Review: The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab ~ Sister/Sister Part ONE

I really want to make a "Sister Act" pun but this book deserves better

I really want to make a “Sister Act” pun but this book deserves better

Only one element needs hacking

Only one element needs hacking

  Verdict: How many teen novels can you think of that explore the spiritual concept of “grace”? Or indeed address matters of spirituality at all without seeming, well, preachy? The Opposite of Hallelujah is unique in that it takes a teen’s spiritual development as seriously as it tackles issues about a teen’s romantic and family relationships. This is not a perfect book, but it thematically is a refreshing one to read.

Perfect for: Thoughtful readers who want realistic fiction with a unique perspective and plot. Readers who like reading about family relationships as much as they like reading about dating.

SummaryEleventh grader Caro is a dedicated student who, after a rocky time in middle school, finally has established a good reputation, good friends, and is even starting to party and date some boys. But she feels that her whole world is threatened when she learns that her 27 year old sister, Hannah, is returning to live with her family.  Caro barely remembers her sister, because eight years ago, Hannah entered a reclusive convent many miles away.   Continue reading

Review: Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins ~ A PG Look at Child Soldiers in Burma

I wish the publisher had been brave enough to show Burmese children on the cover instead of "whitewashing" them into shadows

I wish the publisher had been brave enough to show Burmese children on the cover instead of “white-washing” them into shadows

Only one element needs hacking

Only one element needs hacking

Verdict: This look into the life of child soldiers in Burma (aka Myanmar) without all the gritty, traumatizing realities of war makes this book appropriate for younger readers (age 10 and up). As it is fiction, the book is more an allegory about keeping one’s humanity in an inhumane situation than it is an accurate portrayal of child soldiers. It’s a simple yet rewarding story. Recommended.

Perfect for: Younger YA readers or readers curious about the life of child soldiers, or about other cultures.

Summary: The first section of the book is narrated by Chiko, a bookish fifteen-year-old boy who lives in a major city.  His father, a doctor and scholar, has been in prison for some time for being a suspected enemy of the state for owning English books. Lured downtown by an advertisement that claims the government is recruiting people for teacher-training, Chiko is captured by the army and brought to the jungle to be trained as a soldier. 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

ONE MORE THING

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: Every Day by David Levithan ~ Day 13118: I wasted my day on this book GAH

My love of this cover is in proportion to my dislike of what's inside

My love of this cover is in proportion to my dislike of what’s inside

Unhackable

Unhackable

Verdict: It’s a LitHacker first, y’all, a book that cannot be hacked. Nothing can save this book from itself, except for it being completely rewritten. I was intrigued by the description of the book’s unique premise, but ultimately I thought it was actually quite an offensive book. I am going to have to restrain myself with explaining why because I took far too many copious, angry notes as I was reading. Good news for The Help: it is now officially off the hook for being my least favorite book ever read!

Perfect for: Look, I know I’m in the minority here – look at other reviews and you’ll see most people really liked this book. People who like other David Levithan books, people who like romantic comedies, or people who appreciate books having an interesting premise might like Every Day.

Summary: Each day the sixteen-year-old narrator, A, wakes up in a different sixteen-year old’s body. Continue reading