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Ghost (Track 1)

In YA Book Reviews on September 8, 2016 at 10:30 pm

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by Jason Reynolds

Realistic Fiction/©2016/180 pages/First in a series (Track)/Recommended for ages 10+

Publisher’s Info (Courtesy of Goodreads):

Ghost wants to be the fastest sprinter on his elite middle school track team, but his past is slowing him down in this first electrifying novel of a brand-new series from Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award–winning author Jason Reynolds.

Ghost. Lu. Patina. Sunny. Four kids from wildly different backgrounds with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school track team—a team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics if they can get their acts together. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves.

Ghost has a crazy natural talent, but no formal training. If he can stay on track, literally and figuratively, he could be the best sprinter in the city. But Ghost has been running for the wrong reasons—it all starting with running away from his father, who, when Ghost was a very little boy, chased him and his mother through their apartment, then down the street, with a loaded gun, aiming to kill. Since then, Ghost has been the one causing problems—and running away from them—until he meets Coach, an ex-Olympic Medalist who blew his own shot at success by using drugs, and who is determined to keep other kids from blowing their shots at life.

My Thoughts:

What a great book! I loved everything about it – including the clever chapter titles (all of which start with “World Record for the…”). The writing is just amazing, the plot is thoughtful and engaging, and the characters are truly unique and so incredibly well developed that you feel you know them personally. Ghost (the main character) narrates the story in a way that will have you laughing and crying at frequent intervals throughout the book. That boy will work his way into your heart, and you will be rooting for him all the way. It is a quick, enjoyable read, and a great addition to the middle school library. Good to know that there are three more books in the series, each focusing on one of the other track team newbies.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

 

Furthermore

In YA Book Reviews on September 6, 2016 at 12:59 am

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By Tahereh Mafi

Middle Grade Fantasy/©2016/401 Pages/Stand Alone/Recommended for Middle Grades

Publisher’s Information (Courtesy of Goodreads):

The bestselling author of the Shatter Me series takes readers beyond the limits of their imagination in this captivating new middle grade adventure where color is currency, adventure is inevitable, and friendship is found in the most unexpected places.

There are only three things that matter to twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. The day Father disappears from Ferenwood he takes nothing but a ruler with him. But it’s been almost three years since then, and Alice is determined to find him. She loves her father even more than she loves adventure, and she’s about to embark on one to find the other.

But bringing Father home is no small matter. In order to find him she’ll have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. Her only companion is a boy named Oliver whose own magical ability is based in lies and deceit–and with a liar by her side in a land where nothing is as it seems, it will take all of Alice’s wits (and every limb she’s got) to find Father and return home to Ferenwood in one piece. On her quest to find Father, Alice must first find herself–and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.

My Thoughts:

I have been a fan of Tahereh Mafi since her Shatter Me trilogy, and this book did not disappoint.  It is highly entertaining and masterfully written.  The characters are truly unique, and the plot is quite engaging. The ending of each chapter just begs the reader to continue on to the next. Fast paced, hilarious, and almost impossible to put down. In addition to being a story well told, it is also about friendship, being yourself and believing in yourself. It is a great addition to the middle school library.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Favorite Quote:

“Alice knew that being different would always be difficult; she knew that there was no magic that would erase narrow-mindedness or iron out the inequities in life. But Alice was also beginning to learn that life was never lived in absolutes. People would both love her and rebuff her; they would show both kindness and prejudice. The simple truth was that Alice would always be different—but to be different was to be extraordinary, and to be extraordinary was an adventure. It no longer mattered how the world saw her; what mattered was how Alice saw herself. ”

 

The Running Dream

In YA Book Reviews on September 2, 2016 at 6:51 pm

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by Wendelin Van Draanen

YA Realistic Fiction/©2011/332 pages/Recommended for 7th Grade+

Publisher’s Info (Courtesy of Goodreads):

An award-winning and inspiring novel. When Jessica’s dreams are shattered, she puts herself back together—and learns to dream bigger than ever before.

Jessica thinks her life is over when she loses a leg in a car accident. She’s not comforted by the news that she’ll be able to walk with the help of a prosthetic leg. Who cares about walking when you live to run?

As she struggles to cope with crutches and a first cyborg-like prosthetic, Jessica feels oddly both in the spotlight and invisible. People who don’t know what to say, act like she’s not there. Which she could handle better if she weren’t now keenly aware that she’d done the same thing herself to a girl with CP named Rosa. A girl who is going to tutor her through all the math she’s missed. A girl who sees right into the heart of her.

With the support of family, friends, a coach, and her track teammates, Jessica may actually be able to run again. But that’s not enough for her now. She doesn’t just want to cross finish lines herself—she wants to take Rosa with her

Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award

My Thoughts:

Memorable characters, engaging plot, beautifully written, and incredibly inspiring – this book has it all. The story centers on Jessica and her adjustment to having lost her leg, but it is so much more than that.There are many life lessons embedded in the plot, and they will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.  This book is definitely a great addition to the middle school library.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Companion Books:

Flipped by Wendell Van Draanen

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Favorite Quotes:

“I wonder about the deep, wide abyss between good intentions and concrete action, and how many of them leapt across it.”

 “It’s to have people see her instead of her condition. That’s all that anybody with a disability wants. Don’t sum up the person based on what you see, or what you don’t understand; get to know them.” 

“It’s disturbing how fast weeds take root in my garden of worthiness.
They’re so hard to pull.
And grow back so easily.”