Posts Tagged ‘Wintergirls Laurie Halse Anderson’

read a book_nWinter is the best time to catch up on some reading with a nice hot cuppa, especially if it is frosty outside and I am warm inside wearing a nice pair of fluffy socks.  Thankfully, we’ve had a few wet days in Adelaide, and with the children getting bigger, I managed to spend a good part of my term break catching up on my reading and not acting as referee.Wintergirls

I usually focus my reading (and reviews) on Aussie books but since I had some extra time I thought that I would look a little further afield.  I started my reading with a 2009 release that our lovely librarian at Gleeson College recommended.  Laurie Halse Anderson’s book Wintergirls shares the story of Lia in what is a deeply moving and highly confronting story about anorexia.  This beautifully written novel explores with an aching honesty, Lia’s descent into mental illness as she struggles to cope with the recent death of her friend Cassie to bulimia.  Not knowing much about the disease myself I can’t speak for the accuracy of the story but Anderson has certainly succeeded in making it seem authentic.

I followed Wintergirls with another American YA novel; this time the 2012 release Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf.  Breaking Beautiful is a mystery/romance.  I don’t usually go for mysteries but this one had enough teenage angst to keep me relatively interested.  It tells the story of Allie, who survives a car accident on a dangerous cliff road that succeeds in taking her boyfriend Trip’s life.  What follows is a piecing together of the night in which Allie (conveniently) is unable to remember.  Generally this is a fast paced novel that had me turning the pages quickly but is never quite got me as excited as I would have liked.

I continued the American theme in my reading with a foray into Veronica Roth’s now famous 2011 dystopian book Divergent.  I don’t often allow myself the opportunity to read blockbusters (I find them a distraction from all the wonderful Aussie books that I am so passionate about).  However, I consistently keep hearing good things about this one, and, what with the film’s recent release, I thought I might as well give it a go.  Without giving too much of a review (heavens I hardly think Roth needs my review), I was actually pleasantly surprised by this one.  Whilst not beautifully written by any stretch of the imagination, Roth has succeeded in doing what the Americans often seem to do so well; write brilliant stories that make you want more.  I do want more but I will probably whet my anticipation a while longer, watch the film, before delving into the second book in the series.breaking beautiful

Having gorged myself silly on American fiction I felt compelled to turn my attentions to an Aussie offering.  Fiona Wood’s 2013 YA Contemporary Wildlife is the second book in a series (the first book was called Six Impossible Things).  I haven’t read the first book, which didn’t really matter because (God bless Wood) the novels work well as stand-alone.  Wildlife is essentially the story of Sibylla who is a pretty mixed up sixteen year old who is just beginning her rite of passage adventure as a boarder in her exclusive private school outdoor education program.  This is a highly readable story that many teenagers will relate to.  I didn’t mind it, although I did find Wood’s style of narration disjointed and frankly irritating at times.  Furthermore, and I am still not sure if this even is a criticism,  the story focuses on the escapades of the middle class privileged kids from a snotty private school.  Personally I found this annoying, however I do appreciate that this is certainly the experience of many young people in Australia.Divergent

I followed this theme of Aussie Fiction with a new release offering from Suzy Zail,  Alexander Altmann A10567 (2014).  In this serious piece of historical fiction Zail explores an experience of the Holocaust through the eyes of a fourteen year old Jewish boy Alexander.  We follow Alex as he survives Auschwitz and suffers the dehumanising experience of the Nazi death camps.  I’ve read many Holocaust books over the years, and while this is a good one, it is certainly not the best I’ve read.  That said, it is a beautifully crafted story, using accessible language that will ensure that it is deeply appreciated by a new generation of young people.

I finished my holiday reading with a lovely little story by English author David Gilman.  Monkey and Me (2014), sat on my bedside table for a whole week before my ten year old daughter picked it up and read it.  When I was finally able to prise it out of her hands she raved about it so profusely that I promised to read it directly.  She was right, this is an amazing little book.  Monkey and Me tells the story of Beanie, a nine year old boy living with leukaemia whose friendship with juvenile chimpanzee Malcolm, has surprising and comedic results.  Beanie’s innocence and optimism, in spite of his illness, shines brightly, and captivated me from the outset.  This is one of those stories that once started I couldn’t put it down.  It will have broad appeal with children and adults alike.Monkey-and-MeAlex Altmann

Well that’s it for now.  It is back to school for me next week and back to my regular schedule of planning, teaching and marking student work.  Stay tuned though because I promise to have some new and exciting books to share with you very soon.