Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Every Day

Levithan, David. Every Day. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012. Print.


Body Hijacking -- the ultimate identity theft.


How many of us can say that we’ve ever loved someone entirely, exclusively, for who they are on the inside

What would it be like to have a soul, but not have a body? What would life be like if it meant “borrowing” someone else’s body every day, never the same one twice? How could you ever love or be loved, if you were never the same “person” every day?

I thought I wasn’t going to like this. I usually want, and expect, to climb into stories and get to know the protagonist, his people, his setting, and settle in to his interactions and tale with the other characters. The idea that my protagonist was unable to be described, because he didn’t possess a body, really wasn’t working for me. And then it did. Once “A”s voice began to consistently express itself with a trajectory that transcended the bodies he/she was in every day I jumped on board. I consistently thought of “A” as male, perhaps because the first body he was in was male, and he fell in love with that guy’s girlfriend, a heterosexual girl, so I started to categorize “A” as male because of that and because it made his love interest, Rhiannon, the most comfortable.

“A” has been jumping bodies as long as he/she has been conscious of being alive, and it happens at midnight each and every day. “A”’s age seems to correspond to the age of the bodies he/she jumps in, and “A” grows up at the same pace. In the story, “A” is now sixteen. Jumping takes place into a body that is geographically located within a few minutes to a few hours of the last one, so if that body ends up in say, Hawaii that day, on a plane, “A”’s next jump would strand him in Hawaii, unless another body he was in moved that day somewhere else. “A” always tries to maintain the status quo for the person’s life he is borrowing for the day, trying to “do no harm” and even leave things better when leaving than when arriving, if possible. But when “A” ends up in Justin’s body, and meets Rhiannon, he falls hard, and all bets are now off as “A” hijacks each subsequent body to try to stay connected to her, even if just a voyeuristic venture; soon that wears “A” down.

Risking all to reveal his true nature to Rhiannon, “A” strives to connect in a way most of us take for granted -- to love and be loved -- for more than one day. But everything goes terribly wrong; errors are made that set in motion a reckoning that could prove disastrous to both Rhiannon and “A”. How much is it worth? How much is “A” willing to risk? What if there was a way for him/her to stay?

The beauty in “A”’s experience is we are able to see what it is like to “try on” people and truly “walk a mile in their shoes” aka their bodies, to ultimately learn to accept and understand all types of people -- the geek, the beauty queen, the mean girl, the jock, the lesbian, the gay male, the trans-gendered, the fat guy: teens of all shapes, sizes, skin colors, cultures, gender and/or sexual affiliations -- and truly see that our humanity is universal and should be embraced. That life should really be about kindness, connection, love and moral integrity.

Genre Categories: Romance, Multicultural (LGBTQ), Paranormal/Fantasy.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Mcnamee, Graham. Acceleration. New York: Laurel Leaf, Division of Random House Children’s Books. 2005. Print.


How does a punk like Duncan go from unsuccessfully stealing a $600 toilet to trying to catch a serial killer? 


How Graham Mcnamee manages to cram one big cardiac arrest into a mere 210 tense pages is worth the price of admission on to one very fast subway train. Let’s see if the acceleration kills you.

Characterizations: Human, flawed, funny, tragic, complex across the board. And the protagonist is so very relatable to other teens today. Duncan is just a 17-year-old punk, living in the low-rent part of town, with little future but petty crimes and crappy jobs, but at his core, he’s struggling for more. A haunting past failure acts as a spur to his subconscious flank, making stopping the psycho all the more important to who Duncan is going to ultimately be.

Pacing: Builds and builds, ratcheting up the speed and tension until you want to pop. I literally started this in the morning and read it all the way through without stopping. I haven’t done that with a book in fifteen years.

Plot: Masterful. Every time you think you know where it’s going, it takes a sharp curve. Every scene, every thought, every move accelerates the story to it’s explosive conclusion. 

Genre: Mystery/Thriller, Coming-of-age, Realistic/edgy fiction

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy

Meyer, L.A. Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy. Orlando: Harcourt, Inc. 2002. Print.


Life on the streets of London in 1797 ain't no place for an orphan - aye, it be a hard and short one. Life on a navel ship ain't no place for a girl, but for a boy it be one helluva adventure. So Mary becomes Jack, and so it begins.

Justification for Nomination:

At first I wasn't going to nominate this for our Mock-Printz, because I started to worry that I shouldn't nominate everything I liked, as the criteria for the Printz demands the highest degree of excellence. I also figured a historical fiction adventure on the high seas would be considered outside the box for fiction popular today, so wouldn't be considered for a Printz. I was just going to say how much I liked it, but still turn it away.

Then I realized that I liked this book so much more than anything else I'd read so far this semester, perhaps because adventures and historical fiction both hold a special place in my heart, so just because they aren't the fiction du jour doesn't mean they should be disqualified for the Printz. So here I go -

Louis A. Meyer really nails the back streets of London in the late 1700's - the smells, death, poverty, dirt and grit, the orphans, body-snatchers, petty thieves and cutthroats. Seen through the eyes and told with the very distinct and believable voice of a young girl named Mary Faber, Bloody Jack transcends black and white words on the page to become full technicolor life in 1797. The cockney British dialect of the lower class flavors Mary with a realism more heartfelt than many of today's modern realistic YA fictions. Forced to grow up and fend for herself at an alarmingly young age, Mary is both resourceful and shrewd, and discovers in short order that cutting off her hair and donning the clothes of her dear departed friend Charlie will afford her the safety and many freedoms not possible as a female. Seizing a rare opportunity to board a naval ship as one of six ship's boys, Mary becomes Jack, and is soon learning the ways of sailors and service, seeing the world, chasing and battling pirates.

But as adolescence intervenes, Mary has more trouble keeping up with what she calls The Deception. They say a woman on board a ship is trouble, and even though no one knows "Jack's" secret, the trouble brews anyway, putting him/her at the center of a convergence of bad blood and revenge.

Jack's voice is true, she explores what it means to be male in a man's world, and feels what it means to be shut out of a lifestyle based on gender. As she matures she discovers her female nature, finds her own moral compass, and puts aside fear and self-preservation in order to save others - all which speak to a coming-of-age theme. The other characters are detailed, nuanced and well-drawn, adding another dimension of realism to Bloody Jack - the friend, the lover, the sage, the foil - so many characters fill out the archetypical roles of the hero's journey. The twists, turns and accidents of fate that land Jack in the middle of events that miraculously save the day are so fun and unexpected, they are a delight to read; I rushed through the pages and couldn't put this down until it was done. I discovered there are nine more in the series, and if it wasn't that I had to read another assigned category, I'd be rushing to be reading them right now. What a rip-roaring and rollicking high sea's ride!

Genre: Historical Fiction, Adventure, Romance, LGBTQ