Review Hacklet: Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres ~ A harrowing teenage memoir


Sister & Brother…..before the &h1t hit the fan

Verdict/Summary: Being a teenager is hard enough, but Julia and David Scheeres really had it rough. Readers will empathize with seventeen year old Julia’s honest voice as she remembers her strict upbringing in rural Indiana, her horribly dysfunctional childhood, her traumatic introduction to sex, her conflict between wanting to fit in at school and her desire to defend her beloved adopted black brother David from racial taunts, and her stubbornness of spirit after being sent to a totalitarian religious reform school in the Dominican Republic.

1 heartIt’s really hard to put this one down because you want to know if Julia and David turn out OK. Continue reading

Review Hacklet: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell ~ Love with high stakes

Q: Could this cover be more perfect?  A: No. No, it could not.

Q: Could this cover be more perfect?
A: No. No, it could not.

Verdict: An 80’s-nostalgic love story between two outcasts that can be easily appreciated by teens (and older) today. It has Romeo and Juliet undertones and references, but manages to avoid cliché or senseless tragedy.

Perfect for: Readers who love tales of romance between relateable, realistic characters; Aficionados of alternative 80s music and 80s comic books.

Summary: Set in Omaha in 1986, Eleanor, a new student at her high school, is instantly deemed to be a mockable outcast due to her unruly mop of red hair, “fat” body, “weird” clothes, and her redneck stepdad and rundown house. Park is socially in limbo: his dad is a strapping white guy veteran with generations of roots in the area, but his mom is from Korea; usually Park is tolerated or ignored by his classmates, but other times he becomes the target of teasing because of his Asian features.  Park tries his best to exist under the social radar, but when Eleanor ends up as his school bus seatmate, he fears that he will be associated with her and therefore be teased as relentlessly as she is. Over the weeks, however, Park’s empathy for Eleanor begins to outweigh his fears and he begins to make small gestures of friendship.  Eventually the two find that they have more in common with each other than anyone else they know. But can they let a relationship develop in the hostile social environment of their high school? And can Eleanor risk the wrath of her controlling, alcoholic stepdad?

Continue reading

Review Hacklet: Getting over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald ~ a fluffy antidote to hipster lit

She's covering her face for the shame of crushing on a pretentious hipster

She’s covering her face for the shame of crushing on a pretentious hipster

Verdict: An entertaining read. It’s like a palate-cleansing sorbet: it’s not the main course but especially if you’ve been reading more demanding books, it will lighten you up for the next challenge.

Perfect for: Fans of Sarah Dessen’s romances who want something more funny and even more light and frothy.

Summary: Sadie has been in love with her friend Garrett for, like, ever. But while he is away at camp, Sadie has an epiphany: she’s been wasting her life following Garrett around like a lost puppy. So she begins a program of detoxing herself of her crush in preparation for his return, with varying successes. Meanwhile, without Garrett around, Sadie makes some new friends and even resuscitates her friendship with her former BFF and neighbor, Kayla.

1 heart This book pulled a fast one on me! At first I was like, why does Sadie have the hots for Garrett? He’s such a pretentious hipster and she’s acting like one too. Am I supposed to like these people? But then Sadie has her epiphany and as she detoxes she starts to see Garrett for who he is, ie someone who would make Sadie feel embarrassed to watch Bring It On and Clueless (for shame!). When Sadie finally pulls out her copies of these DVDs I cheered. And chuckled. I thought McDonald did a great job showing how a crush can give you such tunnel-vision about a person and how easy it is to lose your own bearings when you like someone. It was nice to see Sadie struggling with how to show an interest in a guy with keeping her own identity.

I also loved seeing Sadie reconnect with her old friend Kayla, whom she abandoned as being “too regular people” when she fell in with Garrett. After just seeing all of Freaks and Geeks for the first time, it made me think of Lindsay and Millie and how awesome it was when Lindsay finally rediscovers what a good friend Millie is. The book also made me think about how Lindsay finally realizes that she doesn’t have a crush on sometimes-poseur Daniel.

1 scissors I mean, whatever, it was predictable and fluffy. It was in First Person Present Tense (*sigh*)(boo). I guess the only thing that really bothered me was that Sadie’s mom seemed a little bit two-dimensional. But I don’t think it really matters. This is a popsicle book, perfect for summer.  Garrett Delaney wouldnever want to read a book like this, which is recommendation enough 🙂

Review addendum: I forgot to talk about the horrible, twisted ending to Every Day


This is a spoiler, but I forgot to talk about the sicko ending to the whole thing. [Spoilers]:So Rhiannon makes it clear she doesn’t think it’s going to work. And A finally realizes A is being selfish and unrealistic. That part is good. But this is how A “solves” the problem. In the last chapter A wakes up as this really nice, funny, great guy named Alexander. And A thinks, well Alexander is the soooooo great, just like me (*eye roll*)! So A convinces Rhiannon to come over to Alexander’s house and A-inside-Alexander shows Rhiannon a super good time. The two cuddle in Alexander’s badass treehouse. Just before midnight, A suggests that when Alexander wakes up the next morning entangled in Rhiannon’s arms (a girl Alexander has never met!) then the two of them can carry on and have a great relationship. A relationship manipulated into being by A. So A is basically “giving” Rhiannon to Alexander, and Alexander is supposed to instantly fall in love with Rhiannon because she is apparently SO AMAZING.  IS THAT THE GROSSEST THING YOU HAVE EVER HEARD???

Review Hacklet: Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley ~ When One Reads a Unique Story

Do you like this cover? It confuses me.

Do you like this cover? It confuses me.

Introducing: the Hacklet!

It takes me quite some time to put together a full posting.  Here are my notes for the next full Hack for David Levithan’s Every Day:

A lot of notes can mean I really loved it or had serious problems with it.

A lot of notes can mean I really loved it or had serious problems with it. Can you guess which this one will be?

When I am busy with work and life and barely having time to read (*sob*), I’ve often just written a pithy review on goodreads and moved on. Or sometimes, I just don’t have a lot to say about a book.  So why not post shorter reviews RIGHT HERE? I shall call them: Hacklets. I’ve even added this as a category over there on the right-hand navigation for your future reference.  Hopefully this new format will mean I can post with more regularity.

On to the Hacklet for Where Things Come Back plus a bonus anecdote and side conversation about ebooks…

Verdict: One of the most unpredictable YA books I’ve ever read. Continue reading