“Repossessed” by A.M. Jenkins

Repossessed Book Cover Repossessed
A. M. Jenkins
Juvenile Fiction
Harper Collins
2007-05-29
218
Oyster

2008 Michael L Printz Honor Book

Don't call me a demon. I prefer the term Fallen Angel.

Everybody deserves a vacation, right? Especially if you have a pointless job like tormenting the damned. So who could blame me for blowing off my duties and taking a small, unauthorized break?

Besides, I've always wanted to see what physical existence is like. That's why I "borrowed" the slightly used body of a slacker teen. Believe me, he wasn't going to be using it anymore anyway.

I have never understood why humans do the things they do. Like sin--if it's so terrible, why do they keep doing it?

I'm going to have a lot of fun finding out!

This was? OK? I guess? The idea was interesting, a demon possessing a teenaged boy, and experiencing life on Earth through his body, but the execution was a little underwhelming for me. I guess I wanted there to be more to it, more plot, more exploration, just…more…

It also took a preachy turn to it towards the end that I thought was a little too in your face, message-wise.

This is ridiculously short, but the more time I spend agonizing about what to say about a book that clear the threshold of awesome for me is less time I can spend reading….

“One Whole and Perfect Day” by Judith Clarke

One Whole and Perfect Day Book Cover One Whole and Perfect Day
Judith Clarke
Juvenile Fiction
Front Street Incorporated
2006
250
Purchased

In this Michael L. Printz Honor Book, Lily wishes she could be like the other girls in her class. But how can she? As the only sensible person in her family, she never has time to hang out with friends. Someone has to stay home to look after her brother. Maybe she should fall in love! What could be less sensible that that?
When her grandmother invites the whole family to a party, Lily cannot imagine how they will make it through the day. Her mother is always bringing home strange people. Lily doesn't even know her father . Her grandfather has disowned her brother. Her brother has a new girlfriend that no one has met. To top it all off, that day when her eye caught Daniel Steadman's just for a moment, she felt all woozy inside. If that was love, she isn't sure she likes the feeling. As the party approaches, all Lily can hope for is one whole and perfect day. Is it too much to ask?

I was completely underwhelmed by this novel and was glad it was so short. I didn’t really care about the characters, and all of the coincidences were a little too coincidental for me.

The whole thing felt a little pointless, and while I can handle a character-driven story that is light on plot, this was a little too far over that line for me.

Oooo, a three sentence post. OK, 4 with that one. Well, once I finish this it’ll be 6.

“Surrender” by Sonya Hartnett

Surrender Book Cover Surrender
Sonya Hartnett
Juvenile Fiction
Candlewick Press
2012-06-26 (first published January, 2005)
256
Oyster

2007 Michael L Printz Honor Book

As life slips away, Gabriel looks back over his brief twenty years, which have been clouded by frustration and humiliation. A small, unforgiving town and distant, punitive parents ensure that he is never allowed to forget the horrific mistake he made as a child. He has only two friends - his dog, Surrender, and the unruly wild boy, Finnigan, a shadowy doppelganger with whom the meek Gabriel once made a boyhood pact. But when a series of arson attacks grips the town, Gabriel realizes how unpredictable and dangerous Finnigan is. As events begin to spiral violently out of control, it becomes devastatingly clear that only the most extreme measures will rid Gabriel of Finnigan for good.

I’m about 8 books and 2 weeks behind on writing posts. I keep saying it: but it’s much easier to just keep reading, rather than taking the time to reflect.

If you don’t like books with unreliable narrators and/or ambiguous endings, this book is definitely not for you.

And it wasn’t just the end that was ambiguous, everything (everything!) all along the way was off kilter, and just want I thought I had a clue, something else weird would happen.

Disturbing and strange — I still haven’t decided if I’m a fan of this one or not. The language was beautiful in many places –I highlighted a section that described a car catching on fire as a passage that particularly struck me:

“The Wolseley was parked in the driveway and its blue bulk was swollen with molten flames, which brightened my father’s pale face. I stopped on the lawn, shielding my eyes, and as the fire banked and swept I glimpsed the warped seat, the dashboard consumed, the bonnet buckled into a scream. The air was dense with toxic stink, and blankets of black smoke surfed up to the sky. Sparks arched across the lawn and fell glowing into the grass.”

An ugly thing to describe, but at the same time: made amazing and compelling by Hartnett’s word choices. I can see that car on fire, and I can’t really look away.

A lot of the time, though, the language went from wonderful to completely overblown and over the top. I didn’t highlight any of those passages, because I tended to skim when it got like that.

It’s been about 2 weeks since I read this one — it has lingered, as I tried to decide what I thought. What was real (or not…)? How much was fantasy, mental illness, wishful thinking, or reality and truth. I think this would be an excellent book to read with others, to have someone to argue about it with and to get their opinions. I suspect that you’d get different interpretations from every single reader.

“Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy” by Gary D. Schmidt

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy Book Cover Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy
Gary D. Schmidt
Juvenile Fiction
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2004
219
Library

2005 Michael L. Printz Honor Book

In 1911, Turner Buckminster hates his new home of Phippsburg, Maine, but things improve when he meets Lizzie Bright Griffin, a girl from a poor, nearby island community founded by former slaves that the town fathers--and Turner's--want to change into a tourist spot.

I feel like I should like this one a lot more than I actually do. Yes, it kept my attention, I didn’t set it aside and moan about having to read it, and yes, Turner, the main character was very likeable. But everyone else seemed like a cardboard character. The bad white guys are very bad. The black inhabitants of Malaga Island, that the bad guys want to get rid of, are all good. Sure, Turner’s Dad comes around a bit, and when his Mom is finally acknowledged as a character that can speak, she stands behind Turner, but where was she sooner? Why did it take Turner’s Dad so long to get his act together for his son?

OK, fine, some of the bad characters weren’t so bad after all, they had Reasons for being like they were, but it all felt very staged, very much a Book with an Important Message.

Needless to say, I was underwhelmed.

“The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things” by Carolyn Mackler

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things Book Cover The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things
Carolyn Mackler
Juvenile Fiction
Candlewick Press
2011-05-10
256

Fifteen-year-old Virginia Shreves has a larger-than-average body and a plus-size inferiority complex, especially when she compares herself to her slim, brilliant, picture-perfect family. But that's before a shocking phone call - and a horrifying allegation - about her rugby-star brother changes everything. With irreverent humor and surprising gravity, Carolyn Mackler creates an endearingly blunt heroine who speaks to every teen who struggles with family expectations, and proves that the most impressive achievement is to be true to yourself.

I was worried, based on the title, that this was going to be like Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging, but thankfully it was so much better. It had a lot more emotional depth and punch, and the crisis was much weightier. It wasn’t perfect, I’m not sure how you write a book about a girl with body issues and not have it hit the wrong note for someone.

And for as much self-hate as Virginia expressed for most of the book, I thought it ended up wrapping up a bit too neatly.

I’d also like to point out, that I’m not crazy about the whole “all of these books are set in NYC” thing — this one was too!

Spoilers below:

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The description references a shocking revelation about her older brother: he is accused of date-rape and is sent home from college. I thought it was interesting to see how this affected not only Virginia, but also her parents. Personally, I thought it was well-handled, and did a nice job of showing how sexual assault affects more than just the principals. I had never really thought about what it must be like for the family of someone accused of a crime like this. As you can imagine, their emotions ran the gamut, and even now I get a little bit of a knot in my stomach thinking about how I might cope in a similar situation. Probably not as well as I might hope.