If You Love Teen Reads With Epic Road Trips, You Will Love Both Of Me!

Both of MeClara is on the run, following her father’s map around the world.  She is from England and is now in Minnesota.  Something happened to her younger brother that causes her pain, but we don’t know what happened or what her role might have been in the event.  Clara sits next to an unusual teen on the plane named Elias.  Their conversation is bizarre but what she notices after Elias falls asleep really freaks her out.  His notebook is full of sketches about her life.  Could he know her secret?  When she leaves the plane she realizes that Elias took her bag.  She and her friend track him down to get the bag back.  When she arrives she finds a bed and breakfast with a cast of characters and Elias’s mother begs her to stay for a while.  Perplexed, Clara agrees.  She discovers there is much more to Elias than originally thought.  His mind is split in two.  One half exists in a world in his mind called Salem.  Clara and Elias take off on an epic road trip that mirrors The Odyssey as Elias slips in and out of his multiple personalities.  They search towns that are named Salem trying to find “the light keeper”, looking for clues that will make Elias whole again.  Elias has extraordinary gifts of fixing and building things, including a junker plane they pick up on the way.  Jonathan Friesen has a gift for writing about characters with special needs.  Elias is a fascinating character.  There are boarders at the bed and breakfast who stay because they want to live in the world in his mind.  This is a story of discovery and learning the truth about the past and not letting it destroy you.  I highly recommend this book.  It is a real page turner.  It will be released in December 2014.

Ideas for discussing with teens:

What do you think Clara is running from?

What was your reaction to seeing Elias’s sketches of Clara’s life?

Discuss when Juan said, “Or was your brother somehow just right as he was?  Clara, if the world in Elias’s mind is a kinder, safer one, why not enjoy it?  I mean, we are all running from something.”

Discuss when Clara said, “How strange to find myself drawn to half a boy.” pg. 103

Why do you think the “other one” is looking for the lightkeeper?

Discuss Clara’s interactions with her online friend.  What did you think when you found out who it was.

Discuss the guests using the lottery to spend more time in Elias’s Salem.

Would you rather spend time in the real world or Salem?

Discuss the Underground Railroad history of Salem, Ohio.

Discuss Orion.

Discuss when Clara said, “Izzy’s words were going where my affections couldn’t reach.  I felt such a fool.” pg. 188

What do you think Elias drew for Kenton?


Fans of John Green Will Love Adi Alsaid’s Let’s Get Lost!

Let's Get LostI heard about this book as a great John Green read alike.  There is a road trip, unforgettable characters and witty banter.  Lelia is traveling across the country to visit the Northern Lights.  We are not sure why she is doing this.  She comes across four people and changes their lives.  Five sections are told in different points of view.  Hudson is preparing for the most important meeting of his life, a chance for a full ride scholarship at Olde Miss.  He is a brilliant student and hopes to be a doctor.  He is also a gifted mechanic, which is where he meets Lelia.  She needs her car fixed.  Their time together will impact everything he thought he wanted.  She then meets Bree, a wild hitchhiker with a very troubled life.  The two of them have an experience that will either save Bree or make her situation worse.  Elliot is having a Lloyd Dobbler moment, he has confessed his love to his best friend at prom, right before they graduate.  It doesn’t go well and as he stumbled into the street full of despair, Lelia nearly runs him over.  The two go on a  journey that will help Elliot get the girl or make an even bigger fool of himself.  I think this one is my favorite, because of the Say Anything references.  It is one of my favorite movies.  Sonia is at the wedding of the sister of her dead boyfriend.  At the same time she is trying to hide the fact that she has fallen in love with a  family member of the boyfriend’s sister’s husband.  Sound confusing?  Think how Sonia feels.  She losses it and runs off the night before the wedding, running into Lelia who gives her a ride.  Unfortunately there are complications involving wedding rings, passports and a stoner who has a cryptic message about donuts.  At last we hear Lelia’s story which is not what I expected.  Alsaid created a beautifully told story that has moments of great sadness, love and humor.  Fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell will love it.  One of the things I loved most about this novel, is that Alsaid is brilliant at writing emotions.  I felt along with the characters and got lost in the story.  I can’t wait to see what else Adi Alsaid writes.  This book is a triumph!

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Discuss the Vonnegut line, “I urge you to please notice when you are happy.”

Discuss hidden treasures in your community.

Discuss Lelia’s thoughts about Hudson not wanting to go to school.  What do you think Hudson will do now?

Discuss the relationship between Bree and her sister.  How did Lelia help or hurt her?

Discuss how Elliot is or isn’t like Lloyd Dobler.

Would you have gone on stage and sang to your crush?

Discuss what happened when Elliot found Maribel.  The note?

Discuss when Lelia tells Elliot this isn’t the last time he will fall in love and his heart will be broken.

Talk about Lelia’s tea metaphor about Sonia.

Discuss when Lelia tells Sonia that love is not a once in a lifetime thing.

Discuss the line from the Neutral Milk Hotel song, “Chasing the only meaningful memory you thought you have left.”

Discuss the ending and Lelia’s secret.

Lauren Myracles’ yolo Tackles Tough Issues For College Freshman In Funny, Heartfelt Teen Read

yoloI had not read the first three Internet Girls books, ttyl, ttfn, or l8r g8r.  It was fine because yolo is strong enough to stand on its own.  Best friends, Maddie, Angela and Zoe are starting college at three different universities.  Maddie goes the furthest to California, Zoe at Kenyon College in Ohio, and Angela stays home in Georgia and gets involved in the Greek scene.  Like the first three books, the story is told through texts, phone calls and chats.  The friends deal with many first year of college issues, making new friends, painful breakups, hazing, taking classes you don’t like, dealing with roommates and date rape. I had some crappy roommate experiences in college and this book brought back memories.  The girls share very real problems in a realistic way, staying in constant communication even though they are many miles away from one another.  I enjoyed this book very much!  Fans of the series will love it, and it is a solid novel even if you have not read the other books.  I enjoyed the journey of Zoe as she turns to running and writing to deal with her pain.  I loved watching Angela evolve and make a good boyfriend choice instead of following the sorority herd.  Maddie does what many young people do, hide what is going on with them with a super positive social media image.  Many young readers will relate to these girls and find inspiration on how do deal with their own problems.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Discuss Zoe’s worries about Doug not wanting her to visit.

Discuss Doug’s breakup with Zoe.  How would you have handled it?

Discuss Angela’s relationship with Reid.

Discuss the yolo plan, saying yes to new experiences.

Discuss the verbal abuse and expectations from the Zetas.  Would you stay or depledge.  Discuss the date rape.

What do you think of Canyon?

Talk about what happens with Angela, Lucy and the homeless man.

What do you think is going on with Maddie when she deletes her Facebook page?  What did you think was really going on?  What would you do if you were going through that?


After Seeing Divergent The Movie And Reading Four, I Gave Allegiant Another Chance.

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)I’ll admit, I did not like this book the first time I tried to read it.  I loved the first book and enjoyed the second book.  I did not remember the characters besides Tris and Four and was confused about who Caleb, Christina and Peter were since it has been a year since reading Insurgent.  Since then, I’ve read Four, which I loved and saw the movie.  With the characters fresh in my mind I decided to give Insurgent and Allegient another go.  I am glad I did.  I enjoyed both books and found the ending satisfying.  I know many found the ending controversial, but I am glad some authors are not afraid to get a little George R. R. Martin from time to time.  Allegiant tackles the idea that some people are genetically pure while others are damaged.  People cannot help being violent, or less intelligent.  I was pleased to find out there was much more to Tris’s mother and would have loved to know more.  Maybe an ebook short on her story??? We find out who is controlling the faction experiment and watch Tobias and Tris battle their own demons to stay together.  The ending does seem a little cruel in that regard.  But it helps Tobias continue to evolve as a character.  I was able to keep the different POV chapters straight this time.  I enjoyed Tobias’s point of view in the book, Four, and was ready to get more of it. I enjoyed the complexity of Tris and Four as characters.  While not as strong as The Hunger Games trilogy in world building, I still enjoyed the series very much.  I am looking forward to the movie versions of both Insurgent and Allegiant.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Discuss when Nita says, “The people fighting it now probably fight because they have been taught that it is a problem.”  pg. 252

Discuss Tris’s relationship with her brother, Caleb.

How did Four’s feelings about himself change when he found out he was not Divergent.

Discuss Tris’s reaction to her mother’s past.

What are your opinions of Peter and Christina as characters?

Discuss Tris’s parent’s decision to join Abnegation together.

Discuss when Christina says, “Don’t get me wrong, I like to laugh, but I also want a relationship to mean something.” pg. 255

Discuss when Tris and Christina compare their ways of thinking with Abnegation and Candor.  Tris says, “Maybe it’s not so important to escape them (the factions.)” pg. 257

Discuss when Tris’s mother said there was evil in everyone, and the first step to loving someone else is to recognize that evil in ourselves, so we can forgive them.

Discuss when Tris says she chooses Tobias over and over again. pg. 372

Discuss Tobias’s decision about the memory serum.  What would you do?

Discuss “We can be mended.  We mend each other.” pg. 526