If you’ve read Stacie Ramey’s debut novel, The Sister Pact (and if you haven’t, you should!), then you already know John Strickland, the main character in Ramey’s sophomore release, The Homecoming. John’s moved back home with his mother as the novel opens, a place he hasn’t lived in a while. His girlfriend Leah has committed suicide, and John’s resulting bad choices have put him in a position where he has to answer to a probation officer as well as deal with the return to a home he doesn’t want to be in.
John, in his senior year of high school, has to readjust to a life he doesn’t want to have. His little sister, Livy, is thrilled to have John home, and he has a new next door neighbor, Emily, who, despite his best intents, draws his romantic interest. But the one thing we can never escape is our past, and John not only deals with the guilt of his girlfriend’s suicide, he also bears weight on his shoulders as a result of a childhood accident that changed his older brother, Ryan, forever. Because of the accident, Ryan has center stage in their mother’s life, and John once again has to deal with a ton of anger issues as a result.
The Homecoming is a brilliantly told story of a young man trying to figure out where he fits in and who he wants to be. His struggles are real, and that is a compliment to the author, whose details create a world that we believe. She skillfully weaves John’s backstory – including The Sister Pact’s main character, Allie – throughout in such a way that we really understand where John is coming from, and there are some shocks and surprises in store as the plot winds its way from the beginning to the very satisfying ending.
Read this book. 🙂
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In Jill MacKenzie’s debut novel Spin the Sky, dancer Magnolia “Mags” Woodson wants to change her life. Not just because she suffers from typical teenage angst – no, that’s not Mags’ issue. For Mags, living in a small Oregon town with the small-town mentality means she and her sister, Rose, are looked down upon because of something they didn’t do. Their mother’s act and subsequent disappearance have made the townspeople turn on Mags and Rose. And soft-hearted Mags wants to prove she deserves better.
When her best friend, George, talks her into trying out for a televised dance competition reality show, Live to Dance, Mags wants to go. She sees it as an opportunity to prove she’s not a “no-good Woodson girl.” Rose doesn’t want her to go, but Mags goes anyway.
In the quest to win the show and thus, the respect of her town, Mags risks everything – her relationship with her sister, with George, with new friends made during auditions, and with herself. Can her friendship with George survive? Will she lose everything in her unsinkable desire to make good?
MacKenzie’s gifted storytelling weaves Magnolia’s tale so skillfully you won’t want to put the book down. The twists, turns, and surprises of the plot are satisfying and fulfilling. The dance knowledge MacKenzie clearly has sculpts Mags’ character deeply. This is a heroine we care about, and want to succeed in her quests. But will she?
You’ll have to read the book to find out. 🙂
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Sonya Sones made me cry today. Her new book, Saving Red, is a beautiful glimpse into the life of a struggling young girl whose encounter with a homeless girl changes much about her perspectives.
Molly has a secret. It’s not one she wants to tell anyone, but it is the reason she has an emotional support dog, Pixel, and also why Pixel is her only friend. Her mother is continually stoned, and her father is a workaholic. As part of a community service requirement, Molly helps with her city’s homeless count one fateful evening, and that’s where she first encounters Red, a woman not too much older than she is who sparks a need in Molly to take care of her. In fact, since she can’t save her own family, Molly makes it her mission to reunite Red with her family in time for Christmas.
While on this mission, Molly also meets a young man named Cristo. They are randomly seated together on the Ferris wheel and they are immediately attracted to each other. Molly has one “date” with Cristo before he goes away with his family to New York for a vacation. Cristo is on board with “Operation Red,” and tries to help Molly from afar.
There is so much to love about Saving Red. Sonya Sones has a gift with books in verse, and this one is no exception. The carefully crafted poems that weave this story lead the reader from one plot point to another. I could not put the book down. The characters are so deeply constructed that they feel like people in life, not just on the page. And when I reached the end (no spoilers, I promise!), which was INCREDIBLY satisfying, the tears sprang from my eyes.
Sonya Sones is far and away my favorite verse novelist, and Saving Red does not disappoint. I highly recommend this book.
Buy the Book – Amazon