Tag Archives: teenage girls

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!

 

Poisoned Apples

17 Nov

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Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty  by Christine Heppermann wasn’t quite what I expected. From the little bit I’d read about it, I was under the impression it was a collection of poems based on fairy tales. Well, there are, but not in the way I expected.

Heppermann begins with the premise that all fairy tales are based on a real story. From that point,  she imagines what stories from today might be turned into fairy tales. Voilà!

This is a fantastic collection of  50 poems about modern teenage girls. The cruelties of fairy tales take on new forms.

From the Publisher: Cruelties come not just from wicked stepmothers, but also from ourselves. There are expectations, pressures, judgment, and criticism. Self-doubt and self-confidence. But there are also friends, and sisters, and a whole hell of a lot of power there for the taking. In fifty poems, Christine Heppermann confronts society head on. Using fairy tale characters and tropes, Poisoned Apples explores how girls are taught to think about themselves, their bodies, and their friends. The poems range from contemporary retellings to first-person accounts set within the original tales, and from deadly funny to deadly serious. Complemented throughout with black-and-white photographs from up-and-coming artists, this is a stunning and sophisticated book to be treasured, shared, and paged through again and again.

These are not easy poems to read, but this might be the best collection of poetry I’ve read this year.

Popularity and Good Manners

8 Sep

Fiona had acupuncture on Saturday. This involves 15 minutes of needle application. It looks like a game of Twister with the vet tech & I humoring Fiona and feeding her treats and the vet reaching around to stick the needles where she wants them. Then, Fiona has to lay still for 20 minutes. And I am right there with her. It is quiet in the room and I can hear the conversations of the vets and techs on the other side of the door. The clinic is small. My vet was telling about her daughter’s first week at middle school. It wasn’t awful, but she hasn’t found her place yet. and belonging is so important.

Before leaving to go to the vet, I started reading Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen.

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It is Maya’s memoir of her eighth grade year in Brownsville Texas, which sounds like a terrible place to live. She was not popular. She came across a 1950’s guide to popularity by Betty Cornell and decided to follow her advice on an attempt to climb the social ladder. This book is the rests of her social experiment.

Witty and heartbreakingly honest, the strength of this book is Maya’s voice. She tells us the good the bad, the ugly and the successful. Each month, Maya tackles a different area that Betty Cornell wrote about:

September: figure

October: hair

December: skin

You get the idea. Throughout the month we see Maya tackle each topic head on and see where she succeeds and where there is still room for growth.

I have recommended this book to my twin sister and I think any female adult who has made it through middle and high school, as well as any girl going through middle and high school, will enjoy this book. You will laugh and shed some tears. The road to popularity s not always pretty.

If you don’t fit into those two categories, you can still get some good advice here

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George Washington’s Rules to Live By: A Good Manners Guide from the Father of Our Country by K. M. Kostyal tackles an older guide: George Washington’s Rules of Civility. Hand-copied when Washington was 16, the Rule lay out maxims for living a good life. Now, K. M. Kostyal has translated the to the modern day and added humorous illustrations that allow kids today to learn about manners and history simultaneously.

Both books make interesting reading.

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