If you'd like to see my year-to-date four-plus- and five-star recommendations, visit Robin ReadsnWrites.
* I didn't make it beyond the first 20 pages.
** I made it to the end, but I either skimmed or skipped large sections.
*** I might have skipped/skimmed, but I liked it and might read it again.
**** I read at least 95% of the book and it was good -- probably will be reread.
***** I read every word, and I loved it! A favorite and definite reread.
Blood Wounds, by Susan Beth Pfeffer **** This was pretty engrossing. As happens with many of Pfeffer's characters, I found Willa (the MC) a little self-centered and insular. However, I felt that, by the end, Pfeffer did a good job of reversing a lot of that. Willa became more aware and sensitive to what those around her were actually feeling. *Plus*, as a bonus, Willa had strong reasons for her self-absorbedness, and I thought they were realistic and worked well. The entire book was an intriguing journey of self-discovery, not only for Willa, but for her entire blended family. The story: Willa's birth-father murders his current wife and their children, and when he goes missing, police fear he's coming after Willa and her mom. Willa's family, including her step-dad and two step-sisters seems almost perfect on the surface, but as they all reel from her birth-father's actions, many of the complexities begin to surface. Soon Willa is traveling back to her mom's home town and meeting people she's never heard of before -- but people who played a huge role in her mom's and birth-father's lives. Willa must decide if she wants to face reality or continue living in her own faux-world. (YA contemporary, released 9/11, publisher: Harcourt)
The Survival Kit, by Donna Freitas ***** I loved this, even though I cried throughout much of it. Freitas is officially one of my favorite authors, now that I've read her three books and loved each of them! This story is so touching, so brave, so filled with depth and beauty. Things I loved: Rose -- she was strong, vulnerable, hurting, loving; Krupa -- what a great best friend; Will -- a beautiful boy, also hurting yet coming out on the other side; Kecia and the cheerleaders -- I liked the positive take on this group which is so often maligned. Yes, the characters made this book. Each one felt real to me, and I especially liked how they were all *good* people. The story: Rose's mom dies, and Rose and her brother and father have to figure out how to continue on. Rose is mostly alone, as her brother is off at college and her dad has turned to drinking. She finds a Survival Kit (something their entire family used to make for those who needed help) from her mom, and she begins to work her way through grief using the supplies from her mom. Along the way, she discovers Will, a boy who's been right in front of her for years, but whom she couldn't see until now. Throughout the year following her mom's death, Rose must find her own, new path...and maybe even bless those around her at the same time. (YA contemporary, released 10/11, publisher: FSG)
A note: I cried for an interesting reason -- well, interesting to me ;) I absolutely read this book as a mom, and I cried for the possibility of my kiddos ever having to go through this. It was a great book, in that regard, because Rose's experience, though painful and truly tough, ended well. As a mom who can't know (at this point) what tomorrow will bring, it was so good to read this and know that kids can come through this kind of trauma and find light on the other side. The acknowledgements suggested that Freitas lost her own mom, and I'm trusting this story is a testament to the fact that she made it through, as well.
Currently Reading: Well, I haven't started the next one yet...
On Deck: Nor have I decided what kind of mood I'm in -- probably something light, however ;)
I also (finally) updated my other site, Robinreadsnwrites, if you're interested. Happy final day in November!