Friday, November 21, 2008

How about a book review?

One of the many publishing blogs I read these days said that it is a good idea for writers to include book reviews on their blogs and so here I go.  I'd like to try posting one day of reviews a week.  That may change depending on interest, but for now that is my plan.

Just a little warning I have eclectic tastes.  I read just about anything except horror and erotica.  I especially love YA (young adult/teen) and MG (middle grade) literature, and so I read a lot of it.  I find myself continually drawn to it, and that is what I tend to write as well.  I am so amazed that it took me so many years to find the phenomenal writing that is all through so much of the "children's lit" out there.  I was such a grown-up and book snob.

I came to discover the wealth of children's lit when my oldest daughter started reading.  I was 34 with my feet firmly planted in classical and literary writing, but I wanted to read the books before she did to make sure they were appropriate for her age.  I found a rich treasure trove of stories and authors.  As she got into reading the MG lit, I found some of the books stuck with me and moved me more than the books for adults that I had read. As a result you will find a lot of YA and MG books in my reviews.  

For my first review I will present two books.  A favorite--Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse and the book I finished today--Izzy Willy-Nilly by Cynthia Voigt.  

OUT OF THE DUST  was one of the first YA/MG books I ever read and it blew me away.  It let me know with a vengeance that golden nuggets lurked in the children's section.  I would sit waiting in the pick-up line to get my kids from school and be transported to the dust bowl in Oklahoma in 1934-5--in one or two page snippets.  Written completely in verse, the terseness of the language captures the atmosphere of the novel and would leave me laughing or crying or both.  

There are so many vivid images that I had never thought of.  One that has never left me is that of the dishes set on the table upside down so they would not fill with dust before dinner was served.  Billie Jo, the main character, goes through many harrowing times through the course of the novel and discovers what she's made of.  I would and have read this over and over again.  This is the year I'm going to have my daughter read it.  I wanted her old enough to appreciate the poetry.

I highly recommend this Newberry Medal winner.  5 stars--easy!

IZZY WILLY-NILLY caught my attention because I've been wanting to read something by Cynthia Voigt that wasn't a series and my mother's name is Izzy.  So I thought it would be fun.  

Synopsis:  Izzy is a beautiful cheerleader who's pretty happy with her life.  She's a good person and has lots of friends.  When she loses a leg in a car crash on the way home from a party where her date had been drinking heavily, she has to deal with family and friends who aren't sure how to treat her anymore and her anger at the boy who never even apologizes.  An unexpected friend surfaces to help her make peace with her new self-image (well mostly) and others join in.

It was a compelling read.  I enjoyed the story quite a bit, but some references are dated--understandable since it was written in 1986.  The events and problems that Izzy face are still relevant today though.  Peer pressure, body image ideals, loss of friends, finding a place to fit in.  I probably wouldn't read it again, but I will recommend it for my daughter to read.

I give it 3 and 1/2 of 5 stars. 


Gottawrite Girl said...

Hey there, and so glad we found each other! Aspiring authors sticking together is a beautiful thing... : )

beth said...

I saw that post on book reviews, too :)

I've never read either of these books--thanks for the heads up!

lotusloq said...

Hey thanks for stopping by. I agree we aspiring authors do need to stick together.

I would like to improve my book reviews so if you have any ideas I'd love to hear them.