Bibliographic information: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Sherman Alexie. Margaret K. Recorded Books Inc., 2008. $46.99. 5hrs. ISBN-13: 978-1428182974.
Summary: Arnold Spirit lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation. His family has been a part of the reservation for as long as he can remember. Nobody ever left the reservation. After a close family friend dies from getting shot by a friend when they had too many drinks, Indians liked to drink a lot, Arnold is confronted by one of his teachers. He is told to leave, to get out and find something better for his life. Nobody leaves the reservation, but after some prodding Arnold finally decides to leave.
Reading level and interest level: RL: age 12 and up IL: grade 7 and up
Review: This book is packed full of wit and humor. Alexie is able to take situations that would otherwise make somebody break out in tears and turn them into a humorous affair. The script is well written and is well performed, by the author himself. The characters show good development throughout the story. We get to see Arnold grow and come out of his shell to expand his world beyond the reservation. Alexie covers all the common issues a growing teen goes through and puts them out there in all their glory and truth. He doesn’t hold back or make excuses, just tell it like it is. This is a wonderful book for all readers.
Readers’ annotation: Nobody leaves the reservation. Nobody that is until Arnold Spirit does. Now he has to face the world outside of the res.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: Teens will be able to relate to Arnold’s character. He is just like any other teen. He has to deal with growing up, not knowing why his body reacts the way it does, start at a new school and not know what the other students will think, he has to deal with their judgements and makes judgements of his own. All of these things are common among teens and therefore, teens that read this book will be able to relate and gain different perspectives out of the material.
Issues present: This book portrays alcohol use like it is no big deal. A lot of characters died from the use of too much alcohol. Also, it has some racist slurs that people might object to. The important thing to remember is that the use of alcohol casually is not uncommon among teens and reading about it will not encourage them to drink more, they will just feel like they can relate to the characters in the book. And the racism in the book will elicit discussions among teens about the rights among races and the wrong with racism.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Arnold Spirit’s character.
Being an Indian is not what everybody things it to be…
Genre or subject: Realistic fiction: coming of age, death and heartache, love
Readalikes: Revealing Eden, American Born Chinese, Other Sherman Alexie novels
Author’s website: http://www.fallsapart.com/
Awards: National Book Award for Young People’s Literature (2007), School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (2007), American Indian Library Association Award, South Carolina Book Award Nominee for Young Adult Book Award (2010), Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award Nominee (2008) Florida Teens Read Nominee (2009), American Indian Youth Literature Award for Best Young Adult Book (2008), Horn Book Fanfare (2007), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2008), Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Fiction and Poetry (2008), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2011), James Cook Book Award Nominee (2009)
Reviews: School Library Journal: http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6476720.html; Boolist: http://www.booklistonline.com/The-Absolutely-True-Diary-of-a-Part-Time-Indian-/pid=2629624
Why I chose it: I have had many people tell me how great this book is on audio book so I thought I would give it a try, and it added a great racism book to my collection.
Bibliographic information: Go Ask Alice. Anonymous. Prentice-Hall, 1971. $17.99. 192p. ISBN-13: 9780671664589.
Summary: A fifteen year old girl keeps a diary of everything she is feeling and what she does with her day. She starts out by telling us about all sorts of issues, such as crushes, weight loss, sexuality, social acceptance, and her difficulty relating to her parents. She wants to make her parents happy more than anything and they don’t think she gets out enough with friends, she is always cooped up in her room. When her father accepts a new job in a new city they move, and the girl feels like even more of an outcast, without any friends. She eventually finds a friend, Beth, and they become best friends. Beth leaves for summer camp, so the girl goes to stay with her grandparents in her old town and reunites with an old schoolmate, Jill, who finds it cool that the girl is living in a big city. Jill invites her to a party and the girl accepts because it’s nice to be accepted. At the party the girl is given a drink, that is unknowingly laced with LSD, and ends up having an intense drug trip that she finds pleasurable. And this is the start of an up and down roller coaster of drug addiction for the girl.
Reading level and interest level: RL: 12 and up IL: grade 9 and up
Review: Supposedly based on an actual diary written by a fifteen year old girl struggling with drug addiction, this book should be a Lifetime special. This book is highly controversial and has been since it first came out in 1971. The name of the girl was never given in the book, we just get to see life through her eyes and how hard it was for her to fit in to society. She wants to be perfect for her parents, but can’t seem to get it right. After she tried the drugs once, she couldn’t seem to stop no matter how many times she decided she was going to. She was constantly being pulled back into the drug world by a craving she couldn’t overcome. Also, she appeared to be under a lot of pressure and the drugs helped her feel light and carefree. But she always suffered the consequences, until it was finally too much. The girl comes off as very realistic and believable. It is hard not to feel a little sorry for her. Although, this is a great book against drug use and the details of the writer are amazing, especially for a fifteen year old, which makes you wonder about the author. Something every teen should read.
Readers’ annotation: She never experienced a drug trip before, but now she can’t get enough of it. How could something so bad for you, be so powerful?
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: The girl is struggling under the pressure to be the perfect daughter and student, but she can’t handle the pressure and is sucked into the world of drugs and it creates the downfall for her. Teens will be able to relate to the girls troubles and her struggles and they will be able to understand that drugs are not the answer and they should choose a different path. If they are feeling pressured and can’t hold the weight, they should talk to somebody about their troubles rather than despair under the weight of it all.
Issues present: Contains heavy drug use, some alcohol, smoking, sex, and vulgar language as well. Some parents or teachers might be against these issues and not want their teen to read this book. However, we see the bad side of these substances and are shown what will happen if you were to become addicted to drugs. Teens will be able to learn from this book and understand that drugs are not to be used.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce the girl’s character.
Compare the girl before and after the drugs.
The first time she tried them she was hooked.
Genre or subject: Realistic Fiction: drug abuse
Readalikes: Ellen Hopkins books, Jay’s Journal, Beauty Queen, My Name is Cloe, A Not-so-simple Life
Author’s website: Anonymous author, that was supposedly a fifteen year old girl who kept a diary of her adventures into the world of drugs. Beatrice Sparks is reported to be the author/editor, but this is not marked in the book anywhere so I can’t be sure whether it is true or not. Sparks apparently is the author/editor of several books like Go Ask Alice, such as Jay’s Journal, Treacherous Love: The Diary of an Anonymous Teenager, Almost Lost: The True Story of an Anonymous Teenager’s Life on the Streets, Annie’s Baby: The Diary of Anonymous, a Pregnant Teenager and It Happened to Nancy: By an Anonymous Teenager. and is given credit for this one as well. I could not find an official webpage for her.
Awards: Winner of YALSA 100 Best Books Awards 1950-2000 (2002)
Reviews: Commonsense media: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/book-reviews/go-ask-alice; Teen Ink: http://teenink.com/reviews/book_reviews/article/56564/Go-Ask-Alice-by-Anonymous/
Why I chose it: I have always been interested in Go Ask Alice because I had heard so many mixed reviews on it from friends and co-workers. So I took the opportunity to read it for this blog.
Bibliographic information: Looking for Alaska. John Green. Dutton Juvenile, 2005. $18.99. 160p. ISBN-13: 978-0525475064.
Summary: Miles, nicknamed Pudge, at the age of 16 has not friends and lead a very boring life, so he has decided that he wants to seek the “Great Perhaps” and signs up for boarding school. He soon meets his roommate Chip, known as the Colonel, and Chip’s friend Alaska Young, who is described as the most beautiful girl around. As a traditional welcoming prank, Pudge is thrown into the lake, but first he is duct taped, which is not customary. This leads Chip into believe there is more behind the prank than there should have been.
Reading level and interest level: RL: grade 9 and up IL: 14 and up
Review: Wrote as a first person narrative by our protagonist Miles “Pudge” Halter. Green does a great job on creating a plot and characters that catch your attention and make it hard to put the book down. Readers will be able to relate to Green’s characters and their situations that speak truths to the young adult nature. I instantly found myself relating to Pudge’s character because he is funny, sarcastic and exudes an “I don’t really care” type of personality that I think is relative to many teens. Riddled with alcohol and cigarette use, this is a heartbreaking tale of love and loss that will stick with the reader well after they put it down. I recommend it to people who are struggling to understand their lives and the people around them.
Readers’ annotation: Miles is looking for the “Great Perhaps,” so he signs up for boarding school and meets, Alaska, a girl who changes his life.
Bibliotherapeutic usefulness: First, this book would be helpful to young adults who are struggling with self identities and are trying to make something of themselves. Green does a great job with describing Mile’s struggles to grow into something more than what he is. Second, this book could be a good source for somebody struggling with the death of their friend a how to cope with such a tragedy.
Issues present: This book has smoking, alcohol use, and explicit sex scenes that could offend somebody else and they may object to it. However, these are common occurrences among young adults and people need to understand that just because a young adult may read about book with such content does not mean that they are going to pick up on the habits. And more than likely they have already had to deal with these issue in their daily lives.
Booktalk ideas: Introduce Pudge, Colonel, and Alaska.
Pg 4. Starting with “That’s cool.” to the end of that paragraph – sums up Miles character well.
Genre or subject: Realistic fiction: love relationship, Bildungsromans
Readalikes: Other John Green books, Paper Town, Perks of Being a Wallflower, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, 13 Reasons Why.
Author’s website: http://johngreenbooks.com/; sparksflyup.com
Awards and lists: School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (2005), Booklist Editors’ Choice (2005), NYPL Best Book for the Teen Age, An ALA/YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers (2006), Los Angeles Times Book Prize (2005) Printz Award (2006), ALA Teens’ Top Ten (2005), Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award Nominee (2006), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (2006), The Inky Awards for Silver Inky (2007), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2009)
Links to reviews: School Library Journal: http://bookverdict.com/details.xqy?uri=Product-35885691.xml
Why I chose it: I wanted the chance to read John Green’s first novel. I always expect more from his novels than I actually get.
Filed under Death, self-harm