Sunday, September 27, 2009

Luna. By Julie Anne Peters

Title: Luna
Author: Julie Anne Peters
Publisher: Little Brown Young Readers
ISBN: 0316011274
Date: February 1, 2006

Critical Analysis:
This book had it all! A strong plot, rich characterization, a good theme and easy to follow writing style that would keep the reader engaged. This is a story of a teenage girl named Regan who has a transgender brother named Liam and her feelings and experiences relating to her brother’s sexual identity. Liam who is known as Luna when he dresses as a girl goes through many ups and downs while trying to decide on coming out to the world. Regan, who supports her brother, is very concerned on how the world will treat Luna and how her father with traditional views will react.

The plot is very convincing and strong and I feel Luna’s experiences may mimic others who are going through the same identity issues. While I valued the author’s focus on Luna, I really liked how the author scripted the story from Regan’s views. In this type of situation I really liked to see Luna’s world through Regan. I found Regan’s acknowledgements of Liam as her sister interesting and how she always knew he was a girl trapped in a boy’s body even more interesting. Regan’s emotional conflict presented much merit in the story because in my opinion some tend to forget how other’s behaviors can affect someone. For example, Regan had a slumber party when she was younger and Liam joined the fun of finger nail painting and dancing to Madonna without thinking how the other girls would react. It was upsetting to Regan when she had to deal with the other girls saying things like, “your brother is weird” or “what’s wrong with him?”!

The characters in the story were well represented and there was a good combination of negative and positive influences. I would have liked to have seen more of Luna’s views. Luna was a very interesting character but in my opinion never really peaked until the very end when Luna finally confronted his father and then left to go get a transgender operation in Seattle. I felt the theme of the story was well represented and would engage the reader to think more about attitudes of transgender persons and how society views them. The author’s writing style flowed well and kept me engaged. This book would be appealing to teens because of the realism this story has to offer. While this story did have some very dark moments, there were some very funny moments as well. I liked Regan’s love interest, Chris, and with all of her family’s chaos, he did not pass judgment. Good book!

Review Excerpts:
Horn Book (The Horn Book Guide, Fall 2004):
"Regan is the only one who can see her brother Liam's true self--a girl born in the wrong body. Night after night, Liam has slipped into her room to secretly transform into a girl with makeup and wigs; now he's taken a new name, Luna, signaling the greater change about to come. While this book is determined to educate, Peters succeeds in creating whole, complex characters confronting transgender issues. Category: Older Fiction. 2004, Little/Tingley, 248pp, $16.95. Ages 12 to 14. Rating: 2: Superior, well above average" Retrieved from Children's Literature Database (Accessed September 27, 2009).

Borders Original Voices Award, 2004.
Colorado Book Award, 2005.
Lambda Literary Award, 2004.
National Book Award, 2004.
Stonewall Book Award, 2005.
I found a wonderful teacher's guide for this book that includes discussion questions. You can access this teacher's guide by clicking on: (Accessed on Septmenber 27, 2009).

The Chosen One. By Carol Lynch Williams

Title: The Chosen One.
Author: Carol Lynch Williams
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
ISBN: 0312555113
Date: May 12, 2009

Critical Analysis:

This was a very interesting book! The author did a great job. I felt the plot was strong and believable because this book revolves around a young girl named Kyra in a polygamist cult and shows her difficulties which could be a very real scenario today.

For example, when Prophet Childs comes to Kyra’s trailer and tells her and her family that she has been chosen to marry her Uncle Hyrum, who is many years her senior, could be a scene straight from real news headlines! Kyra’s struggle to get away from her Uncle Hyrum and the God Squad was so mind captivating that you will keep reading to the very end!

I felt the author used the right amount of characterization in this book. There were not too many but enough to keep the story believable with the balance of good and evil. For example, I really wanted to choke Prophet Childs, Uncle Hyrum, Sheriff Felix and the rest of the God Squad when they harmed Kyra and threatened her family. It was absolutely horrifying when Uncle Hyrum came to Kyra’s trailer to show his brother (Kyra’s father) how to properly discipline baby Mariah by submersing her in a tub of ice and water for crying in front of Prophet Childs! I have to admit though my favorite character was Patrick, the mobile librarian, and I was so sad when the God Squad beat him to death for trying to help save Kyra. In the end, I was very happy when Kyra escaped and that justice was being served to the evil doers!

This book was a fast read and I felt the author did a great job by keeping the reader engaged; the text format flowed and leaves the reader thinking far after reading this book.

Review Excerpts:

Horn Book (The Horn Book Guide, Fall 2009):

"Thirteen-year-old Kyra is part of a polygamous sect, obedient to her father, his wives, and God's will as interpreted by their prophet. When the prophet says she must marry her sixty-year-old uncle, Kyra begins to imagine a life outside her secluded community. The immediacy of Kyra's first-person perspective heightens the story's emotional impact. Readers will hold their breath, hoping for her freedom. Category: Older Fiction. 2009, St. Martin's/Griffin, 353pp, 16.95. Ages 12 to 14. Rating: 2: Superior, well above average" Retrieved from Children's Literature Database (Accessed September 27, 2009).


I found a discussion guide for this book that starts off with a Q&A with the author Carol Lynch Williams and is follwed by a group of discussion questions. You can access this guide by clicking on: (Accessed on September 27, 2009).

Story of a Girl. By Sara Zarr

Title: Story of a Girl
Author: Sara Zarr
Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers
ISBN: 0316014540
Date: February 1, 2008

Critical Review:

This was a moving story of a girl named Deanna and her difficult relationship with her father after being caught having sex in the back of a car. Rumors spread across this small town and labeled Deanna as “easy.” Deanna struggles with her feeling in friendships, romantic relationships, and family dynamics.

The author did a good job with the plot, characterization, setting and theme. For example, the plot is very believable and I feel that many teens could relate to Deanna’s problems. The characterization in this story had a good balance. There was not an overpowering force of one over the other. Even though Deanna had some real difficulties, you were introduced to her caring best friend Lee, who never gave up on their friendship even after Deanna kissed Lee’s boyfriend Jason. I liked Lee’s character and I wished the author included her more instead of having her away camping only to have her return in the end. Deanna’s brother was very protective of her and it was nice to see the relationship between the two. The setting was in a small town that was thoroughly described as everyone knows everything and this attitude carries to the high school.

I felt the author did a good job of showing an insight to teen readers that they need to understand the consequences of their actions. This consequence was especially present because her brother Darren and his girlfriend Stacy who are young unwed parents and must live in the basement of Darren and Deanna parent’s house. Another great example of this was when Deanna talked about her regret to losing her virginity to Tommy, the boy that her father caught her with. In the end, I was happy to see that Deanna was mending her relationship with her father and Lee, her best friend.

This book would be appealing to teens because I feel teens could relate to Deanna’s problems. The issues in this book go far beyond one area. They include family issues, peer relationships, school cliques, drug use and unplanned pregnancies (Darren and Stacy). Good book!

Review Excerpts:

Horn Book (The Horn Book Guide, Fall 2007):

"At thirteen, Deanna is caught by her father having sex with Tommy, a seventeen-year-old. Three years later, Deanna's peers still whisper about her reputation, and her father hardly speaks to her. Deanna desperately struggles to escape her past, despite sometimes missing the way Tommy made her feel wanted. Deanna's motivations to have sex, and the consequences, are thoughtfully, honestly, and convincingly explored. Category: Older Fiction. 2007, Little, 192pp, 16.99. Ages 12 to 14. Rating: 3: Recommended, satisfactory in style, content, and/or illustration" Retrieved from the Children's Literature Database (Accessed September 27, 2009).


This would be a great book to use in a teen book club to help teens open up and discuss family problems, social issues such as dating and sexual behavior and forgiveness. I feel that many teens will be able to relate to the characters in the story and that they would read this book leisurely.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Module 1 YA Classic: Seventeenth Summer By Maureen Daly

Title: Seventeenth Summer
Author: Maureen Daly
Publisher: Simon Pulse (October 3, 1985)
ISBN: 0671619314

Critical Analysis:

I would have to say that this is the cleanest and most innocent first love young adult romance novel I have ever read! The format was easy to follow but unfortunately this book was also the slowest read I have experienced. The story was fine but lacked that certain action / in depth romance feeling for me. I realize this could be attributed to the era of the 1940s when this book was written.

It's not that I disliked the story, I just did not have a connection. The story of Angie and Jack falling in love was very sweet with a few upsets along the way. For example, Angie accepted a date with Tony who was considered "fast" by their peers and this was upsetting to Jack when he found out. At least Jack came to his senses and decided to forgive Angie and date her again.

This story lacked sexual tones that are present in today's young adult romances. I don't even remember any bad language, which was a nice change. I did however get a kick out of the part of the story where Angie's sister Lorraine asked Angie if she has ever "necked" with a boy! Apparently that was a serious thing to do with a boy back then! I did not care too much for Lorraine's sometime boyfriend Martin because he was a real jerk! For example, it was sad when Angie looked out from her booth in the diner and saw Martin leave with another woman!

In conclusion, I felt that the language was an issue due to the time period. In the end I was glad that Angie still went off to college. I had to admit I was moved when Jack gave her his class ring while they were out on the water in the boat for the last time. I do not think most teens would just choose this book for leisurely reading purposes, especially male teens.

Review Excerpts:

Horn Book (The Horn Book Guide, Spring 2003):

"Often casually lumped with the formula teen romances it inspired, Maureen Daly's novel of more than sixty years ago was and remains a true original. The story of Angie's first love is richly textured by the evocation of its small-town Wisconsin setting; Angie's relationships with her parents and sisters also add depth. While references clearly reveal the book to be an artifact from another era, the writing is lyrical but spare, not florid but intensely romantic. Category: Older Fiction. 2002 (orig. 1942), Simon, 312pp, $17.95. Ages 12 to 14. Rating: 3: Recommended, satisfactory in style, content, and/or illustration" Retrieved from Chidren's Literature Database (Accessed Septmenber 10, 2009).


This book would be great to use in a teen book club to help open up discussions on relationships. This would be a good book to recommend to parents that do not want to have their teens reading young adult romance novels that contain sexual content or bad language.

Module 1 Recent Award Winner: Godless By Peter Hautman

Title: Godless
Author: Peter Hautman
Publisher: Simon Pulse (October 25, 2005)
ISBN: 1416908161

Critical Analysis:
This book took an interesting view of a teen boy named Jay Bock belief's on religion. Jay decides he had enough of his traditional Catholic religion and sets out with his bestfriend Shin to create a new religion of worshiping water towers as gods. He calls his members "Chutengodian." Jay soon realizes the dangers that his beliefs pose on others in the group and tries to set things right.
The author did a good job with the text format but unfortunately I was not as engaged. This could be due to the story in general because I had a hard time of grasping the fact that they were worshiping water towers as gods. However, I could see why this book could be chosen by a teen to read. For example, the story does deal with social peer interactions, questioning of religion, parental disagreements, behavioral consequences, suicidal behavior and sexual intrigue.
I felt that the water tower worship was more of a back drop to the actual story line of peer relationships. This is represented in the way Jay picked some of his followers to compensate for his own weaknesses. For example, when Jay decided to make Henry a member who was a well know bully/tough to his peers, I felt his choice was based clearly on Henry's rebellion of authority and his physical strenghts. This was made clear when Henry showed Jay how to climb the water tower and Henry's aggression towards the police when he was questioned after the vandalism and accident at the water tower. Henry assured Jay that he would not "rat" him out.
The story did have bits of humor and suspense that would help keep teen readers engaged. For example, when Jay, Henry, Dan and Magda were inside the water tower swimming, Jay made the comment of a homeowner drinking some tap water in the night and saying it tasted like sweaty teenagers! One of the most suspenseful moments for me was when Jay's friend Shin lost touch with reality and was doing things that could have inadvertently lead to his death.
In conclusion, even though I did not particulary like or dislike this book, I feel the author's writing format made this story easy to follow. I did value the moral undertones that were present in the story. For example, in the end Jay had to try to right what he had done wrong which was difficult and I feel teens could relate to this.

Review Excerpts:

Horn Book (The Horn Book Guide, Fall 2004):

"Fed up with his parents' Catholicism, Jay Bock, sixteen, decides that the local water tower will make as good a god as any. Within days Jay's cult has followers, and he is amazed by the results of his own game. The novel is sometimes superficial in its exploration of the nature of religion and faith, but Hautman's prose is brisk and colloquial, and young adults will respond to Jay's rebellion. Category: Older Fiction. 2004, Simon, 198pp, $15.95. Ages 12 to 14. Rating: 2: Superior, well above average" Retrieved from Children's Literature Database (Accessed September 10, 2009).


National Book Awards, 2004.
Minnesota Book Award, 2005.
Outstanding Books by Wisconsin Authors and Illustrators, 2005

After searching on-line, I came across some discussion questions directly from the author's website. You can access these questions and other useful information that can be used in book clubs, discussions and/or programming ideas by clicking on: (accessed on September 10, 2009).

Module 1 Printz Award Book: Repossessed By A. M. Jenkins

Title: Repossessed
Author: A. M. Jenkins
Publisher: HarperTeen Reprint edition (December 30, 2008)
ISBN: 0060835702

Critical Analysis:

found this book engaging! I started reading this book and I could not put it down until I finished it. The format was easy to follow and would be enjoyed by both male and female teens. For example, the fallen angel named Kiriel who possessed Shawn's body experienced many situations that teens could understand. These included sexual experiences, friendships, divorced parents and social groups in school.

When Kiriel came face to face with a bully named Reed in the school cafeteria, Kiriel gave insight into why Reed acted this way. This made me as the reader feel empathy for Reed because he was refusing the help Kiriel offered to avoid many years of torment for his soul. This event was very thought provoking and I feel this could be a sort of learning experience for teens in the same situation.

This book was also very funny at times which would help keep the reader engaged. For example, when Kiriel got busted by the "angel of the Lord" in an AOL chat room that was hilarious! Even Kiriel was surprised to get busted via the internet! I especially enjoyed Kiriel's definition of american curse words being related to natural bodily functions and how he didn't understand why they were offensive.

In conclusion, this book was a very enjoyable and a fast read. The text format flowed very well and was engaging. The story ended with Kiriel experiencing Shawn's death of being hit by the truck, so he could leave Shawn's body and Shawn was given a second chance at life.

Review Excerpts:
Horn Book (The Horn Book Guide, Spring 2008)

"Tired of tormenting the damned, fallen angel Kiriel hijacks a human body. The novelty of life as a corporeal being, specifically slacker teen Shaun, fascinates Kiriel, whose descriptions of human experiences--from eating and bathing to handling a bully and lusting after a girl--are both funny and affecting in this provocative novel. Category: Older Fiction. 2007, HarperTeen, 218pp, 15.99, 16.89. Ages 12 to 14. Rating: 3: Recommended, satisfactory in style, content, and/or illustration" Retrieved from the Children's Literature Database (Accessed September 10, 2009).


Michael L Printz Award, 2008.
Golden Spur Award Honor Book (Texas)
Cybils, 2007.


After search the internet, I found a wonderful group of discussion questions that were created for this book. You can access these questions by clicking on: (accessed on September 10, 2009). There are about 14 discussion questions and 5 extention acivities that would be great to use in order to get teens to think outside the box especially in the area of religion!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

New Requirement for my blog!

As of today 09/05/09 my blog will be used to post book reviews as required by the Advanced Young Adult Literature (LS5623) class I am taking this semester.