retaliation, is the better path by far. A thoughtful book for upper elementary & middle school readers.

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Goodreads Summary: A single second. That’s all it takes to turn a world upside down.

Twelve-year-old Nella Sabatini’s life is changing too soon, too fast. Her best friend, Clem, doesn’t seem concerned; she’s busy figuring out the best way to spend the “leap second”—an extra second about to be added to the world’s official clock. The only person who might understand how Nella feels is Angela, but the two of them have gone from being “secret sisters” to not talking at all.

Then Angela’s idolized big brother makes a terrible, fatal mistake, one that tears apart their tight-knit community and plunges his family into a whirlwind of harsh publicity and judgment. In the midst of this controversy, Nella is faced with a series of startling revelations about her parents, friends, and neighborhood. As Angela’s situation becomes dangerous, Nella must choose whether to stand by or stand up. Her heart tries to tell her what to do, but can you always trust your heart? The clock ticks down, and in that extra second, past and present merge—the future will be up to her.

Tricia Springstubb’s extraordinary novel is about the shifting bonds of friendship and the unconditional love of family, the impact of class and racial divides on a neighborhood and a city, and a girl awakening to awareness of a world bigger and more complex than she’d ever imagined.

An infinite capacity for storytelling: Hilary T. Smith

3 Aug

What do you do when your  all planes are grounded and your flight is delayed 2 hours due to thunderstorms and lightning? Read of course.

Fortunately for me, I had planned to read Hilary T. Smith’s new book,  A Sense of the Infinite,  on the plane ride home.

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What a stunningly beautiful book.

Publisher’s Summary: By the author of the critically acclaimed Wild Awake, a beautiful coming-of-age story about deep friendship, the weight of secrets, and the healing power of nature.

It’s senior year of high school, and Annabeth is ready—ready for everything she and her best friend, Noe, have been planning and dreaming. But there are some things Annabeth isn’t prepared for, like the constant presence of Noe’s new boyfriend. Like how her relationship with her mom is wearing and fraying. And like the way the secret she’s been keeping hidden deep inside her for years has started clawing at her insides, making it hard to eat or even breathe.

But most especially, she isn’t prepared to lose Noe.

For years, Noe has anchored Annabeth and set their joint path. Now Noe is drifting in another direction, making new plans and dreams that don’t involve Annabeth. Without Noe’s constant companionship, Annabeth’s world begins to crumble. But as a chain of events pulls Annabeth further and further away from Noe, she finds herself closer and closer to discovering who she’s really meant to be—with her best friend or without.

Hilary T. Smith’s second novel is a gorgeously written meditation on identity, loss, and the bonds of friendship.

While it is not uncommon to see YA books deal with the collapse of a friendship, Smith has written one that does it in a fresh new way. I don’t want to give away too many details, but there are layers of complexity here that you don’t always see. I really enjoyed the way this novel was structured. Some chapters are long and complex. Others are very short and poetic, but pack an emotional or philosophical punch, like meditations on identity, loss, and friendship.

There are a lot of trigger topics in this book –  eating disorders, abortion, rape, suicide, depression- but the book never feels like an issues book. Annabeth is very likable, but she can be frustrating in the way she lets Noe make decisions for both of them. It was encouraging, though sometimes heart-breaking, to see Annabeth gain strength to become more independent. This os quiet, but powerful book.

Here some really exciting news: You can hear Hilary T. Smith speak at Powell’s in Beaverton this Wednesday, August 5th at 7 in the evening . I am planning on being there and I hope you can be too. She will be sharing the evening with two YA debut authors I can’t speak about but I am excited to hear! You can find more details at this link.  I hope to see you there!

 

Randy Ribay

YA author, teacher, nerd

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