In Sarah Darer Littman’s novel, Backlash, the protagonist, Lara, has been devastated to find out the guy she thought liked her really doesn’t. The thing is, Lara didn’t actually know Christian – she met him online. And when he was so mean to her, it reminded her of what happened to her in middle school, and she felt so badly about herself that she tries to take herself out of the picture – permanently.
Told in alternating points of view from Lara, her sister Sydney, former best friend Bree, and Bree’s younger brother Liam, this novel emphasizes the fact that what hurts us in real life can also hurt us online, and that hiding behind a keyboard to be mean can, as the title indicates, come back to bite you in the butt. Littman explores the fallout of Lara’s suicide attempt as a result of the loss of her budding “relationship” with “Christian.” As the truth emerges, perceptions change and we come to learn that some people are not who they seem to be.
An interesting subplot involves the relationship between Sydney and Liam, who, despite the growing rift between their families, really seem to enjoy each other’s company. The family dynamics here are incredible to read. Lara struggles to overcome the cyberbullying she’s experienced while Mom is trying to make it a criminal offense, not even considering how Lara might feel about her crusade.
At some points this book is difficult to read – it’s sometimes hard to believe that people actually treat each other the way the characters in Lippman’s book do. But then we read articles daily about another child committing suicide due to bullying and cyber-bullying, and we know that as hard as it is to read, we not only NEED to read it, we need to FIGHT it.
Buy the Book – Amazon
I’ve always admired Laurent Linn as an illustrator; he’s created wonderful cover art for some of my favorite authors. So when I saw his byline on Draw the Line, I had to read it! I’m SO glad I did. Draw the Line tells a funny, touching story about gay-but-on-the-downlow Adrian Piper, an amazing comic artist who thinks of himself as invisible. The story takes us through the evolution of Adrian from his invisible, somewhat afraid self to someone who stands up for what is right, even if he’s the only one standing. The character development is so strong that I wanted to cry when I finished reading the book (in two sittings – would have been one if I hadn’t had a doctor appointment!). I adored all his characters, not just Adrian, but his friends Trent and Audrey, his classmates Kobe, Lev, Carmen and Kathleen, and even the bad guys were so wonderfully constructed I wanted to beat them up myself.
Laurent Linn’s debut YA is not just a great novel, it’s also enhanced by “Adrian’s” comic alter-ego, Graphite, and it’s so beautiful to see the art incorporated alongside the eloquent text.
I’m really glad to see more books emerging featuring LGBTQ characters in major roles. It gives those of us not falling into one of those initials a window into their world – and isn’t that the best function of a good book?
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So clearly, I’m in a retelling/re-imagining mode. But this book caught my eye in the bookstore for several reasons – I have friends who are Wiccan, and I have a fascination with witchcraft and all its forms, plus hello! Salem! I visited Salem many years ago and what a cool place, drenched in history!
And from history is where author Adriana Mather pulls her storyline. Much like Gaby Triana’s Wake the Hollow heroine Micaela, Mather’s protagonist, Samantha Mather, is whisked away to her family’s hometown of Salem by her stepmother, Vivian, after her father falls into a coma and is hospitalized. As the last name may clue in historians, Samantha (and the author!) is a descendant of Cotton Mather, a key figure in the Salem Witch Trials. For this alone, Sam is hated on sight by a group of girls (and one boy) at school who call themselves The Descendants (and you can guess from whom THEY descended to hate a Mather so much!). Living in the house of the grandmother she’d never met, Sam discovers there are mysteries to be uncovered. Her neighbor, Mable, has a son, Jaxon, who befriends Sam when no one else will look her way. With Sam’s arrival in town, members of the families of the Descendants suddenly start dying. What Sam finds out about the reasons why – with the help of a sexy ghost named Elijah – forces an uneasy alliance between Sam and several of the Descendants. Can they undo the curse before more of them die – including Sam’s own father?
How to Hang a Witch leans heavily on the history of Salem and the Witch Trials, though author Mather does take some liberties with fictionalization. However, it’s easy to see the thorough research woven skillfully through the fictional tale of the Witch Trial Descendants. This book, too, has a surprise ending that I did NOT see coming. A great read all around!
Buy the Book – Amazon
I’m a big fan of retellings and re-imaginings. Author Gaby Triana’s latest, Wake the Hollow, as its title indicates, is a Legend of Sleepy Hollow story. Micaela Burgos left Sleepy Hollow and her mother six years ago to live in Miami with her father. Now, her mother is gone, and Mica returns to Sleepy Hollow intent on finding out Sleepy Hollow’s secrets.
Her return is not met with the open arms of the town, except for her old friend Bram. At first, Mica lives with her father’s assistant in a house he acquired. She registers for school and does double duty as a student and a detective, uncovering clues left for her by her mother as well as from voices and visions she receives from an unknown “other.” A young guest teacher at her school proposes a link between Washington Irving and Mary Shelley, which seems to fit into some of the things Mica is learning. But is Dane friend or foe? Strange things keep occurring, and the closer Mica gets to an answer, the more dangerous the pursuit becomes. Will she find the answers before she, too, meets an untimely end? Who can she trust? Dane? Bram? Betty Anne, her mother’s long-time neighbor? Can she trust anyone in Sleepy Hollow?
Wake the Hollow is part mystery, part paranormal, part romance, and all enchanting. The plot is very well-paced. The characters are well-developed. It is very easy to slip into Mica’s world and ride this strange trail with her. And there are lovely twists and turns that make the ending a complete surprise.
Buy the Book – Amazon
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So welcome to my new blog, Share My YA. I devour books, and YA is my favorite for several reasons. One, I’m a high school teacher, and I love being able to recommend books to my students. The more I read, the more I can recommend. Two, I’m a pre-published YA novelist, shopping for an agent at the moment for my latest novel. Three, I just LOVE the genre – I’m emotionally stunted at sixteen and that’s why I love to read books about teens so much!
Right now, I plan to do a book recommendation a week. Depending on my schedule, I may throw some up more often. But I just started the blog today, and will post my first recommendation soon.
Feel free to share my site with teens and those interested in reading YA!