Monthly Archives: September 2012

Where Things Come Back – Review


Title: Where Things Come Back

Author: John Corey Whaley

This book got glowing reviews, but I didn’t buy it when it first came out because I didn’t think a first novel about a kid in small-town Arkansas had much to offer my patrons up here in Connecticut. Then it went and won some serious awards and I had to pay attention – and I’m so, so glad I did.

Where Things Come Back is difficult to describe but easy to read. Here’s the first sentence: “I was seventeen years old when I saw my first dead body.” Intriguing, right? But, that’s still not as eventful as what happens to Cullen Witter over the course of the summer before his senior year of high school. The writing is simple, but there are multiple plots and points of view, and it all adds up to a deceptively sophisticated novel.

-Lisa, Teen Librarian

Bruiser – Review


Title: Bruiser

Author: Neal Shusterman

Tennyson and Bronte are 16-year-old twins, and while they’re not super-close, Tennyson is annoyed that his sister has started dating the school loner Brewster, aka Bruiser, aka “the kid most likely to go to jail.” Bronte convinces her lacross-playing brother that Brewster is just misunderstood, and eventually the boys become friends, too.

Soon, the twins realize that whenever they’re around Brewster, their cuts and bruises disappear, and that he’s covered in new hurts. Somehow he takes on the physical and emotional pain of the people he cares for. Clearly, being a loner is easier for him to handle, but that’s out the window now.

The story is narrated in turn by Tennyson, Bronte, Brewster, and his little brother, Cody, and Shusterman juggles the different voices very well. Tennyson is particularly witty, and it’s a pleasure to follow his transformation from borderline bully to a more sympathetic young man.  It’s difficult to describe Bruiser in a nutshell, but the story is compelling, and your heart goes out to each of the characters in the book (except, of course, for Brewster and Cody’s horrible uncle).

–Lisa, Teen Librarian

Tokyo Heist – Review


Title: Tokyo Heist

Author: Diana Renn

Violet’s lame summer has just taken a quick turn for the better. Her artist father has been commissioned to create a mural for a big company in Japan, and she gets to go along for the ride. Goodbye, Seattle; hello, Tokyo!

The same clients who hired her dad were recently robbed of some Van Gogh sketches, and rumor has it that the thieves were after an even bigger score – an actual Van Gogh painting.  Violet’s new plan for the summer is to explore Tokyo, work on the manga story she’s started writing and drawing, and maybe do a little searching for the mysterious painting on her own.

Fans of manga and all things Japanese will enjoy this, and so will mystery lovers, too. There’s even a teeny bit of romance mixed in, although the mystery is definitely the main attraction here.

–Lisa, Teen Librarian

Swim the Fly – Review


Title: Swim the Fly

Author: Don Calame

Every summer, best friends Matt, Sean, and Coop set themselves a goal. When they were younger their goals were simple, like collect 1,000 golf balls before the end of the season. This year, the goal is fairly epic:  to see a naked girl – not in a magazine or online – a living, breathing naked girl.  The problem? None of them has a girlfriend. In fact, none of them has ever even been on a date, so how they’re going to see a naked girl is anyone’s guess.

As crazy as this goal is, however, it begins to look almost feasible when compared to the situation Matt has gotten himself into. You see, in order to impress the hot new girl on their swim team, Matt has volunteered to swim the fly – the 100-meter butterfly, that is. The thing is, Matt can’t even swim one length of the pool, let along the four lengths that make up the 100-meter race – and how he’s gonna make it through the summer is also anyone’s guess…

This book had me laughing from start to finish. At one point I was literally crying from laughing so hard. (The scene involves laxatives, cross-dressing, and the girls’ locker room. How could you not cry?)  Matt is an awesome narrator, and his friends and family are equally appealing. Everything about this book is fab, especially the fact that Coop and Sean have their own stories to tell in Beat the Band and Call the Shots.

–Lisa, Teen Librarian

12 Things to Do Before You Crash and Burn – Review


Title: 12 Things to Do Before You Crash and Burn

Author: James Proimos

Hercules Martino’s dad just died, but he’s not too broken up about it because his dad was a major jerk. Still, Herc’s been acting like a major jerk himself, so his mom ships him down to Baltimore to spend a couple weeks with his uncle and pull himself together.  On the train, Herc sits next to the Girl of His Dreams but doesn’t do anything about it. Soon after he arrives, Uncle Anthony gives Herc 12 things to do before summer’s over. Things like

  • Find the best pizza joint in town
  • Go on 7 job interviews in one day
  • Eat a meal with a stranger

Herc alternates between searching for Girl of His Dreams and completing Uncle Anthony’s 12-part project, and of course, the two eventually collide.

This is probably the shortest YA book I’ve ever read (120 pages). I wish it was twice as long because I wanted more of Hercules, more of his snarky commentary, and more about his epic adventures.

–Lisa, Teen Librarian