Friends With Boys

11389398I was hooked by this graphic novel in the beginning. A contemporary story about a nerdy girl who can see ghosts has so much potential. I am always looking for graphic novels or comics that can appeal to young teens and/or have well written female characters.

Unfortunately I found this one to be too didactic. It was clearly from an adult’s perspective and felt like a story a parent would tell a child not an authentic young person’s voice.

I liked the art and there were elements I enjoyed but I feel like if I use them with my teen book club I might be too obviously teaching a lesson.  Maybe it would be better in a school setting, to discuss bullying or peer pressure. It just didn’t quite make it for me as something  most teens would fully enjoy in their free time.

The Voice Inside My Head

cover artS.J. Laidlaw’s The Voice Inside My Head is a mystery that’s packed full of  emotions. The novel has adventure, comedy, and a deep sadness.

Luke’s quest to find his missing sister results in him getting to know her better than ever. He sees what she would have been like if she wasn’t burdened with all the responsibilities of caring for him and his parents. His love for her, and unwillingness to give up on finding what happened to her drives the reader to NEED to know too. You can’t put the book down without knowing.

Pat is the absent character, who we get to know without truly meeting. Everyone and everything in the novel is framed by their relation to her. She is adored by some, and despised by others, but everyone feels passionately about her disappearance

For a book  primarily about the loss of a loved one, with a heavy focus on alcoholism, The Voice Inside My Head is a light, enjoyable read. The characters speak in diction that allows you to hear them as individuals. There are quirky, funny people making their way through this serious story.

Luke has internal dialogue with Pat that could cause some debate for readers. Is it his subconscious feeling guilty about the way things were between them? Is it her spirit speaking to him? There’s no definite answer but we learn a lot about their relationship either way.

Family dynamics are contrasted on numerous occasions. Luke’s dysfunctional family makes Jamie’s look wonderful, but then Luke is grateful that he has more than Zach.

I look forward to discussing the characters and the issues they face in my book club this summer. This book has been selected as an honour book for the CLA Young Adult Book Award.

The Whole Truth

I received Kit Pearson’s novel The Whole Truth from the publisher as a submission for the young adult book award I’m on the jury of.

I’m conflicted about what age this book is best for. The character is young, and the writing has an old fashioned formality that I think will appeal to readers of the American Girl/Canadian Girl series. However, the novel deals with complex themes such as morality, the depression, prejudice and religion. I think tweens are probably the ones who will enjoy it the most. This could potentially disqualify it from the award but I did enjoy it and would recommend it to teens who are looking for “clean” such as the Mennonite families I get at the library.

I thought Polly’s denial about what happened to her father and her difficulty understanding her sister’s changing attitudes as she grows up was realistic and well written. Bullying and poverty were dealt with in a serious but not too depressing way. I thought the tiny “romance” subplot was icky due to age difference.