Insurgent movie review

insurgent movie poster

Not having read the Divergent series, I thought myself a great choice of reviewer for the movies — I am a clean slate, after all. And Divergent was fun. It had action, sacrifice, kickassery, feminine heroism, and Rose from Titanic. It had fighting and loving and tattoos and whooping and a very attractive, brooding male. […]

Life, death, and football

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Gritty and intense but also full of heart and hope, each of these four YA novels stars a teenage boy facing some of life’s most serious challenges. Andrew Smith follows his 2014 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award–winning Grasshopper Jungle with the similarly multilayered, ambitious novel The Alex Crow. Fifteen-year-old war refugee Ariel lived through the bombing […]

Review of Please Excuse This Poem

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Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation edited by Brett Fletcher Lauer and Lynn Melnick High School   Viking   289 pp. 3/15   978-0-670-01479-8   $16.99   g “Most poets begin writing poetry in secret.” Poet Carolyn Forché opens her introduction to this anthology of contemporary American poetry with a shout-out to young or burgeoning […]

Gender by the numbers

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A poster in our office lobby for the upcoming Simmons International Women’s Film Forum alerted me to the interestingly low–29%–number of female protagonists in films for children.* I guess it ain’t all Disney Princesses after all. How does this compare with the numbers in books for children? I asked myself. The gender disparity had been on my […]

Review of The Tight-Rope Walkers

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The Tight-Rope Walkers by David Almond High School   Candlewick   326 pp. 3/15   978-0-7636-7310-9   $17.99   g Dom is a clever, working-class boy from the north of England, beloved of his teachers, the hope of his parents. It’s the early 1960s, an optimistic period in British education, when the son of a shipbuilder could plausibly end up […]

Selfie Sweepstakes Reviews: Bandits Peak

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[As an experiment last fall, I invited self-publishers to submit their best new titles for review. About a dozen heeded the call, and I am reviewing their books in this space.] Bandits Peak; by Chris Eboch. Pig River Press, 2015. 173pp. ISBN 0-978-0692346006. Paper ed. $9.99 Jesse is out for a wander in the wilderness he loves […]

Review of Challenger Deep

Challenger Deep jacket

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman; illus. by Brendan Shusterman High School   HarperTeen   318 pp. 4/15   978-0-06-113411-1   $17.99   g e-book 978-0-06-223172-7   $9.99 This novel is a challenge to the reader from its first lines: author Shusterman takes us into the seemingly random, rambling, and surreal fantasies of fifteen-year-old Caden Bosch (yes, it makes sense to associate […]

Five questions for Neal Shusterman

Brendan and Neal Shusterman.

Neal Shusterman’s novel Challenger Deep (HarperTeen, 14 years and up) is a swirling, surrealistic look inside the mind of one teen, Caden, who is struggling with mental illness. Chapters narrated by Caden alternate between a bizarre shipboard setting and the world we know, all viewed through the teen’s sometimes impenetrable perspective. It’s a very personal […]

Truth, lies, and secrets

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Adolescence is a time of self-discovery — and of deciding how much of that self to reveal to others. These new YA books explore themes of honesty and dishonesty, secret selves and public personas. When compiling the book Things I’ll Never Say: Stories About Our Secret Selves, editor Ann Angel asked contributors to write “about […]

Review of The Walls Around Us

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The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma High School   Algonquin   321 pp. 3/15   978-1-61620-372-6   $17.95   g e-book ed. 978-1-61620-486-0   $17.95 Orianna Speerling — the so-called “Bloody Ballerina” — is just fifteen when she is convicted of murdering two rival dancers. A month after her sentence begins, all forty-two girls interned at the Aurora Hills […]