Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine's Day Reads

Celebrate your romantic side!  Come in and check out this month's book display in the Teen Zone, featuring alternative takes on stories of friendship and love.

Here are a few of the books on display:

Accidental Love by Gary Soto
A cell-phone mix-up leads to first love in this warmhearted, humorous novel. Marisa Rodriguez, 14, is an indifferent student at her run-down school, chubby from an excess of junk food, and too quick to express her anger with her fists. Still, she dreams of a better life. When she meets geeky Rene, love blossoms despite his highwater pants, white socks, and honking laugh.

My Heartbeat by Garret Freymann-Weyr
Ellen has been "totally madly in love" with her brother's best friend, James, for years. When a girl at her Manhattan private school mentions that James and Link are "like a couple," Ellen, nonjudgmental but curious, asks the boys if it's okay to agree. "Long silence. I can hear the blood rushing and beating around my ears. 'Yes, it's okay,' James says finally. 'It's not okay,' Link says." Freymann-Weyr sets up a riveting love triangle around Link's sexual ambiguity and Ellen's love for both James and her brother.

After the Kiss by Terra Elan McVoy
Midway through senior year, Camille moves to Atlanta (her family's sixth move). She plans to simply go through the motions until she can escape to Europe after graduation. Meanwhile, at another school in town, Becca is jolted from the dreamlike state of her relationship with Alec when she gets in a fender bender and must find an after-school job to pay back her debt. The girls' lives collide when Camille meets Alec at a party, and, unaware that he is "taken," allows the haiku-spouting-but-athletic catcher to kiss her. Camille tells her side in stream-of-consciousness entries, while Becca speaks in free verse. The way in which they slowly become aware of one another rather than facing a direct confrontation shows that given different circumstances they might have been kindred spirits.

 Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
Seventeen-year-old Marcelo is on the very high-functioning end of the autism spectrum. He prefers an ordered existence, which includes taking care of the ponies at Paterson, his special school; reading religious books; and listening to the music in his head. Then his father, a high-powered attorney, insists that Marcelo spend the summer working in his law firm. If he does his best, Marcelo will be given the choice of returning to Paterson or being mainstreamed. After finding a photo of a disfigured girl injured by the negligence of his father's biggest client, Marcelo must decide whether to follow his conscience and try to right the wrong, even as he realizes that decision will bring irrevocable changes to his life and to his relationship with his father.

 Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have by Allen Zadoff
Life used to be so simple for Andrew Zansky–hang with the Model UN guys, avoid gym class, and eat and eat and eat. He’s used to not fitting in: into his family, his sports-crazed school, or his size 48 pants. But not anymore. Andrew just met April, the new girl at school and the instant love of his life! He wants to find a way to win her over, but how? When O. Douglas, the heartthrob quarterback and high-school legend, saves him from getting beaten up by the school bully, Andrew sees his chance to get in with the football squad. Is it possible to reinvent yourself in the middle of high school? Andrew is willing to try. But he’s going to have to make some changes. Fast.

Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger
John and Marisol have a lot in common. Both have issues with trust and truth-telling, both have problem parents, and both like girls. It's zine writing, though, that brings them together. John admires Marisol's honest, funny writing in her zine, Escape Velocity, and tracks her down to give her the first issue of Bananafish, his own photocopied, stapled-together zine. All goes well with their friendship until John professes his love for Marisol, who's made it clear from the start that she's definitely, emphatically, a lesbian.  He can't keep himself from falling in love with her, a kind of love that she can't return.

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