A More Mature Read Alike For Older Teen Wimpy Kid Fans. Metal Bands, Ferrets, Financial Problems Create A Funny, Teen Read In Half My Facebook Friends Are Ferrets.

Half My Facebook Friends Are Ferrets
I wanted to read this book as soon as I heard the title.  What a great title!  J.A. Buckle created a teen many young male readers will relate to.  He wants a girlfriend, is always strapped for cash and wants to be a rock star.  So many families are struggling to make ends meet so many teens can relate to Josh’s situation.  Josh copes by keeping a journal, somewhat like Greg Heffley from Wimpy Kid.  This book has the same humorous take on life and kept me laughing.  I found it interesting that there is a boy character, Josh’s friend Davey, who struggles with body image.  Body image and low self esteem isn’t just for girls.  It is nice to see this played out with a teenage boy in a YA novel.  He also learns his mother has secrets of her own which have a huge impact on his life later in the book.  I would hand this to a reluctant teenage boy reader.
Some ideas for discussing with teens:
Have you every kept a journal?  Did it help you?
What would you put on a bucket list?  Would it be anything like Josh’s?
Discuss metal bands that are mentioned in this book such as Metallica and Children of Bodom.
Do you play an instrument?  Why did you choose that one?  What song would you like to master?
Discuss what Davey is going through with body images.
Why do you think Josh got the girl in the end?

Great New Dystopian Read For Fans Of The Selection!

The Jewel (The Lone City, #1)Amy Ewing’s The Jewel is compared to both The Selection and The Handmaid’s Tale.  I loved both of those books and grabbed this one from the shelf.  The comparison is a fair one but the book stands on its own.  Violet lives in a world with levels of society.  She is from the Marsh which is the lowest, comparable to Katniss Everdeen’s District 12.  We meet Violet when she is at a holding center/school where she learns to perform magic that will help her in her duty.  She will be sold to a royal family to help them reproduce.  She is a surrogate.  For an unknown reason, the royalty cannot reproduce on their own and need girls like Violet to carry the children.  She will live in the lap of luxury, have fabulous clothes and attend many parties however, she is a slave.   She understands what this fully means when she meets The Duchess Of The Lake.  Her world is full of bitter rivalries and scheming.  Amy Ewing does a beautiful job world building.  She beautifully describes the opulence of The Jewel, the highest of the social circles, the clothes and the magical elements.  I especially loved the moment where Violet makes an old oak tree grow.  Violet must walk a line between finding a way to escape, falling in love which is verboten and how to be a model surrogate so those she comes to care about won’t get hurt.  The Jewel is a great read alike for The Selection series and The Chemical Garden series.  I highly recommend this new read for dystopian/fantasy fans.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Discuss Violet’s options.  What would you do if you were in her position?  Would you help the duchess? Discuss her relationships with Ash, Raven and Annabelle. Why do you think the royalty need girls like Violet? Why do you think they took away her name?  What about the lease?  Why would royal women use them? Discuss the rivalry between the Electress and the Duchess of the House of The Lake.  Why do you think the Duchess gets away with things? Was Ash worth the risk? Why do you think the surrogates are encouraged to have talents?  What do you think about how it ended? What do you think will happen next? Why do you think dystopian novels are so popular?  How does The Jewel stack up to the others you’ve read?

Brilliant Teen Read About Body Image And A Character That Knows Weight Is Just A Number That Doesn’t Define Her

Future Perfect Ashley has a problem.  She wavers between a size 18-20.  She doesn’t feel bad about herself.  She is a smart, brilliant, beautiful young woman and she knows it.  Every year her elegant, successful surgeon grandmother gives her a bribe for her birthday.  New car if you lose 50 pounds.. etc.  Ashely is dreading her birthday.  Waiting for that humiliating offer makes her physically ill.  This year the offer couldn’t be worse.  Her grandmother wants her to have gastric bypass surgery in exchange for the thing Ashley wants most, tuition to Harvard.  Ashley is brilliant enough to get in, but she may not have a scholarship.  Author, Jen Larson creates a rich cast of characters with Ashley and her friends, Laura and Jolene.  Laura is ignored by her rich father and stepmother and Jolene is a transgendered teen whose parents do not support her.  Ashley struggles with the choice and how others start to look at her differently because of the weight she may lose.  I love Ashley as a character.  She is not defined by her body image.  She knows she is beautiful.  This is a wonderful story about how others see you and being brave enough to ultimately see yourself.
Some ideas for discussing with teens:
Discuss “Everyone here is busy, achieving, overachieving.  I am not a special snowflake.  I know that anyone could overtake me at any moment.”
Discuss, “The refrain of my childhood and every year of my life and every bump and scrape and bruise inside and out.  Everything will be okay or could be.  I knew it wasn’t true.”
Discuss why Ashley’s grandmother would bribe her to lose weight.
Discuss her feelings for Brandon and Hector and how they are different.  How did her feelings for Brandon change after he showed interest?
How is the offer about Harvard different than all the others?
Discuss anxiety dreams.
Discuss Jolene’s situation with her parents.
Why do you think everyone lied about Ashley’s mother.
Discuss college essays.  What would your topic be?
Why do you think Ashley’s grandmother is so generous with Jolene but not with Ashley?
Talk about when Ashley yells in the cafeteria.
What does Ashley mean when she says she is the sum of her parts.
What would you decide in the end?