Wednesday, November 26, 2003

I want to thank our fellow blogger for recommending She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders, by Jennifer Finney Boylan. What an incredible story. Boylan tells the story of her life as a transexual with humor and heart. She gives us an honest portrayal of what it was like to keep the dark secret for so many years, and then come to the realization that although she loved and was loved by many people, that her transexuality could not be cured by love. What I was most touched by was the fact that her wife, Grace, and her best friend, Richard Russo, were struggling to understand and accept Boylan's transition from man to woman, yet they stood by and supported her every step of the way. It is a story of true love and friendship. I hope that someday if life calls, I can be this supportive and show such unconditional love to my loved ones.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger, was not hard for me to love at all. It takes place in the Boston area and Cape Cod. John (aka Gio) and Marisol are so real and likeable and unlikeable at the same time. Their characters define what is so beautiful about being human: we are all so complex and changeable and multi-layered and darn it all, we want to be loved. John and Marisol become friends through their hobby of writing zines. John totally falls for Marisol despite the fact that she is a lesbian. And like the title says, love is hard.

Friday, November 14, 2003

One should never recommend a book based solely on its review in "Publisher's Weekly," but I just wanted to give you all a heads-up on a new YA book called Flavor of the Week by Tucker Shaw. It sounds awesome. Feel free to vote me off the island if you are offended by my recommendation made without reading. But, I have a feeling that none of the hip book readers here will be disappointed with this title.
Here's a description from Amazon:
Cyril Bartholomew isn't exactly everyone's idea of a dream date -- he's a little on the heavy side. Not that he gets pushed around or anything, but it does cause him to keep one very important secret from everyone: he loves to cook. The only person who knows this secret is his best friend, Nick. Nick is just about the opposite of Cyril-he's a really attractive track star who is cool in a rebellious sort of way. Cyril has never been jealous of Nick, though. . .until the day that Nick decides he is interested in Rose Mulligan, Cyril's long-time secret crush. Flavor of the Week is a classic love triangle between three very unclassic teens, with lots of delicious food courses in between. Plus, over 15 amazing recipes to help you take care of the hunger pangs this book is sure to bring on.

***Okay, I admit it, it's the food thing that caught me.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Recent Recommended Reads.

Shopaholic by Judy Waite YA

The Dream Collector by Troon Harrison Picture Book

ABC: A Child's First Alphabet Book by Alison Jay Picture Book (I can't even tell you how much I love this book!)

Achoo! Bang! Crash!: the Noisy Alphabet by Ross MacDonald Picture Book

Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French Picture Book

I'm currently in the middle of a chapter book, Goose Girl by Shannon Hale. It's a beautifully written story. Honestly, I have read several passages over and over again because the language is so poetic. I think this book will appeal to so many readers: it's got fantasy, horses, a touch of romance, adventure, royalty, deceit and a strong connection to nature.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

A co-worker pointed out a new non-fiction book that takes place in the town I went to high school in (Pittsfield, MA) and I felt compelled to see the city through someone else's eyes. "Growing Up Fast" by Joanna Lipper is supposed to be about teen mothers living in Pittsfield, but I found it to be much more than that. Pittsfield used to be a pretty nice place to live with plenty of union jobs from General Electric and great scenery to boot. Many areas are still nice but, in recent years, GE has downsized its operations, PCBs were found all over the city plummeting real estate values, drug dealers fron NY have moved in and locals have moved out looking for work, any work that can support their families. The girls in this book were growing up during this change in the community. Many of their parents got laid off or were using drugs or both and most of the girls got caught up with young men who were just as confused and immature or were older dealers who seem to have been just using the girls. Not the cheeriest read, I'll grant but Lipper does an excellent job of revealing the struggles that these girls and their families are going through.
I also recently finished both Despereaux and The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things , two books that Allison has mentioned, and really enjoyed both.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Macee--She's Not There: a life in two genders sounds incredible. Your review alone nearly brought me to tears.

I've got two books to tell you about today.

Clara Gillow Clark recently published Hill Hawk Hattie. It's a story of a girl and her Pa who are trying to rebuild their lives after the loss of Hattie's Ma. Pa has become so mean since Ma's death and Hattie Belle is getting meaner by the second. Suddenly, Pa seems less proud of his girl and lets her know that things would be so much easier if she were a boy. Maybe Hattie just reminds him of his dear wife? Hattie chops off her braids and writes an entry in the diary her Ma left behind (her one comfort) apologizing to Ma for cutting her hair. Pa disguises Hattie as a boy and they take a wild raft ride down the Delaware River. Hattie and Pa make new friends and learn to love one another again as they combat the tempestuous river. The writing flows with movement of the river. It's a beautiful book and perfect for fourth and fifth graders.

Now, for those rebellious teens (and maybe for those of us who have grown out of our rebellious teens but still do things like pierce our noses!) The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler, is one of the best coming of age novels for teenage girls that I have read in a long time.
Here's what's happening in Virginia's life:
--she's battling her weight and the plus size section at Saks--where her Mom insists that she shops
--she wants a boyfriend
--she must come to terms with the fact that her brother is not the stellar character that she always believed
--she is lonely and missing her best friend on earth

...and so much more. Virginia faces all these trials with a unique voice and fun solutions. She realizes that her own thoughts and reactions to her family members are valid--and that she looks great with purple hair! This is a must read for parents of teenage girls, teenage girls, people working with teenage girls... It has a lot to teach us about body image and the realities of family life and communcation!