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Looking for Alaska by John Green July 15, 2009

Posted by Lisa in Teen Book Reviews, Young Adult Book Reviews.
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Looking For Alaska

John Green

New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 2005

ISBN: 9780132402511

Age: 15+


16 year old Miles Halter enrolls in the Culver Creek Boarding school with the hope of starting over with a new life.  Miles is smart guy who likes to memorize famous last words.   Miles begins his first few days at the new school with high hopes of making friends and finding “the Great Perhaps.” 

At the new school, Miles meets Colonel his roommate and Alaska a messed up girl full of attitude.  Hanging out with the Colonel and Alaska, Miles experiences many firsts, a girlfriend, a kiss, a drink, and breaking the rules.  Tragedy strikes the school, when Alaska is killed in a car accident.   Alaska’s death affected both Miles and the Colonel deeply.  They blamed themselves for not stopping Alaska from driving while drunk in the middle of the night.    

This story is both entertaining and sad.  I laughed my head off at the witty dialogue between the characters and the “life lessons” that Alaska taught Miles and his first real girlfriend.  The themes in this story include friendship, love, loss, and grief.  Each of the characters has their own personalities that teens can relate to.  I enjoyed reading Looking for Alaska.  This is a great for teens 15 and up.  The cover was little boring for me with just the smoke blowing on the black background.  At first I wasn’t quite sure what the smoke was on the cover.


Someday this Pain will be Useful to You by Peter Cameron July 15, 2009

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someda this pain






Someday this Pain will be Useful to You

Peter Cameron

New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007

ISBN:  9780374309893

Age: 18+


James Sveck is a confused 18 year on the brink of adulthood.  Living in New York City with Gillian his sister and divorced mother, James searches for his direction in his life.  James is undecided about going to Browns University and has no idea what his sexual orientation may be.   He is drawn to fellow employee, John, at his mother’s Gallery where he works.  James makes a mistake of pretending to be another person on an internet social network.  John unknowingly asks James out to learn that James is the interesting male that John has been chatting with online.  Furious with James “joke” John threatens to quit working at the Gallery.   James is fired from the gallery by his mother for the infraction.  After being fired for the infraction by his mother James takes off to see his grandmother.  James often relies on his grandmother for advice about his problems. 

I wasn’t all that impressed with this story.  The style of writing was all dialogue or run on descriptions that made a boring story.  It took me awhile to figure out the plot because I was too busy trying to figure out what the paragraphs was actually saying.  This book is a challenging read and some college bound readers may find the story interesting, but I do not recommend this book at all.  The cover itself depicts a young man in pain with a white background.  The cover may attract the attention of readers that hold an interest for the topic, but most teens wouldn’t be interested in this type of book.  Also, after reading the first few pages most teens would be bored out of their minds.

Nana V.1 by Ai Yazawa July 15, 2009

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Nana Volume 1







Nana V. 1

Ai Yazawa

San Francisco, Ca: VIZ Media, 2005

ISBN:  1421501082

Age:  15-18


Nana is a graphic novel about two 20 year old girls who share the same name.  Nana Komatsu is an attractive young woman who has bad luck with the men she dates.   Nana Komatsu follows her latest “boyfriend” to Tokyo after he is transferred there for work.  In Tokyo Nana Komatsu found love with a young man named Shoji.  Volume one ends with Nana and Shoji having a long distant relationship as Nana Komatsu works to earn enough money to go to college. 

Nana Osaki is the opposite of Nana Komatsu.  Nana Osaki is a confident outgoing woman who dreams of becoming Japan’s number one rock star.   Nana Osaki lives with her band mate and boyfriend, Ren Honjo.  She heads off to Tokyo to pursue her dream after Ren is offered a position in another band.  Nana Osaki’s and Ren’s relationship ends after 1 year and 3 months of living together. 

Volume one of Nana begins with an introduction to the two Nana’s who will eventually meet up in Tokyo and become best friends. This graphic novel wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  It was interesting to read about the two Nanas.  The illustrations are very helpful in drawing the reader into the story.  This story is about friendship, heartache, and love. 

The cover of the graphic Novel is different than many of the teen novels that I have seen.  The cover is of a girls sitting in front of a window in an impartment reading a newspaper.  The cover is attractive for an older teen because of the mature illustrations on the cover.

Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger July 15, 2009

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Hard Love

Ellen Wittlinger

Aladdin Paperbacks, 1999

ISBN: 068984154X

Age: 15-17


Hard love is a story about John an angry 16 year old who has walled himself off from caring about people since his parents’ divorce.  After the divorce John’s dad is more interested in his many “girlfriends” than spending time with his son.  John’s mother went through a very long period of depression.  John’s lack of a relationship with his parents has caused John to stop trusting people.  John builds a wall around his emotions as a way to protect himself from being hurt.  John describes himself as someone without feelings. 

John life begins to change after he meets Marisol, a “Puerto Rican-Cuban-Yankee-lesbian. Marisol is all about the truth.  She is a self-confident girl who isn’t afraid of showing people her true self.  She writes a Zine Called “Escape Velocity which tells it like it is.  John and Marisol friendship grows until John falls hard for Marisol.   John knows that Marisol doesn’t love him in the same way, but he can’t stop from loving her. 

This book is right on the mark with developing the teen characters.  As I read this book, I thought, “Yes, that is a teenager alright.”   Ellen Wittlinger did an excellent job of writing a book from a teen’s point of view.  The Zines and story really made the characters’ lives and problems real.   I felt for John when Marisol rejected him.  I really hoped they had gotten together in the end.   The themes in the book include developing one’s identity, friendship, and trust.  The cover is okay.  It is really bland and not all that colorful or exciting.  However, it does go along with the lonely tone of the book.  Teens will definitely want to read this book.  It connects with the many problems and issues that they face each day.

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta July 14, 2009

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Jellicoe Road








The Jellicoe Road

Melina Marchetta

HarperTeen, 2008

ISBN: 9780061431838

Age: 16-18


The Jellicoe Road is about Taylor Markham who is a student at the Jellico School.  At this school Taylor becomes the leader of her school in a three way territory war against the townies and cadets.  The three groups follow rules and traditions set up years before by an unknown group to battle and negotiate to gain more territories for their own team. 

During the time of the territory wars that lasts six weeks which is the time that the cadets stay for camp in the area.  Taylor meets her match with Jonah Griggs, the cadets’ leader.  Jonah, Taylor, and the leader from the townies soon befriend one another through the conflict.  As these three leaders come together they learn of another story of five young friends from the school, townies, and the cadets that come together to create a history that will meet up with Taylor and her friends/adversaries. . 

These five friends are at the heart of the territory wars.  They are the ones that began the rules and traditions that Taylor, the cadets, and townies follow every year for six weeks.   Taylor’s soon learns of the connection and tragedy of the five friends to her own life through reading a manuscript that her guardian had left for Taylor to read. 

This book is wonderful.  I enjoyed reading the story, although it was difficult to keep up with the plot because the story kept jumping back and forth between the past and present through the manuscript that Taylor was reading.  It became easier once I understood that the manuscript was a story of the five friends from the past.  I definitely want to read this story again.