Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

We're smack in the middle of Banned Books Week Sept 24 - Oct 1 2011, and I'm thrilled that one of my all-time favorite YA novels (which often gets challenged for sexuality and profane language) is being made into a film.

Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author(s): Stephen Chbosky

Reading Level/Genre: Young Adult
Paperback:213 pages
ISBN: 9780671027346
Publisher: MTV Books (February 1, 1999)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is probably one of the few books I read that was actually in the YA genre when I was a teen. It's in the format of letters written to a friend from the main character Charlie. As he deals with high school & life in general, he touches you to the bone with his descriptions and explanations of his innermost thoughts and feelings. There are perks to being a wallflower, as Charlie most certainly is, but participation has its infinite possibilities too. I loved it even though its intimacy made me freak out a little, withdrawal, and fear. I "feel infinite" when i think about it:) What "banned books" have made an impact on you?

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Fascinating Oral History: Jacqueline Kennedy In Her Own Words

Today on Hulu I watched the ABC Special with Diane Sawyer about the oral history and subsequent book, Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy
It was completely fascinating to me! I never had any real impression of her at all before, other than as a fashionable first lady. But this interview is so revealing about her personality, her feelings, and how smart she really've gotta watch it if you like history and biographies.
Her understanding of history and what it would take to preserve those moments in time that she witnessed just blows me away. Especially when you consider the fact that she does these interviews just months after the tragic assassination of her husband. I can't imagine what it took for her to be able to do that under such incomprehensible hardship and loss. I always admired her presence of mind to look back to history and take note of Lincoln's funeral and proceedings for President Kennedy's own arrangements. And now after seeing the tv special I look forward to reading the book of the full interviews and learning more about her. I never realized how much of a reader she was, and how her translations and readings of various history books were so primary to her relationship with Jack, nor did I ever know how shy and private a person she had been. It's making her a very easy historical figure to relate to, and now I'm curious to learn more.  
The documentary and book The Fog of War were awesome looks into the period as well, so I highly recommend them if you're interested.

At the very least watch the doc, because Robert McNamara is completely engaging and the Errol Morris film actually won the 2003 Academy Award for Best Feature-Length documentary.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin (and Giveaway!)

Title: All These Things I've Done
Author(s): Gabrielle Zevin
Reading Level/Genre: Young Adult
Hardcover:368 pages
ISBN: 9780374302108
Publisher: Farrar,Straus and Giroux (September 6, 2011)

This is an AMAZING book! At first it was simply very strange, and when I read Anya’s words as she narrates her story I thought to myself, “hmmmm....I don’t know if I can believe these are the thoughts of a 16 year old”. Then you realize she has internalized everything her deceased father ever told her and that she draws comfort from his adages and parrots them even if she doesn't fully understand them yet. It's her trust in her father's love and past guidance that she leans on for support. We see her repeatedly quote him and return again and again to his words to her, no matter how small the advice. The problem is her father was a crime boss and his death has left Anya and her siblings in a precarious situation because of illegal chocolate connections. Chocolate is an illegal substance in 2083! (It's not so crazy/impossible if you think about it lol)

Being so astute and practical, Anya thinks she has little use for typical teen luxuries like romance, dances, or even hobbies. Her free time is instead spent looking after her dying grandmother, her handicapped older brother and her younger sister. She puts all her effort and energy into making sure they are able to stay a family and not separated by child services. What’s interesting is how the book takes place in a future time of 2083 and yet its problems are both contemporary and reminiscent of our history at the same time;the illegal status and bootlegging of chocolate have the vintage feel of the 20s and Prohibition era times. 

Anya does well keeping her head above water and in keeping her family’s survival stable until the most unexpected happens: she falls in love. And not just with any boy, but with the D.A.'s son. He makes her feel what she never let herself feel before and this scares her like nothing else. Why? Because Anya needs always to have a clear head if she is to survive. But love is not logical and that is how her story turns even more interesting.

I didn't know what this book was about when I started it but I loved it and very much looking forward to next in the series! So to spread the word I'm giving away my ARC. All you have to do to enter is click the link and fill out the form.

Contest ends October 1st, 2011. Winner will be notified by email and posted here on blog, and must respond within 48 hours or new winner will be chosen. Open to everyone. Winner will be picked randomly.

Special Thanks to Macmillan Children's Publishing Group at ALA for the opportunity to receive and read the ARC, and even had fresh coffee and chocolate for us:)