Tag Archive | bullying

Disappearance of Emily H., by Barrie Summy (book review) – secrets sparkle, uncovered threats?

book cover of The Disppearance of Emily H. by Barrie Summy published by Delacorte PressSparkling puffs of others’ memories,
easy to find, irresistible to grab,
but what if the memory is filled with threats?

Raine has inherited the family ability to read and replay others’ memories from the “sparklies” that remain, especially after strong emotions. Grabbing a sparkly looks too much like trying to take something, so her grandmother warned her against it.

But Raine’s fingers are just itching to get more after she discovers that she’s now living in the house that Emily H. vanished from…

For a peek into the mystery facing Raine in her new town and middle school, enjoy this book trailer created by the Mooresville Public Library (Indiana):

If you could access memories just by touching them, would you?

Book info: The Disappearance of Emily H. / Barrie Summy.  Delacorte Press, 2015.   [author site]  [publisher site]  [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: If eighth grader Raine had followed advice to not pick up ‘sparklies’ – shards of others’ memories that she can view and replay – then she’d never have discovered the mean girls’ conspiracy at her new school or looked into the fate of Emily who lived in this same house and disappeared…

After yet another move with her mom, Raine didn’t expect to make a new friend on the first day of school (homeschooled Shirlee has a hard time tuning out Jennifer and her mean girls, but Raine is a pro). Having to prove her cross-country running to Coach is a given, but snooty Jennifer’s behavior at practices is over the limit.

Everyone at school is still talking about the recent disappearance for Emily, who was frequently picked on by the mean girls, but the police have few leads. The few sparklies that Raine has quietly grabbed at school hint that the mean girls know more than they’re telling.

Unexplained fires keep flaring up – is there a firebug in the small New York town?
Raine’s nosy neighbor accuses her of sneaking back into the house nightly – but it isn’t her…
Does she dare search for more memories sparkling on Jennifer’s belongings to discover the truth?

Bullying and belonging, friendship and family – middle school with a dangerous mystery! (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

P is photo-vigilante now herself Endangered, by Lamar Giles (book review)

book cover of Endangered by Lamar Giles published by Harper TeenClick! A compromising photo.
Click! A clever caption.
Click! Posted for all to see and mock and condemn.

Biracial ‘Panda’ makes herself unremarkable at school, submitting just-average work in digital photography class, ensuring that no one can link her to the scandalous photo-blog showing the worst sides of hypocritical students who pose as model citizens.

But someone knows that Panda is Gray Scales, and that someone has decided that mere cyberbullying isn’t enough punishment for those students at all!

This sometimes-uncomfortable look at the fine line between justice and revenge will be published on Tuesday, April 21, so ask for it at your local library or independent bookstore.

Book info: Endangered / Lamar Giles.  Harper Teen, 2015.  [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher via Edelweiss/Abovethetreeline.

My book talk: Anonymously using her photo skills to expose classmates whose fine reputations belie their true bad behavior, Lauren finds herself being stalked by ‘Admirer’ who threatens to unmask the Virginia teen’s identity.

Mocked in elementary school for her appearance, Lauren was comforted by the panda stories told by her German mom and black father. But her chosen nickname of Panda stems from an attack on her reputation in early high school, which started her quest for justice through her anonymous photo-blog.

Even her best friend Ocie (nicknamed by Panda for her OCD tendencies) doesn’t know that Gray Scales is Panda; they boo the good-on-surface baddies who are exposed there and cheer for their half-black selves (Mei is half-Chinese).

When Panda’s latest post results in more than just the predatory teacher being fired – because the “Admirer” who discovered Gray Scales’ identity physically attacks the girl involved – the stakes suddenly get much, much higher.

Deleting the Gray Scales website doesn’t stop the Admirer…
Listening to the ideas of the first guy she shamed doesn’t seem so bad…
Going from overlooked at school to being held responsible for a death she didn’t instigate is awful…

When does a quest for justice become an excuse to attack? The Admirer makes sure everything is final!  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Not Otherwise Specified, by Hannah Moskowitz (book review) – no dance, no daring, no joy?

book cover of Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz published by Simon PulseDancing her heart out,
Not worried about fitting in (except on stage),
but trying to change what’s impossible to change…

The heart and soul of a tall, willowy ballerina is firmly implanted into Etta’s short and curvaceous body. When the ballet director notes that she stands out too much in the cookie-cutter corps de ballet line, Etta spirals out of the elite dance troupe and into eating disorder group.

Happy book birthday to Not Otherwise Specified!

I just adore Etta and everything she does to rescue herself, to help her friends get to a better place, and to realize her dreams. This book isn’t just ‘checking off the boxes’ for diversity in ethnicity, sexual orientation, talents, and social situations – it turns a few expected tropes sideways, reverses others, and brings us a wholly unique story worth a standing ovation.

How tight do you hold on to your dreams?

Book info: Not Otherwise Specified / Hannah Moskowitz. Simon Pulse, 2015. [author site]  [publisher site]  Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: Giving up food so she’d fit in the ballet corps, Etta doesn’t want to give up anything else, including a petite new friend who inspires the buxom, black, bisexual Nebraska native to audition one more time for an elite arts school.

At eating disorder group, curvy and talented Etta meets wispy, fragile Bianca who doesn’t eat (at all) and sings like an angel born on Broadway. Like every musical theater geek, Etta wants to be in New York City, dreams of attending performing arts school there, but has never made it past first round of tryouts.

Now, the principal of her private girls’ school recommends Etta for auditions. Wee Bianca, her equally talented big brother James, and his cute best friend Mason are trying out, too. Maybe concentrating on auditions will take her mind off the escalating bullying by the lesbian clique at school (for dating a guy…).

Hyper-religious parents won’t accept a gay son,
So-called friends won’t accept that a person can change.
And Etta won’t let little Bee starve herself to death, won’t let her own fears keep her from auditioning for Brentwood, won’t let the bullies force her to limit her life.

D is Dane & dads & other Dead Ends, by Erin Jade Lange (book review)

book cover of Dead Ends by Erin Jade Lange published by BloomsburyNo dad – no big deal or no rest until he’s found?

If his single mom would start cashing in her winning lottery tickets instead of framing them, Dane wouldn’t be the poor kid in school, so ready with his fists.

If Billy D’s dad had stayed with his family, everything would be wonderful, believes the teen with Down syndrome.

If Dane and Billy D had listened to their friend Seely, they wouldn’t be in trouble as they hunted for Billy D’s dad – big, big trouble.

Listening to Dane explain everyday sayings to so-literal Billy D makes for some light moments in this very tense story.

When do you decide that it’s time to finally stop searching for something?

Book info: Dead Ends / Erin Jade Lange. Bloomsbury, 2013. [author site]  [publisher site]   Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My book talk: A school-assigned partnership leads to a road trip with huge consequences for bully Dane and bullied Billy D.

If walking the new special ed kid to school will keep Dane from being expelled for fighting, he’ll do it. If showing Dane and Seely the clues in his atlas will help him find his dad again, Billy D will do it.

Dane gave up on finding his dad long ago, Seely’s two dads have taught her freedom and responsibility, and Billy D is utterly certain that his dad left those atlas clues so he can be found.

After traveling with Seely uncover more information, Billy D insists that Dane take him one more place to look for his dad… but forgets to share some vital information.

Expectations, high and low, create anxious situations for these teens and their families – will all their searching just lead to Dead Ends?  (One of 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Fish in the Sky, by Fridrik Erlings (fiction) – everything changes at age 13?

book cover of Fish in the Sky by Fridrik Erlings published by CandlewickMath on Monday mornings,
Bullies in the gym shower,
Long-legged girls who ignore him…

Why would 13-year-old Josh want to be at school when he could be nestled into an almost-cave on the rocky seashore, wondering when his dad will come back again from his cargo ship voyages, when his strange cousin will move out, when anything in his life will make sense?

As his own translator from the Icelandic, Erlings captures this teen boy’s voice and ever-circling worries perfectly. Listen to the first three minutes of the novel here, as Josh wakes up on his thirteenth birthday and finds his long-traveling father’s gift.

Another great book from Candlewick Press to pick up at your local library or independent bookstore.

What would you do with a stuffed falcon, staring at you from its tree branch perch those black eyes?

Book info: Fish in the Sky / Fridrik Erlings; translated from Icelandic by the author. Candlewick Press, 2012. [about the author] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk: A stuffed falcon? That’s what Dad sent Josh from the ocean freighter for his 13th birthday? Yet another thing that’s not understandable in his universe, like why the girls allow themselves to be chased at recess or how no one stands up to the bullies who throw underwear in the showers after PE or why Mom lets his 17-year-old girl cousin move in with them.

She’s in trouble back home, this Trudy, and Josh is sure that it won’t be better at his house with her here. Mom has transformed his huge walk-in closet into Trudy’s room, so this girl who’s practically a stranger has to walk through his room to get anywhere!

School is even worse than being home: the agony of morning math with the headmaster, the giggling girls who send knowing looks but never walk with him during break time, the torture of PE class and the mean locker-room monitor and the bullies who pick on everyone different than them.

Josh decides that he’s learned enough for now and forges a series of excuse notes to stay away from seventh grade; if Mom weren’t so busy with two jobs, she’d do it, right?

How will Josh and Peter work on their film about falcons with Trudy barging in all the time?
And a growing guy needs his sleep; doesn’t that girl ever turn down her music?
Wait, it’s too quiet in Trudy’s space – has she snuck out after promising mom that she’d behave?
Dad’s calling from shore – why isn’t he on the cargo ships, like always?<

The confusion of becoming a teen and trying to understand other people wanders through Josh’s days and dreams in this coming-of-age novel, translated from the Icelandic by the author.