Monday, August 31, 2015

Teen Book Review: Hold Me Closer

Title: Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story
Author: David Levithan
Teen Reviewer: Mikaela Palandra
Rating: 4/5 Stars

The story is in a script form, although the stage directions are more detailed and are used as the way to give better insight into the story and the character’s thoughts. The first act goes through Tiny’s basic journey of self-discovery as he grew up until he was able to confidently accept that he’s gay. The second act takes a different route; now that he’s come out, he feels ready to act on his sexuality and find love. The rest of the script shows what Tiny learns from his many, many ex-boyfriends and keeps a hopeful ending for the future.

 The big confidence of Tiny--that he showed throughout almost the whole story--wasn’t super relatable for some people who still have doubts, but it was refreshing to see. i.e It’s uplifting to see proud gay characters. The script format isn’t one of my favorites but that’s of course up to opinion. I came into this with some knowledge of Will Grayson, Will Grayson but not a ton. I think it stood well on its own and made sense, cohesively. I liked the way the character dealt with issues outside of his sexuality, and while it wasn’t incredibly in depth due to short length and the format, it had really positive messages and was, generally, just a lighthearted quick read.

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Monday, August 17, 2015

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly Teen Book Review

Title: The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly
Author: Stephanie Oakes
Teen Reviewer: Mikaela Palandra
Rating: 5/5 Stars

The scene starts with Minnow, a 17-year-old girl who’s never seen outside her isolated world in a religious cult, finally escaping to society and assaulting a man in a lapse of rationality.  The rest of the novel alternates between her life in prison and flashbacks to her life in the forest and how she ended up in her situation. Throughout the novel, Minnow keeps secrets from authorities and friends, as well as the reader. We only discover her secrets when she is ready to share them with others. The nightmare that the Prophet brought to her life and the crimes of herself and others that led to its destruction are slowly exposed. Minnow comes to terms with her past and creates her own ideas to replace the lies she was taught by the Prophet in order to grow and find passion for life again.

            Overall, I rated this book really high because the author managed to handle a lot of dramatic themes without making them overly cheesy and cliché. The religious cult that Minnow was a part of was described in a way that brought the wild and dramatic ideas and occurrences down to earth, so it was seen in a realistic rather than absurd way. Minnow had a relationship with a boy Jude she met in the woods, who was outside her religion. While she did place a lot of importance in him, by the end of the novel, the two did show differences and flaws; again, realistically displaying the troubles even with someone you love.  Also, Minnow’s thoughts while in prison reflecting on her past brought her many questions. She learns to be independent and create her own decisions and ideas about life. As a character, she is incredibly strong and thought provoking. As she questions what she once believed about life and the world, she asks herself questions that force you into your own self-reflection. I would recommend this book because its over the top enough to be something different than other YA novels while still being relatable.