This teen romantic comedy about arranged marriage is fantastic! It is a funny, honest and romantic read.

28458598What a sweet, fun, romantic read!  But this is not your typical teen rom-com.  Dimple and Rishi are arranged by their parents.  Rishi knows and is all in.  Dimple however, has no idea.  She is headed to Stanford in the fall and has no plans for romantic entanglements. She has a future as a tech giant to pursue.   She wants to attend Insomnia Com where can she focus on her great idea for a new app and hopefully turn into in a real one that can save lives.  Her parents were not on board with her going until suddenly they were.  Rishi is a more traditional Indian boy who wants to make his parents happy.  He is on his way to M.I.T. and knows his future is with Dimple Shah.  He is also going to Insomnia Con and asked to be her partner so they can get to know each other.  So suddenly her parents are in favor of her going.  When they met, Dimple is shocked and Rishi is confused and a little heartbroken.  Dimple is serious about this experience and doesn’t need the distraction so she can win and get her app developed by her tech hero.  She is furious with her parents for pushing her in this more traditional direction.  As Dimple and Rishi get to know each other things start to change. Dimple has to deal with bullies and awkward social situations but Rishi is always by her side.  Slowly she starts to see him and the sparks fly.  I highly recommend this book.  It is a fun, enjoyable read.  Indian teens will see themselves and other teens will learn about a different culture and how it pertains to the modern world.  I couldn’t put it down!  Dimple is a strong female character who shows you do not have to give up on your dreams to share your life with a good person.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Discuss the idea of arranged marriage.  What could be the pros and cons?

How are Dimple and Rishi similar and different?

Discuss how they meet.  What would you do if you were Dimple.  Or Rishi?  How would you respond?

Discuss how their relationship started to change.

Discuss the horrible dinner with the Aber-Zombies.  Why do you think people behave like that?

Discuss Dimple’s friendship with her roommate?

Discuss how Dimple and Rishi help each other and change their lives.

Why does Dimple make that hard decision at the end of the story?  What would you do?

Talk about what it means to be well matched.  What would you look for in a life partner?

Discuss Rishi’s brother’s relationship?  How is he different than Rishi.

What do you think is next for Dimple and Rishi?

 

Fun Teen Romance – Alex, Approximately Is A Must Read For 2017

30312700I love the movie, You’ve Got Mail.  So when Alex, Approximately was sold in the vein, I had to read it.  It is a fun read both teens and adults will enjoy.  Bailey is moving in with her dad in a California town. Her mom’s marriage isn’t going so well which is why Bailey is ready for the switch. She meets Alex online at a chat room for film enthusiasts.  He only knows Bailey as Mink, her nickname.  Alex wants her to visit and watch North by Northwest with him on the beach.  He lives in the same town as her dad.  She keeps the fact that she is moving there a secret, figuring she might try to hunt him down before revealing herself  She has a cool vespa and job at an interesting cave/mansion/museum.  The only issue is the obnoxious security guard, surfer named Porter.  While Bailey tries to follow the clues to Alex, Porter gets under her skin.  After irritating each other, a romance begins. Bailey is torn between Porter and Alex who she’s never met. Little does she know that Porter is Alex, approximately.  This is a fun teen romance that has a great sense of place.  I felt like I was in the museum or at the beach with Bennett’s descriptive writing.  The story line about how Porter got his scar and his family history of surfing is a good plot line as well. I have a fear of sharks too. This is one to put our your to read list for 2017.  It will be released April 4th.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Discuss online relationships.  Are they a good idea?  Have you ever had one?

Discuss any old movies you’ve seen that you liked.  Have you seen any mentioned in the book?

Talk about Bailey’s sense of Old Hollywood style.  What is your style?

Discuss the friendship between Porter and his friend with the drug problems.

What would you do if you were locked in the museum overnight?

Discuss what draws Porter and Bailey together even when they didn’t hit it off right away.

Why do you think Bailey’s mother didn’t contact her that summer?

Discuss Porter’s reaction when he found out that Bailey was Mink.

 

 

 

The Sun Is Also A Star is my favorite read of 2016.

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Nicola Yoon creates a story that weaves together lives that collide by chance and shows how we are all interconnected.  The Sun Is Also A Star is one of my favorite reads in 2016.  It is written for teens but adults will love it too.  Daniel is the son of Korean immigrants.  He is on his way to an interview to get into what his mother calls “second best school” also known as Yale.  Natasha’s family is set to be deported that night to Jamaica.  Her father’s DUI made the family’s undocumented status known and Natasha is trying one last time to halt the deportation. Because a security guard takes too long getting Natasha through the line, she misses her last chance appointment but gets a shot with another attorney.  While killing time before her appointment, she collides with Daniel.  Daniel has been looking for signs ever since the subway driver evangelized to the passengers.  Did this happen for a reason?  Then he sees the dues ex machina jacket Natasha is wearing and follows her because he thinks this might be a sign.  The two meet and an adventure begins.  Is this by chance or destiny?  As the two get to know each other, Daniel explains that there is a science to falling in love.  He thinks he can make Natasha fall in love with him.  Natasha is a scientist and is skeptical.  The story unfolds into beautiful character development as we get to know these two exceptional characters.  It is told in point of view with many other perspectives from side characters and theories.  I couldn’t put it down and was deeply moved at the end.  I dare you not to cry during this one.  Good luck!

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

How are these characters similar or different?

Discuss how we touch each others lives without knowing it.

Discuss when Natasha says: “Human beings are not reasonable creatures.  Instead of being ruled by logic, we are ruled by emotions.”

Discuss when Natasha observes Rob and Kelly and thinks, “He’s very persuasive, and she wants to be persuaded.”

Discuss when Daniel says that Natasha makes him think his life could be extraordinary.

What do you think about the science behind falling in love?

Read out loud the discussion about culture and what people think on pages 156 & 157.  Discuss.

Discuss Natasha’s thoughts about hair on page 130.

Discuss when Natasha says, “It is not up to you to help other people fit you into a box.” (pg. 158)

Discuss how the waitress  feels about culture and why she felt that Natasha should use the chopsticks.

Discuss their fight in the park.  (pgs 192-195)

Discuss when Daniel says, “We tell ourselves there are reasons for the things that happen, but we’re just telling ourselves stories.  We make them up.  They don’t mean anything.”

Discuss the ending and how the security guard fits into it.

 

 

A Season For Fireflies Is One Of My Favorite Teen Reads Of 2016

 This book is easily my favorite teen read of 2016.  In the past year Penny has lives two lives.  The problem is, she doesn’t remember one of 26869838them.  One day she is a drama geek with her group of friends and falling in love with Wes, next she wakes up in the hospital and none of them are her friends anymore.  Instead she is the best friend of the popular Kylie.  How did this happen?   Before being struck by lightning, Penny is dealing with the public embarrassment her mother’s drinking has become. It is too painful to talk about, even with her best friends.  The storytelling is excellent with a great slow reveal of what really happened.

I love that even though Penny struggles to win back her old friends, Kylie fights for her and shares the pain that she is also losing a friend. It is painful for Kylie to watch Penny not remember their friendship.  Popular girls are often the villain of teen books.  It is refreshing to see that character played a different way.  I love that Penny can be friends with all of them.  What a great message to send to teens.  Why can’t we all be friends?

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Describe why Kylie is a “safe” friend for Penny.

Discuss why penny rejected May and Wes when things became painful with her mom.

Discuss when Penny wonders “why guys have to make fun of a girl in order to interact with her.”

Discuss how Penny impacts May, Wes, Kylie and her mom.

Discuss why Penny’s mom blames her for everything.

Discuss how penny can be friends with everyone and not have to have one or the other.

Discuss the Shakespeare quote, “Hear my soul speak: The very instant that I saw you, did my heart fly to your service.”

Readers Who Love Music Will Love Red Velvet Crush

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Teddy Lee’s somewhat deadbeat brother, Winston, has an idea.  If he built a band around her talent and songwriting, he and the radio station where he works could make some money.  Enter Ty, Ginger Baker and Jay.  They come from another school which might as well be a different world.  They have great musical skills and money.  But when it comes time for Teddy Lee to sing, her sister Billie jumps in.  Billie is her younger sister who is everything Teddy Lee is not.  She is wispy, blond and sings in a smoky voice that Teddy Lee knows is better than hers.  Billie exudes confidence and sex appeal where Teddy Lee feels more awkward.  When adorable Ty starts to show interest, Teddy Lee hopes it is for real.  The two start a budding romance that involves their shared love of music.  Teddy Lee is a songwriter but she doesn’t want her sister to sing the songs she poured her heart into.  When the band goes on a summer tour things happen that can cause permanent damage.  This story is about both love and sisterly rivalry and the horrible wounds that only sisters can inflict on each other.  This book is a great read alike for fans of Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist.    I highly recommend this one as a great summer read.  It comes out in June.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Discuss this passage, “She bumps along with a smile on her face, knocking into everyday shit, unknowingly changes the trajectory of everything around her.  Lives, furniture, even things that appear to be set in stone are nudged into another dimension when she bounces up against them:  poor unprepared world.”

Discuss this passage, “I am kind of amazed that he is telling: flat out, up front, admitting to something that most people would try to push under the rug or pretend never happened until some unforeseen situation forces it to light later on and by then it seems even bigger and uglier because of the wait.  The truth always finds its way out.”

Discuss this passage, “Sometimes smashing the guitar to bits is more important than the song.”

Discuss with Teddy Lee says she can’t let Billie have everything.  Discuss their relationship and how she felt when Billie took over singing in the garage.

Discuss Teddy Lee and Ty’s experience at The Wall Of Sound.

Talk about how Teddy Lee’s relationship changes with Billie.

Discuss when Teddy Lee says to her father, “He could have been everything.” And her father says “Nobody else should be everything, then where are you?”

Discuss how Teddy Lee’s relationship with Ginger Beard changes.

What do you think will happen between Teddy Lee and Ty?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Selection Series Keeps Going Strong With Book #4, The Heir.

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Kiera Cass’s The Heir takes place many years after The Selection. King Maxon and Queen America rule a much different Illea.  The caste system is gone but there is much unrest.  Their daughter, Eadlyn is 18 and the heir to the throne.  To create a distraction for the troubled kingdom, they hold a male selection.  Thirty-five young men from across the kingdom are vying to be prince consort to the powerful and beautiful Eadlyn.  If you are hoping for more Maxon and American romance, you may be disappointed.  This book is all about their daughter and her quest to balance power, duty and her own desires.  She has no interest in finding a mate but she reluctantly agrees to this to ease her father’s worries about the kingdom.  The selection from the different perspective is interesting.  Eadlyn is a very different character than her mother.  Cass created a great group of side characters.  The men in the selection have very different personalities and motivations.  Some, like Henri are endearing.  The twist is that Marlee’s son, Kile is one of the selected.  He grew up in the palace and Eadlyn cannot stand him.  That dynamic is very interesting as well as her relationship with her brothers.  I was thrilled that Cass extended the trilogy.  I loved being back in this world of Illea.  Even though I saw less of my favorite characters, Eadlyn grew on me.  It asks questions about what a princess should be.  Should she have to get married at all? I am looking forward to Eadlyn’s story continue in The Crown that comes out in May of 2016.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Discuss how Jack and Burke’s attacks made Eadlyn feel.

Discuss how Eadlyn’s relationship with Kile changes.

Discuss when Eadlyn thinks, “This was why love was a terrible idea:  it makes you weak.  And there was no one in the world as powerful as me.”

Discuss what a ruler should be?  Should Eadlyn have to get married?

Discuss what is appealing about Hale, Henri, Kile, Ean or any others.

Which of the selected would you pick?

Discuss how Eadlyn’s was surprised at how the subjects

What type of person would be best for Eadlyn?

Discuss how Eadlyn compares herself to Camille from France.

Discuss Eadlyn’s conversation with her maid, Neena about her fiance having a higher skill job than she does.

Discuss how America and Eadlyn are similar.  How are they different?

What do you think of Ahren’s letter?

 

Brilliant story of loss, feeling lost and building yourself back up in Printz Honor Book, And We Stay!

And We StayEmily is starting over.  To say she has had a rough time is an understatement.  She is a survivor of a school shooting.  Her boyfriend, Paul, killed himself in front of her in the school library.  The story begins as Emily is starting a new school, a boarding school to be exact.  Her family felt she should get away and move forward toward her goal of attending Harvard.  The story is told in Emily’s voice as she is now and in flashbacks to what happened and what lead up to the shooting.  Her school in Amherst, MA was also once home to poet, Emily Dickinson.  Emily is also a poet.  The poems come to her and spell out her inner most pain.  I love the relationships Emily has with two of her teachers, the English teacher back home and the French teacher at the boarding school.  It is also interesting how Emily finds new friends who have their own pain they are trying to hide. Emily is a very relate-able character.  She spends much of the story stuck in the in-between space between what happened to Paul and building a future for herself.  I think many teens can relate to that “stuck” feeling.  The novel is beautifully written by Hubbard.  I loved this book and had trouble putting it down.  I missed the characters when it was over.

Ideas for discussing with teens:

Discuss, “you don’t advertise where you’re from.  You advertise where you’ve been.  And even though it sounds like it, believe me, they’re not the same thing.” pg. 49

Discuss when Emily says all males are paradoxes.

Emily talks about how Mrs. Albright’s classroom was the one place where she could be the real her.  Do you have a place like that?

Discuss this passage, “A girl who lies alone, in her single bed. Cannot grasp the science of her solitary head.” pg. 64

Discuss the line when Emily describes poems coming into her head, “Lines unspool like ribbons, and she can’t fall asleep until she ties them into bows.”

Discuss the line from the Emily Dickinson poem about the loaded gun. pg. 16

Discuss what is means to “stay true.”

Why do you think Amber steals?  Why the dress?  Why do you think Emily risks getting kicked out of school to return the dress?

Why happens to Emily while in the Emily Dickinson house?

Discuss this passage, “Being a kid teaches you that you’re the queen of your forest, and then whammo.  You have to pack up your toys and start playing games with real people.  I’m not sure we’re ready for that yet.  I think we should play with our toys for just a little longer.” pg. 127  Then discuss the poem The Safe Way on pg. 137.