This week's theme focuses on girls with issues. I love books that have a strong female character that you can really connect with. Here are a few that I have read recently that I think bring up realistic issues in teens lives and work very hard on resolving issues so that it might someone reading think that there is hope to continue to grow and learn.
Happy Reading to you all!
Mrs. Librarian Lady
The DUFF by Kody Keplinger (Little, Brown, 2010)
Bianca Piper is one tough cookie because her mom has been off on a book tour most of her life and her dad is a struggling recovering alcoholic. She knows that her friends are much prettier than her, but when the infamous girl chasing stud Wesley Rush tells her she’s the DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) of her group she gets so mad she throws her drink on him. Later, she finds herself drawn to Wesley like a magnet to metal and she tells herself she’s just using him to forget about all of her problems. The trouble with that agenda is that she and Wesley spend so much time together that they end up being very close. Bianca can’t tell what’s real and what’s not as the lines of passion and manipulation become comepletely blurred. Can Bianca discover the true meaning of love and finally be happy or will she always end up being the DUFF?
This book is probably one of my favorites that I have read lately. I enjoyed the honesty and realism that Keplinger brings to her writing. She is a young woman herself who has probably had to go through many of the obstacles that Bianca did in the book. Keplinger offers front and center views on how girls see themselves and how it’s ok to be open about sex, birth control, and talk about your real emotions.
I would recommend this book to older teens. I read a review that said it should be recommended to older girls, but I think that guys should read this book too. The book offers many insights on how teens can deal with real life issues.
Goth Girl Rising by Barry Lyga (Houghton Mifflin, 2009)
Goth girl Kyra Sellers is back from the mental hospital after unsuccessfully trying to kill herself. She's mad at everyone in the world because they just don't understand her. She tries to change her appearance by shaving her head bald and wearing white clothes but this only draws more attention to her. After a long thoughtful bout of revenge planning Kyra finally has a break through and starts to realize that life goes on even after you have lost one of the most important people in your entire life. She must come to terms with the death of her mom and move forward with her own life because in reality she is still here, she is still surviving even though deep inside she feels that she just can't carry on any longer. Lyga's Kyra is such a moving character who is so full of anger and remorse that it's hard not to like her. The actions that she takes to destroy Fanboy are definitely not healthy, but her inner thoughts and plans of revenge are very engaging.
This book was very interesting and I think that many teens might be able to relate to Kyra’s confusion and anger. I had hoped that she could move on and get past her anger and revenge or find some kind of cathartic outlet to release her pain, but other than her changing her appearance this did not seem to happen in the story. However, the book offers life lessons that can definitely speak to teens.
By the Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead Julie Anne Peters (Hyperion, 2010)
I picked this book up at the library because I thought the title was very catchy. I found it to be a deep and dark exploration of a troubled teenage girl. Daelyn is a very sad and depressed teen girl. She has gone to many different schools and has been bullied and shamed because she was overweight as a child. She was shoved, kicked, groped by a group of boys and even locked in a custodial closet all day on the first day at a new school. When reading this book you feel the pain and torment that Daelyn has experienced and it makes you feel so sad. I really wished that I could reach out and hold her and try to take her pain away. She has been down in the depths of hell so long that she decides that there is nothing left in life to live for. She has actually tried quite a few times to end her life and recently had almost succeeded. As almost a punishment from nature, Daelyn won't be able to talk for a long while due to an injury that she has caused on her own body.
Now she is on a 24-hour suicide watch and her parents watch her like a hawk, spend almost every waking moment with her, and they do not trust her to ever be alone. Daelyn doesn’t understand that her parents love her and that they are so fearful that they might lose her. She thinks that they would be happier without her and that they could live a better life with her gone. This stems from the disapproval that she received when she was younger. They never seemed to understand why she was overweight or why she was the one always being picked on.
In this story, Daelyn gets connected online to a website called Through the Light. This site allows her to plan and plot her own death date. The thought might seem morbid, but it allows her to connect with other individuals who have gone through similar experiences as she has gone through. The website offers her an outlet that she definitely needs. So she begins her countdown at 23 days and starts to plan her departure. In the meantime, she meets a strange and quirky boy that is always outside by her school while she is waiting for her parents. It turns out that the boy whose name is Santana is homeschooled and he lives right next door to her school. He is also suffering from lymphoma cancer. She forms an interesting friendship with this boy and all along she is trying so hard not to connect with him. This book is fairly short, but highly thought provoking. The author Julie Anne Peters offers a deep insight on the boiling point for victims of bullying and the depths and despair of suicide. A must read for teens everywhere as it offers tips on warning signs to look out for and facts on the prevention of suicide.