...That I didn't have time to post individual reviews for. Hold on, folks, this is gonna be a long one.
Now, whenever I recommend books on poverty in America, I always mention this one along with Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed: On not Getting By in America. Together, I think they paint a fairly accurate picture of why upward mobility in the US is so difficult.
5 out of 5 stars.
More reviews behind the jump: War is Boring by David Axe, The Card-Turner by Louis Sachar, Shine by Lauren Myracle, Bumped by Megan McCafferty, When You are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris, and The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson.
3 out of 5 stars.
I'd like to take this moment to say that there is no shame in hiring a voice actor to read your work when your own voice in unsuitable for the narration. Sachar's voice does not sound like a teenager's, and that's something that irked me the whole way through.
Overall, okay. 3 out of 5 stars.
Cat, the narrator, is a fish out of water. She likes to read and is bent on finishing high school and moving away from Black Creek for good. Her life is turned upside down when her "light in the loafers" (read: gay) childhood friend, Patrick, is attacked, beaten, and left tied to a guardrail near the convenience store where he worked. As she attempts to unravel what happened to Patrick that night, she must confront the homophobia and fear of her fellow townspeople as well as the ignorance of those outside of her community. Myracle does an excellent job sympathetically portraying the realities of rural poverty while not whitewashing its darker aspects.
Impressive. 4 out of 5 stars.
*This is not really the case these days; according to my professors, meth use has declined and prescription drug abuse has shot back up thanks to new restrictions on the purchase of meth ingredients like Sudafed.
This is the world Melody is born into; her entire life revolves around her contract and the boy her contracted family is picking out for her. Her identical twin sister (they were separated at birth), Harmony, is a member of a religious order that considers baby-selling sinful, and arrives on Melody's front door to convince her to see the error of her ways and bring her to Harmony's community. Identical-twin chaos and hijinx ensue.
Unfortunately, the story and characters frequently fell flat. Most of the characters were underdeveloped. Harmony is particularly two-dimensional; preachy and irritating in a stereotypical way. You can see the plot twists coming from a mile away, and the ending was all too predictable. I think this is mostly because the book wasn't long enough (I can't believe I'm saying this...), and McCafferty was trying to accomplish more than the length of the novel would allow. I also wasn't much of a fan of her notion that that situation was totally new and unique. People exploiting pregnant teenagers and paying top dollar for "perfect" adoptable infants has been going on since the 1940's, and the omission of that reality from the novel left a pretty bad taste in my mouth.
Blah, disappointing, but I'll probably read the sequel. 3 out of 5 stars.
Oh, and don't get the audiobook. Sedaris has one of the most grating voices I've ever heard. 3 out of 5 stars.
4 out of 5 stars.