Sunday, September 6, 2015

Mini Reviews: Never Always Sometimes, One for the Murphys, Zipped, Winterdance

Well, life has really picked up speed here at Falconer's Library, what with going back to work and all.  "And all" so far has mostly consisted of me coming home, taking a nap, eating dinner, and going to bed.  I'm hoping my body will adjust soon and I'll have a tiny bit more energy in the evening.  I suspect my family is hoping the same.  "Mom?  Mom who?"

In the meantime, I'll go back to the lameness of posting some of my short Goodreads reviews--always highly personal responses rather than considered reviews.

Never Always Sometimes by Adi Asaid.  Realistic Fiction YA. 320 pages.  Completed 9/5/15.  4 stars.

A very likable book. Just like its protagonists, it avoids triteness in some areas but embraces cliches that are, after all, cliches for a reason. It is lovely to read a book with so many characters to like, and not really any villains. I also liked how Julia having two dads and a rather distant bio-mom was just a thing, not The Thing. Add in some witty repartee, a perfectly timed POV switch, and some spot on descriptions of the longings of blossoming love--from a male POV, no less!--and Never Always Sometimes is a terrific coming of age story.

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt.  Realistic Fiction YA. 224 pages.  Completed 8/30/15.  2 stars.

I realize people love this book, and that I'm going to sound like a jerk for not liking it. One for the Murphys has its heart in the right place. I even teared up at the end, because, yes, I am human.


I don't buy it. 

My children were adopted from traumatic backgrounds, and it is NOT THIS EASY. Carly is too put together, too functional, and everything is too pat. Her worst behavior is ordering too many dinner rolls and running away for a few hours. We'd consider that a pretty normal day at my house. Also, she efficiently wins over Mr. Murphy, Danny, and Toni--everyone she wants to, basically. It is just not that simple--"Oh, she just needs love and a good example, and she'll be fine." Trauma hard-wires maladaptive behavior, and it takes lots of time and work to change the brain's functionality. 

Also, the dialogue sounded like something I'd write, from my middle aged mom-ness. Hunt, like me, may spend time around teenagers and kids, but she does not have the gift of capturing how they really sound. Think S.E. Hinton, think Matt de la Peña, think Beverly Cleary, think Isabel Quintero. They all captured the way kids talk to each other for real. 

I do give Hunt credit for how she resolves the story. I really would've been pissed if she'd taken the easy way out.

Zipped by Laura McNeal and Tom McNeal.  Realistic Fiction YA.  320 pages.  Completed 8/13/15.  4 stars.

I was struck by how quaint 2003 was. It actually pulled me out of the story a few times. Floppy disks? The family computer? Leaving messages on home phones? 

I really enjoyed the intersecting stories, the messy story arcs, the way the boys sounded like my nephews joking around, and the inclusion of religious and non-religious families without scorn for belief or proselytizing for religion.

Bonus Entry/Blast from the Past, since I realize I already talked about all of these books in my August wrap-up.  

Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod by Gary Paulsen.  Memoir.  272 pages.  Completed in 1995.  5 stars

My dad kept trying to get me to read this. He's kind of a Arctic buff, so I just kept saying, "I don't want to read the sled dog book, thanks." (Kind of like when I was refusing to read the German Dwarf Book, aka Stones from a River. You'd think I'd learn.) So he mailed it to me when I was overseas with no library access and not enough of the local language to enjoy their books. Thank God. One of my colleagues calls Paulsen "Hemingway for middle schoolers" and while I admire the ability of his adventures to attract reluctant boy readers, I would never have guessed how much I'd love his memoir of training to race sled dogs. It's been years since I read it, and two stand-out memories from the book are the painfully hilarious start to his training, being dragged down a dirt road in Minnesota in the hull of a VW bug by his untrained but enthusiastic dog pack and the heartbreak at the end, when...well, you'll have to read it. The ending reminds me of "Never Cry Wolf" in that you've spent the entire book falling in love with a place and the author's connection to nature, only to have the whole thing ripped away at the end by the depressing postscript.

1 comment:

  1. I had pretty much the same thoughts about Never Always Sometimes. And I would probably be frustrated with One For the Murphys too - doesn't sound very realistic.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction


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