Saturday, January 18, 2014

All These Things I've Done (Birthright Series #1) by Gabrielle Zevin

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle (Birthright Series #1) by Gabrielle Zevin

In a dystopian future where chocolate and caffeine are contraband, teenage cellphone use is illegal, and water and paper are carefully rationed, sixteen-year-old Anya Balanchine finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight as heir apparent to an important New York City crime family.

Review: A dystopic novel about crime families fighting for control of the illegal chocolate and caffeine trade? I had to check this one out!!  Anya has had to grow up quickly. Both her parents were murdered in separate mob hits. Although she's only 16, she primarily cares for her dying grandmother, disabled brother and younger sister. She's keeps her precarious situation away from the attention of Family Services by following the wise business advise of her late father.  Anya Ballanchine's character has both a confident, practical understanding of the "family" and the vulnerability of a teen. Although some of the characters are a bit shallow and cliché, especially the Ballanchine crime family members and Anya Ballanchine, chocolate mafia princess', growing relationship with the city's District Attorney's son. I found the overall story.... fun! Perhaps it's because I listened to the book via an audio CD. Narrator Ilyana Kadushin's calm, practical voice perfectly captured Anya's character. Book 2, '"Because It's in My Blood", is already in my car's CD player.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

One morning before school, some girl tells Piddy Sanchez that Yaqui Delgado hates her and wants to kick her ass. Piddy doesn’t even know who Yaqui is, never mind what she’s done to piss her off. Word is that Yaqui thinks Piddy is stuck-up, shakes her stuff when she walks, and isn’t Latin enough with her white skin, good grades, and no accent. And Yaqui isn’t kidding around, so Piddy better watch her back. At first Piddy is more concerned with trying to find out more about the father she’s never met and how to balance honors courses with her weekend job at the neighborhood hair salon. But as the harassment escalates, avoiding Yaqui and her gang starts to take over Piddy’s life. Is there any way for Piddy to survive without closing herself off or running away? In an all-too-realistic novel, Meg Medina portrays a sympathetic heroine who is forced to decide who she really is.

Moving to a new apartment and enrolling in a new school is the last thing Piedad "Piddy" Sanchez wants to do. She's leaving her neighbors, her friends and the school where she was a strong, well-liked student to start a new life in Queens, New York. Little did she realize that from the first day of school her expectations would change from trying to fit in to trying to survive. She receives a note from someone she hasn't even met, Yaqui Delgado, who wants to kick her ass. From that moment we see Piddy's personality start to change to protect herself from her tormentors as she is repeatedly threatened then videotaped getting savagely attacked.

Author, Meg Medina, writes a poignant story of the emotional trauma and isolation that occurs in extreme bullying situations. With her inner strength and the support of her family and friends she finds the courage to face her bully on her own terms. I can definitely see young adults relating to Piddy's story and would highly recommend this book to upper middle school to high school students.