The Book Reviews – Website

November 3, 2008

Crush

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Crush

Author: Carrie Mac

Page Length: 106

Reading Level: 3.4

Genre: Fiction         

PLOT SUMMARY: Hope is disappointed when she learns her parents are going to Thailand to build a school and she is being sent to New York to stay a month with her sister, Joy and her loser boyfriend, Bruce.  While there, Hope incurs a huge veterinarian bill and must find a job.  She becomes a nanny for Maira, who introduces her to Larissa, her gay partner. Although Hope has lived in a commune with her hippie parents her entire life, this is her first introduction to “gay living”.  Hope meets Nat, who runs a bike shop, and is attracted to her.  The only problem is that Nat is a girl, too.  Now, she finds herself apart of the gay community as she strives to determine what her sexuality preference really is. 

REVIEW: This book was well written as it deals with a teen girl’s struggle to identify her sexual preference.  The writing is so descriptive that the reader can feel the emotions Hope deals with as she tries to decide what is real and what is imagined.  Although the parents are presented very liberal, I thought their immediate acceptance to Hope and Nat’s relationship, was unrealistic.  Although gay relationship is evidenced openly in our society today, I would question having this book on the shelves in my schoolroom.

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: The entire book is about a gay relationship as well as drug use and premarital sex.

AREAS OF TEACHING: Conflict, Compare and Contrast, Imagery (p. 7, 13, 26, 68, 75), Irony, and Character

RELATED BOOKS: Born Confused, Orphea Proud

RELATED WEBSITES:

www.tower.com/crushcarriemac-hardcover/wapi/100068174

www.carriemac.com/crush.html

www.readerviewskids.com/ReviewMacCrush.html

orca.powerwebbook.com/…/TeachersGuides/Orca Soundings/CrushTG.pdf,

www.umanitoba.ca/outreach/cm/vol12/no21/crush.html

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

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September 21, 2008

Born Confused

Born Confused

Author: Tanuga Desai Hidier

Page Length: 500

Reading Level: 7

Genre: Fiction        

PLOT SUMMARY: Dimple Lala, an American of Indian decent, is turning 17.  She has tried to deny her roots of being Indian, although her greatest attachment in life is to her now deceased grandfather who lived in India. As Dimple tries to find her place in life, she finds herself caught between her parent’s ideals and values and the lifestyle of blonde hair blue-eyed, Gwyn, her best friend since grade school.

Dimple’s parents try to set up a marriage with their long-time friend’s son, Karsh. Refusing to be a part of the set up, Dimple releases all claims to Karsh to Gwyn who is totally intrigued with “Indian” culture, which is posh in the New York setting.  As Dimple sees Karsh in his D. J. mode, she realizes she does have feelings for him, but thinks he is attracted to Gwyn. 

Dimple becomes aware of not only her Indian culture and its importance, but begins to discover herself through her experiences with her parents, her cousin, Kavita, Gwyn and her romances, Karsh, and her own photography.

REVIEW: Tanuja Desai Hidier does an excellent job of writing a great book about a teen of Southeast Asian Indian decent coming of age in America. The book addresses several touchy areas such as the use of underage drinking, marijuana use, a lesbian affair and a character that is a transvestite that the teacher should be aware of before a student reads.

Her descriptive writing is some of the best I have read in young adult novels and the pages noted could be used as examples for a class lesson, even if the book is not being read as a class novel. 

At a seventh grade reading level, the book is quite lengthy and I would suggest for the advanced, mature female reader. However, I enjoyed it immensely.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: Descriptive writing (through out the book but noted on p. 18, 57, 163, 212, 217, 337, 436-440) Cause and Effect, and Compare and Contrast (different cultures)

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: Underage drinking, Drug use (p. 251-265), lesbian relationship (p. 310), transvestite (p.314).

RELATED BOOKS: Time Out, New York Asian New York Special, Desilicious Anthology, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, The Border, Imaginary Men, A Step from Heaven

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: Short Films by the same author: “The Test” (1996) and “The Assimilation Alphabet”

Author is also a member of “Angels and Whips” (band)

RELATED WEBSITES:

www.thisistanuja.com/index.html

www.amazon.com/Born-Confused-Tanuja-Desai-Hidier/dp/0439510112

www.desijournal.com/book.asp?articleId=26

www.allreaders.com/Topics/info_35479.asp

www.asu.edu/clas/english/englished/yalit/bornconfused/index.htm.

www.scholastic.com/browse/contributor.jsp?id=2731

REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

July 29, 2008

Orphea Proud

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Orphea Proud

Author: Sharon Dennis Wyeth

Page Length: 190

Reading Level: 5

Genre: Fiction

PLOT SUMMARY: The story of Orphea begins in a club where Orphea shares her material with the crowd. Orphea begins to tell us her story. She begins with a flashback to when her mother, Nadine, was a beautiful singer, wed to a controlling preacher. Orphea tells us how they met and what unfolded in her childhood. Orphea and her best friend fall in love with one another. Orphea’s brother doesn’t approve; he creates a tumultuous home life for Orphea. After being sent to live with her aunts, Orphea befriends Ray, and through their friendship Orphea’s broken heart begins to heal. She begins to write again and finds her way back to living again.

REVIEW: This is not your average book. In fact, Orphea falls in love with her best friend, Lissa (they are both females). The book deals with the romance and rather briefly addresses the physical nature of their relationship. Prejudice is revealed through the brother who reacts toward the relationship with violence. The book does create an understanding for Orphea as a person and would be useful in teaching students to understand instead of judging others. However, I would not want to have to defend this book to a parent. I would avoid this book on the classroom level all together.

On the other hand, times are changing and some students may need the support this novel could offer about sexuality and same-sex relationships. Read it your self before your students do and you’ll be prepared instead of surprised.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: conflict, cause and effect, countering prejudice,

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: lesbian relationship (detailed on pages 22-23), physical abuse (pgs. 23-24)

RELATED BOOKS:

Female same-sex relationship books: The Rules for Hearts, Good Girls Don’t, I’ve Known Since I was Eight, Keeping You a Secret

Wyeth books: A Piece of Heaven, Something Beautiful, Corey’s Underground Railroad Diary

RELATED WEBSITES:

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0PBX/is_6_38/ai_n7179968

http://www.clt.astate.edu/sparks/Volume%204/Issue%203/Y%20Adult/Orphea%20Proud.htm

http://www.sharondenniswyeth.com/

http://www.sharondenniswyeth.com/young_adults.html

http://www.randomhouse.com/teachers/authors/results.pperl?authorid=33850

REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor

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