Kai and Ginny are neighbors and best friends. Truly inseparable, two peas in a pod, they have spent everyday together since they were toddlers. As they have grown older, Kai and Ginny have planned their lives and futures together; get married, run off to New York, and pursue Kai’s dream of being a famous musician. Kai lives with his grandmother, Dalia, who is less than approving of Ginny. She refers to her as “neighbor girl” and sees Kai wasting his talent and dreams every second that he spends with her. Grandma Dalia is known to believe in some strange ideas, such as the evil SnowRead More →

A couple of weeks ago we saw “her“, the Spike Jonze film about the lonely man who develops romantic feelings for his artificially intelligent operating system.  I thought that one of the most fascinating aspects of the film was how the OS, who calls herself Samantha, grew from the basic program that Theodore bought into a complicated, dynamic, interesting, and fully-actualized “person.”  Questions of physicality aside, witnessing Samantha’s evolution beyond her original programming was like watching any human being discover, adapt, learn, and become who they are meant to be. As I was thinking about Samantha (and her relationship with her world and Theodore), myRead More →

As if middle school is not frightening enough, Bethany Darling has just upped the rigor for her younger sister Jessica. Jessica Darling is about to start the seventh grade. Jessica thought she had a handle on it… until her older sister reveals to her “The Guaranteed Guide to Popularity, Prettiness & Perfection.” Bethany has paved the road for Jessica to succeed in middle school; Bethany herself has been declared the most popular, pretty, and perfect girl. Jessica has it easy then, right? Wrong!  As Jessica begins reading her Guaranteed Guide to Popularity, Prettiness & Perfection, she realizes that the guide is a lot more detailedRead More →

Forbidden romance – as old as the hills, right?  As timeless as the human condition indeed.  And in Ann Brashares‘ forthcoming The Here and the Now, reimagined in a mesmerizing, thrilling way. 17 year old Prenna James’ life is controlled by a strict set of rules, a community whose leaders know all about her movements and activities, and a deeply unsettling fear of exposure.  While she and the other community members partake in average, everyday American life in their Upstate New York town, they are nonetheless separate and secretive, limiting the ways in which they interact with “the natives.”  At first one assumes Prenna isRead More →

White Space by Ilsa J. Bick starts out as Lizzie McDermott’s story but morphs into Emma Lindsay’s.  Lizzie is the daughter of Wisconsin’s Most Famous Crazy Dead Writer, Frank McDermott, who is an author of horror stories which rival those of Steven King and H.P. Lovecraft.  Lizzie, who considers her mother most beautiful when she is defiant, determined, and enraged, possesses a power that surpasses that of both her parents.  With her memory quilt and the Sign of Sure, she can travel the Dark Passages, the black basement of the brain.  Here, she drifts on the breath of a dream into a black void toRead More →

18 years after a seemingly harmless virus was introduced at a theme park, all that remains of the United States east of the Mississippi River is a desolate, abandoned wasteland know as The Feral Zone.  No one knows what happened to anyone who was unlucky enough to have either been infected by the Ferae virus or left behind in the mass exodus West since a great wall separates The West from the Feral Zone, although rumors do circulate about exiled criminals, hideous man-beasts, and other nightmarish creatures. 17 year old Lane, who has lived her entire life in the West, is mildly curious about what’sRead More →

Sarah Nelson is not your typical twelve year old. While most kids her age enjoy watching action movies and playing sports, Sarah prefers to read books and write letters to Atticus Finch, a fictional character from her favorite novel. Her best friend happens to be a plant and she has never known her mother. While Sarah wants to know her mom and see her, she is unable to because Sarah’s mom is living in a mental institution. Sarah and her father have moved around Texas so many times, Sarah has never felt as if she has had a home. Once a neighbor, classmate, or co-workerRead More →

Recently graduated from high school and hoping to pursue a career in landscape architecture, Elizabeth Owens can’t wait to leave New Jersey for college at Berkeley.  Lauren Collins, who already lives in San Francisco, wants escape, too, and has requested a single room for the privacy, solitude, and novelty of no longer having to share space with anyone, especially her five siblings, six and under.  So, when Lauren learns her request has been denied and receives a “Hi, Roomie” email from EB inquiring about microwaves and mini-fridges, her reply is cool and somewhat curt.  A bit certain about EB’s warm overtures, Lauren aspires to work inRead More →

“Everybody lies.  We all do it. Sometimes we lie because it makes us feel better and sometimes we lie because it makes others feel better.” (1)  And so begins a grown man’s retelling of the story of the most pivotal moment in his youth when he dreamt up a lie, intended to bring a sense of peace to his dying father, that instead brought him a lifetime of regret and pain. In the summer of 1947, Bilal lived in a market town on the dusty plains of Northern India.  He loved reading his father’s precious books, running wild through the streets of the village withRead More →