Three YA Book Reviews - The Rules for Disappearing, Stargirl and Twisted

What I've discovered the last couple of weeks as these three reviews have sat on my hard drive is, while I like YA well enough, I just don't have much to say when it comes to reviews. Which is why I'm lumping three very different YA books together into one post: a thriller, a message book and a parable. First up, the thriller.

 

rules

 

Synopsis: She's been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky . . . But now that she's been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.

Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they've given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do-or see-that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all of the Suits' rules-and her dad's silence. If he won't help, it's time she got some answers for herself.

But Meg isn't counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who's too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there's only one rule that really matters-survival.

I love the premise of The Rules for Disappearing (★★★★) and especially love it is set in eastern Louisiana. Southern literature, for the win! There were a couple of questions left unanswered at the end, which was irritating until I saw on Goodreads there is another book planned. I'm not entirely sure how this works as a series but I liked it well enough I will read the next book, as well as recommend The Rules for Disappearing to teens I know.

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Next, the message book.

twisted

Synopsis: High school senior Tyler Miller used to be the kind of guy who faded into the background. But since he got busted for doing graffiti on the school, and spent the summer doing outdoor work to pay for it, he stands out like you wouldn't believe. His new physique attracts the attention of queen bee Bethany Milbury, who just so happens to be his father's boss's daughter, the sister of his biggest enemy, and Tyler's secret crush. And that sets off a string of events and changes that have Tyler questioning his place in school, in his family, and in the world.

A writer friend insisted I read Laurie Halse Anderson during my month of YA and this is what I picked up at the library. Twisted (★★★★) is clearly written with an interesting central character that is just on the right side of likable, if barely. But, what teens aren't barely likable? I didn't feel the author show the suicidal tendencies of the MC clearly enough to make me believe he would really kill himself when it came down to it. That the book was from the MC's point of view didn't help with the tension, either. But, I liked how the character found his agency at the end and took charge of his life.

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Next up, the parable.

stargirl

Synopsis:Stargirl. From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High in a burst of color and sound, the hallways hum with the murmur of “Stargirl, Stargirl.” She captures Leo Borlock’s heart with just one smile. She sparks a school-spirit revolution with just one cheer. The students of Mica High are enchanted. At first.

Then they turn on her. Stargirl is suddenly shunned for everything that makes her different, and Leo, panicked and desperate with love, urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her: normal. In this celebration of nonconformity, Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli weaves a tense, emotional tale about the perils of popularity and the thrill and inspiration of first love.

A parable is a short tale that illustrates universal truth, one of the simplest of narratives. It sketches a setting, describes an action, and shows the results. It often involves a character facing a moraldilemma, or making a questionable decision and then suffering the consequences. Though the meaning of a parable is often not explicitly stated, the meaning is not usually intended to be hidden or secret but on the contrary quite straightforward and obvious. (source)

I may be the only person that thinks of Stargirl (★★★★★) as a parable, but it fits the above definition to a "t." The universal truth in Stargirl is to be true to yourself, to be kind above all, to put others first and to meet hatred with love. If those aren't messages Jesus would get behind, I don't know what are. This is the summer reading requirement for sixth grade in our district and I can't imagine a better message for kids going into middle school.