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Devon is the perfect kid: straight A student, team leader on the soccer field, and responsible daughter. So, what makes a girl like this hide a  pregnancy, deliver IT on a dirty bathroom floor, and wrap IT in a garbage sack to make IT disappear? 

The novel begins after the baby’s cries from the
dumpster attract the attention of a neighbor walking his dog in the early morning hours. The baby survives but a manhunt for the “coldhearted psycho” who placed her there leads to Devon. No one cares who Devon was before she placed her baby in the dumpster. All they care about its after.
 
The ending to this novel salvaged the entire book for me. It wasn’t that I couldn’t empathize with Devon, or I felt like she should have been demonized for her actions. Many readers can’t get past what Devon did to realize the true message of the novel. For me, the plot seemed very stagnant and repetitive until the scenes with the hearing that decided whether or not she would be tried as an adult. Once this portion of the novel progressed, the plot developed depth and Devon was humanized, allowing the reader to develop a connection. Until this point, she was a very two-dimensional character that the reader could care less what happened to her. 

Efaw uses a nonjudgmental voice to present
the story of a young girl who committed a horrible crime. This novel shows  readers that there are reasons behind actions. Maybe we don’t understand them, but that doesn’t invalidate them. Also, just because we can empathize with someone doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be held accountable. Sometimes, however, we need to know what happened before, so that we know how to react after



 
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What happens when 50 Teen Dream beauty contestants' plane crashes, and a handful
of survivors find themselves stranded on a deserted island with no food, no drinkable water, and no beauty products? Think Lord of the Flies meets
Miss Congeniality. As the days tick by, and hope of rescue diminishes, the survivors begin to realize that there is more to them than being pretty: they learn that they are intelligent and resourceful, and that the Corporation has been feeding them an image that they readily accepted and perpetuated. It's not until some sexy pirates show up and mysterious men-in-black that the beauty contestants start to wonder if they're really alone on the island and if their perception of "reality" is being manipulated for evil purposes. 

The best way that I can describe this novel is: too much.  There were too many characters, too many subplots, too many underlying themes...just too much. In fact, even as I write this review, I can't remember all of the characters who survived the plane crash because there were too many. In fact, the author didn't even bother naming several of them: Miss Ohio, etc. As a result, their development was superficial along with the political message (gltbq, racism, abstinence, feminism) each represented. Granted, the dialogue was laugh-out-loud funny in several places, but it got old after 200 pages when the plot refused to move.

Basically, I was going to give this book 2 STARS after reading 250 pages because it became irritating and monotonous; however, if the reader can stick through the end, Bray does a good job of redeeming the storyline. This book would have been better with fewer characters who were better developed. In effect, by doing this, the themes of anti-Corporation would have been more effectively communicated and addressed.

 
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Wade has a secret that is unforgivable. First of all, his name isn't really Wade. Second, he murdered another child when he was  nine. All he remembers is tossing gas on the kid, flicking open the lighter,  then seeing the flames. After several years in a mental facility, the court says  that he's ready to reenter society, but society doesn't want him. Painted as a  monster, his family must move and assume a new identity to protect themselves.  Unfortunately, the bad thing about secrets is that they always seem to make  themselves known.

Gail Giles does a masterful job of presenting a crime  that could have been ripped from the headlines, and showing the mportance of forgiveness and redemption. She uses the characters to discuss the difference  between accountability and guilt to show that one mistake, no matter how fatal,  should not define a person if they are willing to learn from it. She also shows  that it's never too late for a fresh start and that hatred feeds the  self-destructive ghost more than any person ever could.  



 
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Holling Hoodhood finds himself spending unwanted one-on-one time with his nemisis teacher, Mrs. Baker, all because he's the only Protestant in a predominantly Jewish and Catholic town. Set in 1967, Holling and Mrs. Baker's relationship evolves over the course of a school year as they study Shakespeare together, chase vicious rats together, visit Yankee stadium together, and provide that little bit of encouragement to one another when life shows its cruelty.

This is a beautiful story of how one teacher made a difference; however, I tend to agree with other reviews that don't think middle school students would like it. To connect to this novel, the reader must connect with history - Vietnam, hippies, racism, civil rights, and gender roles. If students don't know/understand the historical context of this novel, a lot of the themes will be lost.   flag

 
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Morbidly fascinating. Those two words encompass this novel.

Joey is an average sixteen-year-old kid who lives in Chicago with his single-mom. When she meets an untimely death, he gets shipped off to a dad he's never met and a small town that isn't welcoming to outsiders. It doesn't take him long to realize that there is something "off" about Harnett, his dad: disappearing for days at a time, only "working" at night, and the constant smell of rotting corpses. Harnett is a grave robber.

Not only does Joey have to deal with the shock of the loss of his mother and a dad who robs dead bodies, but he also becomes the focus of ridicule and cruelty from teachers and students at his new high school. He is subjected to physical and emotional abuse as well as isolation until Foley - a fellow outcast - reaches out to him. Armed with a new friend, Joey feels like things are looking up until an incident occurs that throws him over the edge. He decides that he's going to join the family business.

Begrudgingly, Harnett tutors Joey about the history and purpose of Diggers as well as the unwritten code that they live by: be invisible. Violation of this code results in death. Unfortunately, one of the Diggers has gone rogue and decides it's time to expose the rest of the pack. He's slowly picking off each Digger until he reaches the most powerful, Harnett.

This book has beautiful descriptions that make the reader feel as though she is watching each scene unfold. Daniel Kraus did an excellent job of weaving Joey's frustrations at school with his frustrations with his father. Although the plot moves very slowly, the history and painstaking detail found within this novel makes it worth the patience to read it. I'm still not sure what to think about it because it is different from anything that I have ever read. I can't say that it's a bullying book - even though bullying is a huge issue; I can't say it's a suspense thriller - even though there is a morbid twist; I can't say that it's a book about rite-of-passage - even though Joey learns some valuable lessons. Honestly, you just need to read it for yourself to decide.

 
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If a reader is looking for a book that has it all, this is the one. It's full of consensual incest (brother/sister, cousins), molestation, reckless and crude sexual acts, incestuous rape, porn, and enough sexual experimentation to make me wonder if some of those acts are even possible. Oddly, that wouldn't have annoyed me so much if there was a point. Somewhere within all of this, there was supposed to be a plot. I've finished the book, and I still haven't found it. As a result, I feel like the author simply threw in as much taboo material as possible in hopes that it would carry the entire novel, which is simply poor writing and poor taste. He needs to give his readers (young adult, especially) more credit.

I picked up this book because 1.) I love Byron, Keats, and Shelly, 2.) I found the teenage twist advertised on the book jacket clever, and 3.) it seemed like the plot would have a lot of fun allusions that would keep it moving. Well, the only thing from the book jacket that was true was 1.) Shelly drowns and 2.) Byron and Keats fulfill her last wish by spreading her ashes. Otherwise, this is a book about Gordon Byron, his narcissism and sociopathic tendencies, and his sexual conquests. That's about it. And, those three characteristics are presented so randomly that I found myself wondering on multiple occassions what the point of the story was.

Would I suggest this novel to someone? No. I'm pretty open-minded, and I couldn't even find redeeming value in it. The basic premise of the story is a great idea, but it gets overshadowed with Keats' hidden attraction to Byron as well as the fact that the reader doesn't feel any connection to the three characters - Keats, Byron, and Shelly.  

 
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Vera Dietz has spent her life flying under the radar, trying to survive high school. Everything was going smoothly until her best friend, Charlie Kahn, got mixed up with Jenny Flick and started delving into things better left in the dark. When Charlie tries to break away, he ends up dead, accused of unmentionable crimes, and Vera is the only one who can clear his name. The only problem? She hates him, and isn't sure if she wants to help the boy who tried to destroy her life. But, Charlie is a persistent ghost, and he's not taking "no" for an answer.

This novel deals with issues of substance abuse and isolation that are  prevalent to young adults. The plotline is intriguing and unique while the conflicts are very real. I found myself being pulled into the story by Vera's complexities that stemmed from her parents' "issues" as well as her uncertainty about herself, and she helped me remember the frustration and craziness that makes up the social structure of most high schools.