Around the Web
Around the Web
When I’m reviewing books for professional publications, I stay quiet about them on social media. I’m always really excited once a review comes out to be able to talk about the book, finally! Here’s one of my most recent reviews, which originally appeared in the July 2016 issue of School Library Journal.
Gr 10 Up—Something wicked comes to Virginia’s elite Acheron Academy in this modern retelling of one of Shakespeare’s darkest works. Overachiever and second-most-popular girl Maria, who is bisexual, and her scheming girlfriend, Lily, who is disabled and a lesbian, are determined to have Maria win the coveted Kingsley Prize, which guarantees entrance into any college and will enable the couple to stay together after high school. A séance reveals cryptic prophecies and opens the door to a plethora of spirits, leaving the girls unable to control their own action. Their cruel and manipulative plans to unseat the most popular girl are just the first of many schemes that go horribly wrong. Before long, Maria and Lily are not the only ones admitting to interacting with spirits. Students are having bad dreams, hearing phantom noises, and seeing ghosts. The couple’s desire for power grows, and what looked like ruthlessness now seems like madness. As the tragedy unfolds, no one at Acheron is safe—least of all Maria and Lily. Talley’s novel is ambitious but successfully so. The work address racism, classism, and homophobia, all couched in a horror retelling of Macbeth. Notably, all four of the main characters—Maria, Lily, Mateo, and Brandon—are not straight. Those familiar with the source material will not be surprised at how the story plays out, but knowing the eventual outcomes does not diminish Talley’s dark tale about fate and ambition. VERDICT A highly recommended, absorbing read with wide appeal.—Amanda MacGregor, Great River Regional Library, Saint Cloud, MN
Today as part of the #MHYALit Discussion we are honored to host author Jodie Andrefski. You can find out more about the #MHYALit Discussion and see the posts here.
In The Society, the main character, Sam, had been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and then did not receive mental health treatment. On top of that, she was going through an extremely stressful time in her life—her father went to prison, her parents divorced, and she was the victim of extreme bullying. Sam felt like she just didn’t fit in at school, and often fell into the low side of her bi-polar disorder, the depression side. Because she did not have a positive support system in place that she turned to, Sam ended up dealing with all of the stressors in her life in a very unhealthy manner. And unfortunately, Sam is not alone in this.
Too many teens are going through similar stressors in their lives, whether they’ve been given a mental health diagnosis or not. In fact, many teens are not even afforded mental health care because they don’t realize that help is out there or because they themselves or the people around them, don’t recognize the signs that there is a deeper problem. Something more than a “bad day.” Or they may not have health care coverage, so they think that there are no options available. Too often, these teens may feel like there is no hope in the midst of the depression they are feeling. I’m here to encourage you and tell you that this is not the case.
In my previous work as a county crisis worker, I’ve met with many teens dealing with issues very similar to Sam’s—stress from school, home, friends, relationships, and more. The common thread that I saw repeated was how each teen felt alone or as if they didn’t fit in, and that no one would really understand what they were feeling or experiencing. As a result, it often took a long time for the individuals to reach out. They may have first tried to deal with their stress using unhealthy coping mechanisms like acting out, withdrawing from their friends or social activities, self-harming, using drugs or alcohol, or, in extreme cases, attempting suicide. This is an alarming trend.
While it’s completely normal for teens to have a rollercoaster of emotions, feeling down for an extended period of time could be a red flag that something more is going on. Some signs to look for either in yourself or a friend who you may suspect may be dealing with depression are:
The reality is, a startling number of teens are dealing with depression and other mental health disorders, with teen girls being more than three times more likely to be diagnosed with depression than boys. According to the 2014 SAMSHA report, approximately 2.8 million adolescents in the US aged 12 to 17 had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. That’s over 11 percent of the adolescent population, and according to some recent studies, that number is rising. We need to be aware of what to look for, and reach out to friends and our kids if we see them exhibiting warning signs.
There is help out there. Each county has crisis hotlines to call where you can talk to a trained crisis counselor if you feel like you are going through a tough time and don’t know where to turn. Even if you don’t have medical insurance, there is no charge to call a crisis hotline. There are also some great websites available with resources on depression and other mental health issues, as well as stressors like bullying like Sam faced.
If you are being bullied or are feeling depressed or having thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else, there is help out there. Please reach out.
Some websites to visit are:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
To Write Love on Her Arm https://twloha.com/
If you would like to chat right away to a trained crisis counselor via text message, send a text to 741741, and a counselor will respond via text message. (Part of TWLOHA)
You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1 (800) 273-8255
Counselors are available 24/7 in both Spanish and English languages.
Jodie Andrefski lives in a tiny town in PA that no one has ever heard of with her teenage daughter. She received her BS in Secondary English Education from Penn State, then taught a few years before changing focus and going back to school for her Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling.
Andrefski always loved both reading and writing, and wrote for several websites and magazines before deciding to write novels. She writes YA Contemporary, most of which involves at least some kissing. The Girlfriend Request was her debut novel through Entangled Crush, and The Society is her most recent release through Entangled Teen in May 2016. She’s a firm believer that just about anything can be cured with chocolate or by watching an episode or two of a favorite show on Netflix.
Welcome to Trinity Academy’s best-kept secret.
You’ve been handpicked by the elite of the elite to become a member. But first you’ll have to prove your worth by making it through Hell Week.
Do you have what it takes?
It’s time to find out.
Samantha Evans knows she’d never get an invite to rush the Society—not after her dad went to jail for insider trading. But after years of relentless bullying at the hands of the Society’s queen bee, Jessica, she’s ready to take down Jessica and the Society one peg at a time from the inside out.
All it’ll take is a bit of computer hacking, a few fake invitations, some eager rushees…and Sam will get her revenge.
Let the games begin. (Published 2016 by Entangled Teen)
From a very young age, I was obsessed with The Twilight Zone. My very favorite episode is the episode Time Enough At Last where the banker survives the end of the world and finally has time to read all the books he wants and then he breaks his glasses and there is no one left to fix them for him. Noooo!! This dream come true episode becomes my worst nightmare.
My other favorites include those episodes where something seems just a little bit off about a town or a society. Like when we find out that the girl who just wants to be beautiful and fit in is an outcast does in fact meet conventional beauty standards, it’s just that the world around her is so very different. Or we find out that a town is really inhabited by aliens.
Which brings me to today’s book lists. You see, I like quirky towns. Not just Stars Hollow quirky, but town with mysteries or secrets. Think Twin Peaks or Wayward Pines. It’s one of the reasons why I love A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd, about a town that once had magic but seems to have lost it (great book, please read it). So today’s list is all about town that have quirky characteristics, dark secrets, or some other thing that makes it not quite like a regular town.
Publisher’s Book Description: Paraffin, Vermont, is known the world over as home to the Grosholtz Candle Factory. But behind the sunny retail space bursting with overwhelming scents and homemade fudge, seventeen-year-old Poppy Palladino discovers something dark and unsettling: a back room filled with dozens of startlingly life-like wax sculptures, crafted by one very strange old lady. Poppy hightails it home, only to be shocked when one of the figures—a teenage boy who doesn’t seem to know what he is—jumps naked and screaming out of the trunk of her car. She tries to return him to the candle factory, but before she can, a fire destroys the mysterious workshop—and the old woman is nowhere to be seen.
With the help of the wax boy, who answers to the name Dud, Poppy resolves to find out who was behind the fire. But in the course of her investigation, she discovers that things in Paraffin aren’t always as they seem, that the Grosholtz Candle Factory isn’t as pure as its reputation—and that some of the townspeople she’s known her entire life may not be as human as they once were. In fact, they’re starting to look a little . . . waxy. Can Poppy and Dud extinguish the evil that’s taking hold of their town before it’s too late? (Coming August 2nd, 2016 from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Karen’s Thoughts: This was a very fun read that I thought would make a classic TZ episode. And like Human.4 below, it works really well for all ages, including younger middle school students.
Publisher Book Description: Twin Peaks meets Stars Hollow in this paranormal suspense novel about a boy who can reach inside people and steal their innermost things—fears, memories, scars, even love—and his family’s secret ritual that for centuries has kept the cliff above their small town from collapsing.
Aspen Quick has never really worried about how he’s affecting people when he steals from them. But this summer he’ll discover just how strong the Quick family magic is—and how far they’ll go to keep their secrets safe.
With a smart, arrogant protagonist, a sinister family tradition, and an ending you won’t see coming, this is a fast-paced, twisty story about power, addiction, and deciding what kind of person you want to be, in a family that has the ability to control everything you are. (Kathy Dawson Books June 2016)
Karen’s Thoughts: This is an utterly fascinating book about privilege, consent, power and morality. The basic premise – that people can steal a part of your mind and control you – is creepy as all get out, but it makes a good foundation from some serious reflection and discussion.
There’s a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the strange power that fuels the town exacts its payment by infecting teens with deadly urges. In a normal year in Gardnerville, teens might stop talking to their best friends. In a fourth year, they’d kill them.
Four years ago, Skylar’s sister, Piper, was locked away after leading sixteen of her classmates to a watery grave. Since then, Skylar has lived in a numb haze, struggling to forget her past and dull the pain of losing her sister. But the secrets and memories Piper left behind keep taunting Skylar—whispering that the only way to get her sister back is to stop Gardnerville’s murderous cycle once and for all. (Harper Teen 2014)
Karen’s Thoughts: I don’t remember a lot of the specifics of this book, but it’s been 2 years since I have read it and it still often comes to mind. It is truly eerie and haunting.
Publisher’s Book Description: Kyle Straker volunteered to be hypnotized at the annual community talent show, expecting the same old lame amateur acts. But when he wakes up, his world will never be the same. Televisions and computers no longer work, but a strange language streams across their screens. Everyone’s behaving oddly. It’s as if Kyle doesn’t exit.
Is this nightmare a result of the hypnosis? Will Kyle wake up with a snap of fingers to roars of laughter? Or is this something much more sinister?
Narrated on a set of found cassette tapes at an unspecified point in the future, Human.4 is an absolutely chilling look at technology gone too far. (Egmont 2011)
Karen’s Thoughts: I read this book years ago. I bought this book. It’s very entertaining and interesting. And yes, it was the first book that made me go: this would make a great Twilight Zone episode!
Publisher’s Book Description: Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps—gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza went missing, the people of Bone Gap weren’t surprised. After all, it wasn’t the first time that someone had slipped away and left Finn and Sean O’Sullivan on their own. Just a few years before, their mother had high-tailed it to Oregon for a brand new guy, a brand new life. That’s just how things go, the people said. Who are you going to blame?
Finn knows that’s not what happened with Roza. He knows she was kidnapped, ripped from the cornfields by a dangerous man whose face he cannot remember. But the searches turned up nothing, and no one believes him anymore. Not even Sean, who has more reason to find Roza than anyone, and every reason to blame Finn for letting her go.
As we follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap—their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures—acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are. (Balzer & Bray 2015)
Karen’s Thoughts: Naming this list quirky towns basically defies the exquisiteness of this title. This isn’t so much a “quirky” town as it is a haunting town that will stick to your bones. It’s now a Printz Award Winner, in part because of it’s haunting brilliance and storytelling. It most reminds me in style and tone of Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, which in my book is the highest compliment I can give it. But it is also truly unique, compelling and memorable. Also, it drops some important feminist truth bombs. I got a signed copy for The Teen at ALA because I hope this will be a book that she will read again and again and cherish forever.
What are your favorite books that take place in a quirky town? Please add to this list by sharing your recommendations in the comments.
This year is a big year for video games. Pokemon Go is sweeping the nation, and there is new hardware being released for the Big 3 consoles: Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo within the next 12 months. Many libraries are still circulating older console games for Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii, and justifiably so since many patrons have yet to make the jump. So, what does all this new hardware mean for libraries?
Nintendo Miniature NES
Release Date: November 11, 2016
What’s New: This cute little system is preloaded with 30 classic NES games. This is AWESOME for gamers who want a throwback experience, or show teens how difficult video games used to be back in the day. It’ll come with its own NES-like controller, but it can also hook up to your Wii/Wii U remotes.
Games: Games will come preloaded on the system, so you don’t have to worry about purchasing extra games for a circulating collection.
Should librarians buy it for programs?: Absolutely. This is going to be a gem for library gaming programs, that is, if you don’t already have a Raspberry Pi. You can justify spending $60 because it will be used program after program, and will also have crossover appeal for all ages. Adults, especially Millennials, will play for the sake of nostalgia. Teens will like it because it’s new content, and these games are really hard. Heck, even kids will want to attempt to beat The Legend of Zelda even though there is no hope for them!
Release Date: October 13, 2016
Price: Launch bundle is priced at $499
What’s New: The PlayStation VR is strictly used for virtual reality games. You’re not paying for a whole new console, instead you’re paying just for the headset. You also already have to have the PS4 and PS4 Camera, which is sold separately.
Virtual reality games are pretty controversial in the gaming community. Some predict VR is the “future of gaming”, but VR has many obstacles to overcome before it becomes a staple in the gaming world. That being said, I’m really excited for VR gaming because it is a whole new way to get immersed in a fictional universe (as long as you don’t get motion sickness).
Games: There will be new games released solely for PlayStation VR. They already have Star Wars Battlefront ready to go, as well as 50 other titles. However, I do not believe libraries should start buying these games for circulating collections quite yet. It’s hard to say whether or not the PlayStation VR will be a success, and even then the people who will be purchasing the headset can probably afford to buy the games for themselves. Keep your ear to the ground for any of your patrons expressing interest.
Should librarians buy it for programs?: If librarians are looking to purchase a VR headset, it is not the worst but it’s not the best either. However, it is one of the cheaper VR headsets in the market that is also of decent quality. I would recommend checking out this list of VR headsets and corresponding reviews to learn more about VR before purchasing it. Personally, if my library had infinite money I would buy the HTC Vive, but that’s just me.
Release Date: August 2nd, 2016
Price: Ranging from $299-$399 (depends on the size of the hard drive)
What’s New: A lot more storage (you can get up to 2TB when you pre-order), a slimmer design, displays in 4K Ultra HD (basically, really fancy pants graphics) and a better wireless controller. Xbox gamers need all that extra space because when you want to play a game, the entire game gets downloaded to the game system. I know plenty of gamers who have purchased an external hard drive just to save their Xbox games!
Games: Xbox One games will be compatible for the Xbox One S. You will not have to order separate games for this console.
Should librarians buy it for programs?: I’m going to say no. Xbox One S’s main feature is the storage and the 4K Ultra HD experience, but how many libraries have a 4K Ultra HD TV? I’m guessing not that many. If you need extra storage, you can always purchase an external hard drive rather than buying a whole new system.
Xbox One is on sale though!: In lieu of the Xbox One S getting released soon, Xbox One console bundles are priced at around $275. If you want to upgrade your library program consoles, now is a good time to do it since many companies are trying to empty their stock!
Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!
By: Alanna Graves
It’s time for another roundup for new and forthcoming YA (and sometimes not YA) books featuring LGBTQIA+ characters. The titles I’m including here have LGBTQIA+ main characters as well as secondary characters (in some cases parents). Know of a title I missed in this list? Or know of a forthcoming title that should be on my radar for an upcoming list? Leave a comment or tweet me @CiteSomething. This list covers July 2016 and August 2016 titles. Head over to this link for the previous post (May and June 2016 titles) in this series. All annotations here are via the publishers.
Help! There’s nothing on my list. If you know of any, leave the titles in the comments or tweet me @CiteSomething.
In the summer of 2015, LGBTQ+ athletes were everywhere. The world watched as soccer star Abby Wambach kissed her wife on the heels of the US women’s World Cup victory. Milwaukee Brewers’ minor league first baseman David Denson came out as a gay man. And Caitlyn (born Bruce) Jenner, an Olympic decathlete, came out as transgender.
Yet it hasn’t always been this way. When tennis great Billie Jean King was outed in 1981, she lost all her endorsements—overnight. Many great athletes have stayed in the closet their whole lives, or at least until retirement. And young transgender athletes across the nation are fighting for equal access to school teams, locker rooms, and bathrooms of the gender with which they identify.
Social attitudes, institutional policies, and laws are slow to change, but they are catching up. Title IX legislation outlaws discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. The National Collegiate Athletic Association has antidiscrimination policies that support LGBTQ+ inclusion at all levels. Together, athletes, coaches, families, educators, allies, and fans are pushing for competitive equity so that every athlete, regardless of identity, can have the opportunity to play at their very best.
It’s like the apocalypse came, only instead of nuclear bombs and zombies, Mike gets school participation, gay thoughts, and mother-effin’ cheerleaders.
Junior year is about to start. Here’s what Mike Tate knows:
His friends are awesome and their crappy garage band is a great excuse to drink cheap beer. Rook Wallace is the devil. The Lemonheads rock. And his girlfriend Lisa is the coolest. Then Lisa breaks up with him, which makes Mike only a little sad, because they’ll stay friends and he never knew what to do with her boobs anyway. But when Mike finds out why Lisa dumped him, it blows his mind. And worse—he gets elected to homecoming court.
With a standout voice, a hilariously honest view on sex and sexuality, and enough f-bombs to make your mom blush, this debut YA novel is a fresh, modern take on the coming-out story.
A weekend retreat in the woods and an innocent game of three truths and a lie go horribly wrong in this high-octane psychological thriller filled with romantic suspense by a Lambda Award–winning author.
Deep in the forest, four friends gather for a weekend of fun.
Truth #1: Rob is thrilled about the weekend trip. It’s the perfect time for him to break out of his shell…to be the person he really, really wants to be.
Truth #2: Liam, Rob’s boyfriend, is nothing short of perfect. He’s everything Rob could have wanted. They’re perfect together. Perfect.
Truth #3: Mia has been Liam’s best friend for years…long before Rob came along. They get each other in a way Rob could never, will never, understand.
Truth #4: Galen, Mia’s boyfriend, is sweet, handsome, and incredibly charming. He’s the definition of a Golden Boy…even with the secrets up his sleeve.
One of these truths is a lie…and not everyone will live to find out which one it is.
The climactic final installment of New York Times bestseller Elizabeth George’s award-winning saga.
Seth Darrow is a straightforward guy, and he likes life to be simple. Lately, it’s been anything but.
Since his beloved grandfather’s stroke, Seth has been focused on getting Grand home again, before his aunt can take advantage of the situation to get her hands on Grand’s valuable real estate. Seth would also like to get his relationship with Prynne on solid ground. He loves her, but can he believe she has her drug use under control?
Meanwhile, things are complicated for the other Whidbey Island friends. Derric has found Rejoice, the sister he left behind in Uganda, but no one – including Rejoice – knows she is his sister. Jenn is discovering feelings for her teammate Cynthia, feelings her born-again Christian mother would never find acceptable. And Becca, hiding under a false identity since her arrival on the island, is concealing the biggest secret of all.
In the final book of the Whidbey Island saga, events build to an astonishing climax as secrets are revealed, hearts are broken, and lives are changed forever.
Gideon always has a plan. It includes running for class president, becoming head of the yearbook committee, and having his choice of colleges. It does NOT include falling head over heels for his best friend, Kyle. It’s a distraction, it’s pointless—Kyle is already dating the head cheerleader, Ruby—and Gideon doesn’t know what to do.
Kyle finally feels like he has a handle on life. He has a wonderful girlfriend, a best friend willing to debate the finer points of Lord of the Rings, and social acceptance as captain of the basketball team. So when both Ruby and Gideon start acting really weird, just as his spot on the team is threatened, Kyle can’t quite figure out what he did wrong.
Sandy Hall, the author of A Little Something Different, is back with her signature wit in this quirky and heartfelt LGBT YA novel.
Joanna meets the perfect girl for her and must decide whether to break a promise that could change everything for her and her family or lose out on love in this charming young adult romance that’s perfect for fans of Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’ and Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.
Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.
Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?
On July 13, 2016, the most amazing letter to the editor appeared in the Mount Vernon News regarding the Teen MakerSpace at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH). I tracked down the community member who had written the letter and got her permission to reproduce it here.
As you can imagine, this was amazing to read. Such a pleasant surprise. There are 2 Teen MakerSpace assistants and the three of us spent some time texting back and forth this day about how awesome this feedback was. Some of us might also have mentioned tearing up. I am so proud of this space that we have put together and this amazing staff and all the work we are doing.
Today we’re participating in the Thank God It’s Monday! blog tour to help celebrate the upcoming release of Jessica Brody’s book A WEEK OF MONDAYS. You can read Jessica’s guest post about her book here. My review is coming later this month.
You can check out what other bloggers are saying about their best and worst Mondays by following the hashtags #TGIM and #AWeekofMondays on social media and by following Jessica on Twitter @JessicaBrody. Tell us about your best and worst Mondays, too! They can be real or your made-up dream/nightmare Mondays. Here are mine:
My alarm doesn’t go off and I’m late for school. My mom’s a teacher and my dad’s the principal (is this sounding WORST enough yet?) at my school, but apparently they left without me and now I have to walk to school. I get there and try to sign myself in saying I had an appointment, but my dad’s office is right next to the attendance desk and he busts me. The secretary makes a tsk as she marks me absent on my record (a record she, in real life, would go on to make a photocopy of and present to me right before graduation, noting I had the dubious distinction of being in the top ten in my class both academically and for most absences–thanks, two rounds of mono, a deep hatred for high school, and a journalism pass that allowed me to leave for lots of “assignments”). I start to head to my locker but can’t seem to remember where it is. I finally find it because I remember Jenny has plastered the front of our lockers with pictures of Michael Stipe and a countdown for going to see REM. I can’t get in my locker. Of course. I try to sneak into my class unnoticed (like that is even possible) and get called up to the board to solve an algebra problem. I put on antennas and talk about sending a potato through a potato machine, which seems to satisfy my teacher. I’m unprepared for every class and panic because I am NEVER unprepared for class. I can’t find my notes, there are tests in every subject, and I can never get into my blasted locker—sometimes the handle is gone and I can’t find a way to open it, or a new wall has gone up and my locker is now behind it, or I just can’t remember the combination.
The worst part? I know I’m not supposed to be here at all.
I know I graduated a super long looooong time ago. I have a master’s degree! I tell my teachers. They don’t care. Apparently I missed some requirement and have to go back. Just for today? I wonder. No. I have to redo all of high school or my college degrees are revoked and I have to pay back all my student loans all over again (now we’re really talking WORST, right?). I remember how terrible high school was the first time around, but at least then I was surrounded by equally angsty and miserable peers. Now I’m nearly 40 and no one will be friends with me and it’s not just that I’m in high school but that I’m in high school AGAIN. So I continue to take tests that I bomb, and go to class without my textbooks, and wonder what I did to end up back in high school, knowing I apparently have four more years of this nightmare. And the day ends, but I know I’ll have to do it all over again tomorrow. Worst Monday ever.
My alarm goes off at 5:45 and I wake up immediately. I nudge my husband awake and say, Good lord, I had that dream again where I’m sent back to high school because I missed some requirement. Then I wonder why I never dream about elementary school or graduate school. Is it because I so desperately hated high school? Because I live in a world of YA books set in high schools? Or because we never stop reliving the trauma of adolescence? Who knows. All I do know is that this Monday doesn’t hold unexpected tests or forgotten locker combinations or anyone grading me. I’ll do some reading and writing, I’ll hang out with my husband, kid, and dachshunds, and I’ll be forever grateful that no one can actually send me back to high school.
Oh yeah–my 20th high school reunion is this weekend. I can’t go because I don’t want to. 20 years is still not far enough removed for me to feel any kind of nostalgia for that time. Maybe once I stop having nightmares about high school, I’ll reassess my feelings. But for now? I’ll leave that time in my life to half-remembered dreams, old journals, zines, mixtapes, and boxes of pictures. Waking up and remembering that I’m 20 years removed from high school? Best Monday ever.
Sixteen-year-old Ellison Sparks is having a serious case of the Mondays. She gets a ticket for running a red light, she manages to take the world’s worst school picture, she bombs softball try-outs and her class election speech (note to self: never trust a cheerleader when she swears there are no nuts in her bake-sale banana bread), and to top it all off, Tristan, her gorgeous rocker boyfriend suddenly dumps her. For no good reason!
As far as Mondays go, it doesn’t get much worse than this. And Ellie is positive that if she could just do it all over again, she would get it right. So when she wakes up the next morning to find she’s reliving the exact same day, she knows what she has to do: stop her boyfriend from breaking up with her. But it seems no matter how many do-overs she gets or how hard Ellie tries to repair her relationship, Tristan always seems bent set on ending it. Will Ellie ever figure out how to fix this broken day? Or will she be stuck in this nightmare of a Monday forever?
From the author 52 Reasons to Hate My Father and The Unremembered trilogy comes a hilarious and heartwarming story about second (and third and fourth and fifth) chances. Because sometimes it takes a whole week of Mondays to figure out what you really want.
Jessica Brody is the author of several popular books for teens, including the Unremembered trilogy, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, and The Karma Club, as well as two adult novels. She splits her time between California and Colorado. Find out more at jessicabrody.com. Jessica is on Twitter @JessicaBrody.
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 08/02/2016
They say that 2016 is the worst year ever. It’s easy to think that, we’ve already had more mass shootings then I could ever imagine, bombings, and now political coups. When you think about the statistics that are out there, it can be overwhelming for adults. But I want us to step into the mind of a teen for a moment and see the world from their perspective.
For the purposes of this post, I will use my teen as an example, but you have to remember that in many ways, she comes from a place of privilege. She is female, which comes with its own challenges and baggage, but she is a white female. She has an intact nuclear family and though we struggle financially, she still technically lives in a middle class family. She has a home with her own room, we eat three meals a day, and she participates in some extra curricular activities.
She is 14.
She was born in 2002, which means that she has never lived in a time when the U.S. was not engaged in war.
She wakes up weekly to news of another mass shooting or a bombing.
We live 20 minutes from Dallas so one of the most recent events hit particularly close to home. Two people we know personally were police officers during that event, though both are safe.
She has done active shooter drills in school since she was in Kindergarten, age 5.
Her school has been on lock down at least once every year of her life.
When she was in 2nd grade, a Kindergarten student in their school was beat to death by his father. The school planted a tree on school grounds in his memory.
Every time we go into Dallas for something, she sees no less than 10 homeless people. She cries every time.
She goes to church every weekend where they tell her that GLBTQ people are sinners, but 3 of her friends that she loves are openly out teens. Another is an elementary school age person who we know wants to eventually transition but currently won’t because of lack of parental support. She struggles intellectually and emotionally to reconcile her faith and her real world experiences.
We know 4 people who have taken their own lives.
She has 11 cousins and 5 step-cousins. 3 of them are on the Autism spectrum, 1 of them is diagnosed with ADHD and behavioral issues.
She has 1 sister, she has severe food allergies.
She is 1 of 3 teens that she knows that have intact nuclear families, everyone else has parents that are divorced.
She has already lost 1 childhood home, first to flooding and then to foreclosure. In fact, she has now lived through 3 extreme weather events in two different homes.
She has a 1 in 4 chance of having a mental health issue. However, mental health issues have already affected her life as I spent a part of last summer in bed trying waiting for stabilization after a severe depressive episode and panic attacks left me struggling with suicidal ideation.
Although both of her parents work, her father works weekend nights which means she only sees him on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. That’s if mandatory overtime isn’t called, which it often is.
I, her mother, work in another state which means I fly out of town about every other week for a week.
She has already had to move once and start her life over again because of job situations. She may have to again. She knows many other kids who have come into and then back out of her life again for the same reason.
There are times when we have struggled to make ends meets; times when my kids have eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for days.
In our previous neighborhood, we had to walk through parks with needles on the ground.
A week ago Friday as we were turning onto our street, someone shot out the window of our car with a BB gun. It was in the rear passenger’s seat. The seat where she was sitting. It shattered in her face; Though she was uninjured, she is now afraid to drive down that street.
Since she is female, she has a 1 in 3 chance of making it out of her adolescence without being the victim of sexual violence. Four of her friends have already been the victims of sexual violence.
She has already been catcalled.
If we drive anywhere on the freeway to go to the next town to do any shopping, we drive by no less then 7 billboards that sexualize and objectify women as they advertise strip clubs and we pass by 1 XXX store.
She has already been told she is fat. She is not, but I can tell it has affected her.
Someone has stolen something from us at least once every year of her life.
As I mentioned above, she has a lot going in her favor, but this is her life so far. And many of the teens that I have worked with over the years have struggled with so much more than she has. So every time this past week I saw an adult post about how garbage 2016 is – and it very much is – all I could think was, what is this doing to our children? We have to do better. And the time is now.
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