THIS BEAUTIFUL LIFE by Helen Schulman

Somewhere on the journey from the comfortable upstate college town of Ithaca to the glistening moneyed world of downtown Manhattan, the Burgamots have lost their way.

August 2, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: Contemporary, Family Matters, NE & New York, New York City, Reading Guide

BEAUTIFUL MALICE by Rebecca James

It is important to set the parameters, or the standards, of a Young Adult novel right up front when reviewing one in a public forum. The Young Adult novel is a genre that allows authors to explore edgy content within the typical bathos of teen self-consciousness. If a novel is to be successful in this market, it must ambitiously try to underscore topics such as murder, sickness, abuse, heroin addiction, suicide, sexuality – pretty much any topic with an “edge” – and have a central character that is either surrounded by the subject, or is going to potentially be lost to the subject. Take Romeo & Juliet, minus out the words of William Shakespeare, put it in first person narrative form – let’s let Romeo be the narrator – and you will be soundly situated in a Young Adult novel.

July 30, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Australia, Coming-of-Age, Mystery/Suspense, Psychological Suspense

THE EVOLUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE by Jacqueline Kelly

In the baking hot Texas summer of 1899, Harry, the oldest of eleven-year-old Calpurnia Tate’s six brothers gives her a notebook in which she begins to write down her observations of nature. She also longs to get her hands on Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species, but the local librarian says it’s barely fit for adults, let alone a child. Calpurnia’s mother is busy riding herd over her seven active offspring and running the house, while her father oversees their cotton acreage and the mill. Neither parent nor all the brothers seem to have a scientific bone in their bodies. In the Tate family, Darwin’s note that “the child often reverts in certain characters to its grandfather’ seems on the money: Calpurnia’s granddaddy is a rather remote man who retired from commerce years ago to take up the pursuits of a naturalist. One day he comes across his granddaughter making her notes, and they begin exploring their mutual interest together. The old man mentors her, even opening one of his locked cabinets to haul out his copy of the book she so wants to read.

July 16, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Debut Novel, Facing History, Newbury Award

03 by Jean-Christophe Valtat

Told through the voice of a high school narrator in the French town of Montperilleux, 03 captures the emotional rootlessness of the teen years brilliantly. The story revolves around the narrator’s interest in a fellow teenager, a girl who is mentally handicapped and who therefore travels to a special school on the outskirts of town. Even if the narrator is gifted and his mental faculties way ahead of the girl’s, he finds many similarities between himself and the girl. “I was like her, an overprotected schoolchild in a town where nothing at all could plausibly have distracted me from my records and books for any length of time,” he says.

July 14, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Coming-of-Age, France, World Lit