Sunday, April 19, 2009

Absolutely Maybe - by Lisa Yee

Absolutely Maybe was GREAT!  It is a road trip to Los Angeles and fun when you're there. 

Maybe is a young girl who has one heck of a mother.  Chessy, Maybe's mom, could have been Miss America.  She had all kinds of beauty queen titles in her past and runs a charm school in Florida where they live.  Maybe isn't one of the pageant girls, though, and wears jeans and extra large Hanes beefy tees instead of girlie clothes.  One thing that Maybe's mom also has had a lot of--husbands.  She's been married tons but not to Maybe's father.  When Chessy hurts maybe one to many times, Maybe decides she must go out on her own and find her father and herself.  Her friend Hollywood is headed to go to college at USC film school, so Maybe, Hollywood, and their crazy friend Ted hit the road and drive to LA.

Life in LA isn't that easy though.  After they tour around and see all the main attractions, Maybe and Ted realize they will need jobs if they are going to survive.  Ted strikes a great job (and starts wearing platform shoes...) but Maybe isn't so lucky.  This book tells about what these kids do in LA and how Maybe goes about trying to find her father.

This book was so funny.  The characters are all original personalities.  Maybe, Hollywood, Ted, Jess, and the rest, are all so real.  Each character is fully developed and all of their stories work well together.  What's more...this book involves a taco truck and lots in great info about tacos and taco trucks.  I absolutely loved Absolutely Maybe.

Grade: A

If I Stay - by Gayle Forman

Wow.  First, I have to say I really, really loved this book.  It's short (196 pages) but packed full of so much.  Ups and downs; funny parts, sweet parts, sad parts; goods and bads; friends and family--it's amazing.  

Mia is a 17 year old girl who is a cello genius.  She loves music and music runs in her family, although none of them are into classical music.  She has friends at school and a really talented boyfriend, Adam, who went to school with her but is away at college now.  He also tours with is band which is making it big right now.  Mia loves her family and has decisions to make:  stay with Adam, go to Julliard, etc...but no decision is bigger than the one she has to make unexpectedly one day when her family is in a devastating car accident.  A

After the accident, Mia find herself looking down at her own body watching from the outside.  As she gets flown off in a helicopter, she keeps watching and has to decided if she stays or not.  The book tells  the story of Mia and her decision.  Flashbacks and present action are woven artfully together.  In a short amount of time the reader gets to know so much about Mia, her family and friends, that you feel like you are sitting right there in the waiting room with them.  

This is a horrible situation, but somehow, the book was happy at times and funny.  I enjoyed Forman's writing style and the realistic way she portrayed family relationships and friendships. I highly recommend this book to teens and adults alike, I think you'll love it.

Grade: A

You Suck - by Christopher Moore

I loved Lamb by Christopher Moore and was excited to see what You Suck would be like.  I've of course read the Twilight books and Cirque Du Freak, but I was hoping for a funny vampire story when I started this book, and that is exactly what I got.  

You suck is about Tommy Flood who is turned into a vampire by his girlfriend, Jody.  The problem is that he didn't ask to be turned into a blood-sucking monster, and that both Tommy and Jody have captured the old vampire who turned Jody, and that old vampire wants out, AND Tommy's old friends are  trying to capture him...and the list goes on!  

Jody has been forced to leave town (San Francisco) once the cops find out that she is a vampire.  In order for Jody and Tommy to get out of town, they have to find a minion to do their bidding during the day...enter Abby Normal, a sweet freak girl who helps them out.  

Abby was what made this book for me.  Every so often the book is told from the point of view of her journal and I loved her voice.  She is really funny, but honest too.  The characters in this book were all hilarious from the Animals (Tommy's group of friends who stock groceries and go frozen turkey bowling at night) to William and his large cat (he's a homeless dude with a really big cat).  This book was a funny vampire story and not scary at all.  The only heads-up that I need to say is that there is a lot of foul language.  It's funny, but foul.  There are also a few sexual situations in the book.  So if you don't mind that and want to run around San Francisco with a bunch of vampires and vampire killers, then have at it.  I would recommend this book to older teens and upper classmen who can handle the language and suggestiveness more.  Too much for middle school. 

Grade:  B

The Dead Fathers Club - by Matt Haig

I love Shakespeare and am always interested to read new versions and reimaginings of Shakespeare's classic stories.  The Dead Father's Club is a modern day Hamlet and it was pretty good.  

The main character is a young boy named Philip Noble.  Philip's dad was killed in a single car accident.  Losing a parent is bad enough, but after his father's funeral, Philip is visited by his father's ghost.  Philip's father tells him that he was murdered by Philip's Uncle Alan, and that Philip must murder Alan in order for his father's ghost to move on and escape "the terrors."  The Dead Fathers Club is the story of what Philip decides to do about his Uncle.

One feature of this book that makes it different is the narration.  The book is narrated from Philip's point of view and has no punctuation except for periods at the ends of sentences.  The voice reminded me of The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night Time.  

I enjoyed this version of the Hamlet story, but at times, I lost interest.  I didn't get overly angry with characters or emotionally moved to feel for them much, even Philip, who is the main victim in the story.  The way he contemplates what he has to do is very different than the real Hamlet (who is in his twenties).  I just didn't get into this book that much.  I would recommend it to people who know the Hamlet story and who want to read a new version of the tale.  If you liked Curious Incident, you might also like the voice in this book.

Grade:  C