If Your Teens Loved Twilight – Impossible by Nancy Werlin Is A Good Book To Pass Along

impossible

Lucy Scarborough is part of a long line of cursed women who become pregnant at age 17.  Once the baby is born they descend into madness.  When a supernatural creature enters the lives of Lucy and her foster family, he sets the ancient curse into motion.   Lucy must complete three impossible tasks to break the curse and keep her sanity.  The book is inspired by the folk song “Scarborough Fair.”  Lucy is lucky she has the support of her family as they help her attempt the three tasks.

I suggest this book to Twilight lovers because of the supernatural element.  Also the boy who loves Lucy is almost too good to be true.  The girls who love Edward will enjoy Zach’s character.  My supervisor, Kristin said it best, when she said “fairies are more likely to exist than this guy.”  Zach loves her and stands by her even though she is pregnant with another man’s child.  I think characters like Edward and Zach may give teenage girls higher standards to look for in boyfriends, which is not a bad thing!  Impossible is a really interesting story.  When I suggested this book to teens in my high school book group they were very excited!

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

1. Read the song lyrics to Scarborough Fair.  Discuss what they think the song means.

2. What do the teens think is going on when the women go mad?  We get a glimpse later in the book.  What do they think is happening to the women’s minds as they are enslaved by the Elfin Knight?

3. Is Zach realistic?  Do they know any boys like him?  What should they expect from boyfriends?

4.  Talk about the three tasks.  How would they go about solving the riddle?

Sci-Fi disguised as a girl book! I love it!

jenna-foxThe part about the Jenna Fox waking up after a year long coma was intriguing enough, but when she starts to believe her body is not really her own it gets really good!

The Adoration of Jenna Fox, by Mary E. Pearson delves into how far a person would go to save or “keep” the person they love.  All we know about Jenna is that she’s been asleep for a year in a coma.  She wakes up in a new town trying to remember who she is.  Did she have friends?  Why are they living across the country from where her father works?  Why does her grandmother hate her?  The biggest question of all… why does her body feel so different?  Why can’t she recognize her hands?

I would assume this is in the somewhat distant future.  The second woman was elected president and the polar bears are now extinct.  There are also laws against certain kinds of medical experiments.  The book becomes more like a science fiction story as it goes on.  This would be a great  book to use to introduce a girl to a new genre.  The butterfly cover makes it look girly, however the meaning of the butterfly in the story is not what you would expect.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

1.  As Jenna discovers there is something not quit right, what did you think was happening to her?

2.  What would you have done if Jenna was your daughter?

3.  Should these types of science experiments be outlawed?

4.  Should Ally have reported Jenna’s parents?  Would you?

5.  What would you what Kara did for Locke and Kara?  Did she have the right?  How do you think she was hearing them?

6.  Was the book what you expected from looking at the cover?

7.  Would you read more books like this?

Susanne Collins The Hunger Games left me wanting more!

hunger-games

Most of you who know me have heard me gush about Unwind!  It was one of my favorite YA novels of last year.  When I mention it, people ask if I’ve read the The Hunger Games by Susanne Collins.  I finally have!  It surpassed all my expectations.  I wanted something that would hook and disturb me as much as Unwind. AND IT DID! 

Katniss lives in a world that was once the U.S.  It is now an oppressive society run by the Capital.  The Capital rules 12 Districts with intense fear, not unlike 1984.  Katniss lives in District 12 which appears to be what’s left of West Virginia.  Food is scarce there.  After her father dies in a mining accident, Katniss takes up his job as hunter to keep her mother and little sister, Prim fed.

Each year a boy and a girl between the ages of 12-18 from each district must compete in the Hunger Games.  It is a reality TV show where the children fight to the death on live television.  The children and their families have no choice in this matter.  Each year the names of the contestants, or tributes as they are called in the book, are drawn out of bowls on live television.  This year the girl is Prim, Katniss’s sister.  Knowing this is a death sentence for her sweet sister, Katniss volunteers to take her place.  She and a boy named Peeta are carted off to the capital where they become instant celebrities with stylists and plenty of good food and luxury.  The difference between what Katniss had to eat in District 12 and at the Capital is staggering.  Her relationship with Peeta is complicated, which could keep her alive or become the most dangerous part of the game.

One of the things that struck me in the callousness the Hunger Games people treat the tributes.  They actually think the tributes should be grateful for this opportunity.  The tributes must perform like trained dogs to entertain the Capital audience with interviews and an opening ceremony much like the Olympics.  The Hunger Games people remind me of the doctors in Unwind.  They are performing horrific acts against fellow human beings, children no less, and barely bat an eye.  If you remember, the nurse is not the least bit bothered while she is talking to a boy while he is being unwound.  She doesn’t care.  How can she think of him as a fellow human being?

It also makes me think a lot about reality TV.  We don’t kill people (yet) but we do enjoy their misery and humiliation.  Just watch how Simon Cowell reduces kids to tears.  We all laugh, but it is still cruel.

There are not any slow spots in this book.  I was engulfed the entire time.  The characters stick with you and the ending leaves you wanting more.  Some ideas for discussing with teens:

1.  How does the Hunger Games compare with reality TV?  Are today’s audiences as callous as the people in the Capital?  People don’t usually die, but viewers take delight in their humiliation.

2.  We think District 12 may be somewhere around West Virginia.  What do you think your district would be like in your part of the country?

3.  Talk about Katniss’s strategy.  Is she using Peeta?  Or is he using her?

4.  What do you think the Capital will do to Katniss after the games?

5.  How would you survive in the arena?  What would be your weapon of choice?

6. Talk about the pagentry of sporting events like the Olympics and the Super Bowl.  How do they compare to the Hunger Games?

Thank goodness this a trilogy!  The sequel, Catching Fire, will be released in September of 2009.  I can’t wait!