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.

 

 

Robin Reul Is One To Watch! My Kind Of Crazy Is A Perfect Read For Eleanor & Park Fans.

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It stated out like a grand romantic gesture.  Hank just wanted to ask Amanda to the prom, with sprinklers in her front yard.  But instead he burnt down her tree.  This debacle leads him to a friendship with a new girl, Peyton who likes fire and has a lousy home life.  Hank’s home life is not a picnic either.  His mother and brother were killed in a car accident which leaves him with his heartbroken father.  His other friend may or may not be in a mafia family.  Peyton has a dangerous habit.  She is a bit of a fire bug, lighting leaves and barbie dolls ablaze. In the meantime, Amanda starts a website to find the person who performed this grand romantic gesture.  Hank fills out the questionnaire but his feelings for Peyton grow and he is not sure what to think or who he is supposed to be with.  This is a teen romance about two imperfect people who find a perfect connection.  It has the same realistic and hopeful love that readers found in Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park.  This is Robin Ruel’s first novel for teens and I hope that she writes more.  The story pulls you along and I enjoyed the characters, especially Hank’s father’s stripper girlfriend, Monica.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Discuss this passage, “It’s like they transform from being beautiful to ugly and distorted.  There’s a different kind of beauty in that, I think.  Everything beautiful can be ugly, and everything ugly can be beautiful.  It’s all perspective.  But it’s like you’re the artist with the brush, and everything else is your canvas. “

Discuss when Hank says this about Peyton, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.  It’s not like Peyton’s an enemy, but she’s not exactly a friend.”

Discuss Hank’s relationship with Monica and his dad.

Discuss this passage, “I feel my insides twist.  It’s the truth, but saying it so casually feels like I am throwing Peyton under the bus.  I try to ignore my conscience and focus on Amanda.”

Do you find that life lives up to your expectations?

Discuss this passage, “Sometimes, to help make sense of things, we tell ourselves stories and we convince ourselves that they’re true, but that doesn’t mean they really are.”

Discuss how “everyone needs somebody who gets their kind of crazy, right?  That doesn’t come along every day.” and “Crazy is a relative term.”

Discuss when Monica says, “This is real life, Hank, not some movie.  Every problem doesn’t necessarily have a solution.”

Talk about how Amanda and Peyton are different.  Which one do you relate to?

 Discuss this passage, “Family isn’t about sharing the same blood in your veins; it’s about the people who come into your life and see how completely messed up and nutter you are and then stick around anyway.”

John Green’s Best Book Yet! Please Don’t Read This Post Until You’ve Read The Book

 John Green sums up my feelings about his new book, The Fault In Our Stars, in one of his quotes, ” Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all humans read the book.”  I am a huge fan of John Green.  I’ve loved all of his books for his brilliant writing, hilarious moments of humor, highly intelligent girl characters, and deep human connections.  This book is my new favorite.  16-year-old Hazel has cancer.  She’s had it for a long time and will for however much longer she will live.  She is sheltered.  She attends college classes with her oxygen tank in tow, but her main social interaction is her parents.  Her mother makes her attend a support group, one that is normally depressing and boring.  That is until one day when Isaac brings his friend Augustus.  Augustus is a cancer survivor.  He won’t stop staring at Hazel, which both thrills her and freaks her out at the same time.  You see… Augustus is gorgeous.  With Augustus, Hazel’s world expands as she explores a deep friendship and love.  I don’t want to say more than that.  Sometimes you just have to experience the book and anything I have to say about their beautiful relationship would not give it justice.  Hazel has a favorite book about a girl struggling with cancer.  The author never wrote a follow up and Hazel would love to know what happened to the characters.  When she has a chance to meet her favorite author, who is a bit of a recluse, it makes for an odd experience.  While reading that section I thought about the time I met John Green, who is one of my favorite authors.  He came to my library to talk to teens.  He was extraordinary with them.  Afterward staff had lunch with him and we had a wonderful talk.  He was just as personable and funny as he is on his you tube videos.  I made him a cake that looked like the cover of Looking For Alaska, which would seem weird for anyone who is not part of his fan community.  He told me the cake tasted awesome and seemed to really mean it.  So my experience meeting a noteworthy person I admire was the opposite of Hazel’s.  I felt fully immersed in reading this book.  The characters seemed so real to me and I felt great sadness when they were in pain and struggled.  Teens will love this book, but I am glad I read it as an adult.  When you are a parent and you read this you get another perspective.  Reading this book was a rich experience.  I worried about the characters in between my times to read and couldn’t wait to pick it back up.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Hazel says of her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, “There are books which you can’t tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal.”  Discuss.

Talk about Hazel and Augustus’s connection.  Have you ever had that kind of relationship with someone?  If not, what do you think it would be like?

Compare Augustus to other boys in YA novels you’ve read. 

Talk about the breakup between Isaac and his girlfriend, Monica.  Why would that happen?  Would you do the same thing?

Discuss when Hazel tells Isaac, “Sometimes people don’t understand the promises they’re making when they make them.”

Discuss when Augustus says to Isaac, “That’s the thing about pain.  It demands to be felt.”

Talk about when Augustus and Hazel are in the Anne Frank House and they overhear Otto Frank say, “Most parents don’t know really their children.”

Discuss Hazel’s curiosity about Augustus’s late girlfriend.

Talk about when Hazel met Peter Van Houten.  What would it be like to meet someone you admire?  Do you think you would be disappointed?

Do you watch America’s Next Top Model?