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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.


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.

The First Part Last by Angela Johnson May 16, 2009

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5Q * 4P * J * S
The First Part Last 
Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, Ages 12 up. 131p.
by Angela Johnson

Find A Copy:

Martins Fery Public Library


Bobby, a 16 year old, talks about his experiences as a teenage father. The book is written in first person narrative and swings back and forth between then and now as Bobby talks about his life before becoming a father and after his daughter is born. Bobby who love his daughter Nia is determined to raise her despite the tremendous responsiblities in raising a child.  Bobby has many issues to deal with as a young father.  The book provides the reader with many life issues about being a teenage parent.

The cover with a picture of Bobby holding his daughter draws a reader in and teenagers in 9th – 12th grade will have much to think about as they read this story about life, love, loss of innocence, and teenage parenting.   



How I live Now by Meg Rosoff May 9, 2009

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How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

How I Live Now/Meg Rosoff New York : Wendy Lamb Books, c2004; 194p


 0385746776 (trade)

038590908X (library binding)



5Q * 4P * J * S

Daisy, the narrator of the story, is 15 years old when she is sent to live with her cousins, Piper, Edmond, Isaac, and Osbert in England. Daisy and her cousins ends up having to take care of themselves as Daisy’s Aunt leaves on a mission of peace to Oslo for a peace summit. England is attacked and occupied by an unknown enemy while Daisy and her cousins live day to day in their own “magical” world without adults. All is perfect, except, Daisy and Edmond fall in love despite being cousins.

Then the war intrudes on the cousins and they are separated from one another. Daisy and Piper is sent away to live in a distant village while the boys are kept near their home. Daisy and Piper are determined to be reunited with their family but they soon learn the realities of war as they try to survive on their journey back home and to Edmond and Isaac. The intrusion of the war, the need for Survival, and the responsibility for caring for Piper helps Daisy to grow from a self-centered disgruntled teen to a more mature person. Daisy begins to cope with her Anorexia and other problems when simple survival becomes more important than refusing to eat while others are starving.

The style of the story is wonderful. The first part of the book is written in a unique way that make the reader feel as if Daisy is telling the story while sitting in the same room with the reader. Later, the style changes to a more traditional style of the written word with quotes. This change between the spoken and written word provides the reader with the sense of time passing and Daisy growing up between the two parts of the book.

The book is wonderful, funny, romatic , and tragic at the same time.  It keeps readers at the edge of their seats wanting to know what happens next. I simply couldn’t put the book down. I wanted to know if Daisy and Piper were going to find their cousins and what was going to happen to Daisy’s and Edmond’s love after the war ended.  The narrative conversational writing style of the book was very powerful and made the story seem real.  However, the lack of details about the unknown enemy left a great deal of questions.  I kept wondering how the war started, who started it, and who was the enemy.  It seems that the war’s purpose in the story was to set the scene for the story of Daisy’s and Edmond’s romance and for the changes that occured in Daisy during her journey with Piper back to the farm. 

This story will appeal to teens between 13-17 years old. However, the cover needs some work. The cover is boring and doesn’t grab your attention. The cover may not excite a teenager; however, the story is just the type of story that many teens would love. It has all of the themes, love, war, suspense, survival, and loss that teens love to read about.