April Teen Book Reviews

katebrethlessBreathless by Jessica Warman

Katie Kitrell’s life is a mess. It was when her mom finally became a successful artist and her dad started a psychiatry practice and the family actually had some money that Katie first started to feel the true burden of hatred and jealousy. The only friend she had was her older brother Will. But Will has been in and out of her life since elementary school, and the summer before sophomore year turns out to be the worst. After Will’s most recent bout of “losing it,” Katie’s parents admit him to a psychiatric hospital and send her off to boarding school. Unlike many typical teen novels, Katie can’t wait to be shipped off. At boarding school, she lies about her family and tells everyone that her brother is dead, and she focuses on other things: she finds some real friends, falls in love, and excels at swimming. But Katie just cannot escape her family or the love (and hatred) she feels for her brother. The family issues are reminiscent of Dana Reinhardt’s How to Build a House, and while Katie makes some poor decisions throughout the novel and she has no idea how to handle her emotions, she’s authentic and inspiring.

Recommended to high school readers.

katepinocchioPinocchio, Vampire Slayer by Van Jensen, illustrated by Dustin Higgins

With stark black-and-white illustrations, Jensen and Higgins continue the story of the famous wooden puppet that comes to life, called Pinocchio. After a quick re-cap of the original story, the reader learns that Pinocchio is a monster slayer, acting upon his own vendetta against Geppetto’s killer. When he makes a plea to the townspeople for help, he is mocked and left alone to save the carpenter and fairy who have been devoted to caring for him. What he finds is a community of monsters, of vampires, and he discovers that to destroy those who took his father from him, he must face a few truths and use knowledge – and denial – as his ally.

Recommended to all readers who enjoy graphic novels and untraditional retellings of classic stories.

katechosenThe Chosen One by Cynthia Lynch Williams

Thirteen-year-old Kyra’s home is in a polygamous community with her father, her mothers, and her many brothers and sisters. She isn’t exactly content with life, but she loves her family, her greatest joy is playing the piano, and she has a super secret crush on Joshua. On the day that Kyra finds out she has been promised in marriage to her father’s brother — a man 50 years her elder, and her uncle! — her world begins to crumble. Kyra’s father and Joshua speak with the Prophet in an attempt to appeal the decision, resulting only in harsh words and violent fists. When Joshua is sent away from the compound, Kyra knows she must run away. In order to do what is best for herself, she relies on internal strength, the Mobile Library on Wheels, and her faith in God to help guide her. But there is no easy way out for Kyra.

This is an extraordinary and powerful account of life in a polygamous cult. The lives and characters of this novel are horrifying and endearing, and this story will both bring tears to your eyes and inspiration to your heart. Most highly recommended for all readers, though intense situations and circumstances make this title best for older readers. Especially recommended on audio.

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Katherine Vasilik, Teen Librarian
Franklin Lakes (NJ) Public Library
tel: 201-891-2224 x105
fax: 201-891-5102
email: vasilik@bccls.org or kate_thelibrarian@yahoo.com
blog: http://katethelibrarian.blogspot.com