All Info About Teen Reading

A companion blog to All Info About Teen Reading

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Quick Book Review - Keesha's House by Helen Frost

I picked up Keesha's House by Helen Frost from a special "April is Poetry Month" display at the library. I've been a fan of verse novels ever since I read Karen Hesse's Out of the Dust. Alternating narrators reveal stories of troubled teens who find a common safe place. They all have various reasons why they don't feel welcome at home. Stephie is pregnant. Harris just came out to his close-minded family. Katie's stepfather keeps trying to come in her bedroom at night. Staying at "Keesha's house" gives them time to make important decisions and set off on a new path in life, whether that means staying on their own or returning home. Not everyone gets a traditional happy ending, but every story is hopeful. The poems flowed across the page so effortlessly that it wasn't until I read the author's information at the back that I realized they were all written in either sestina or sonnet form. All in all, a book I highly recommend.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Thoughts on 3 Willows: The Sisterhood Grows

I loved the entire Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, so I was interested in seeing how Ann Brasheres' newest book 3 Willows: The Sisterhood Grows would compare.

As three childhood friends face the summer between 8th and 9th grade, it's obvious that they're drifting apart. Jo is more concerned with being part of the "popular" crowd, Ama can't stop focusing on academics, and Polly seems stuck in the past. But they are about to face a surprising summer that will make them reassess their friendship. Polly latches on to the idea of becoming a model. Ama, expecting to attend an academic summer program, instead is placed in a wilderness adventure program, and finds she is not well-suited for roughing it. As Jo's family falls apart and a summer fling causes conflict, she finds out how much the friendship of her new friends is really worth.

I felt that 3 Willows: The Sisterhood Grows very accurately depicted the pain of friends growing apart. Brasheres shows her strength in creating interesting and diverse teen female characters that you can really care about. I could also appreciate the overall message of appreciating the deep roots of true friendship.

My one complaint about the book was that the characters talked about the Sisterhood as if everyone in their school was aware of them and their magical pants. If Brasheres had stuck to cameo appearances, I think it would have been a fun nod to fans of the books. When Jo mentions being coached by Bridget at soccer camp or Polly babysits for Tibby's siblings, those of us who read the Sisterhood books could smile knowingly. Instead, it seemed like the author was trying too hard: "Hey, remember everyone, I wrote this really popular series about four best friends who shared a pair of pants?" I just didn't buy that middle school students talked about Carmen, Tibby, Lena and Bridget as mythical figures.

Still, even with that distraction 3 Willows: The Sisterhood Grows was an enjoyable book, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys Ann Brasheres' work or books about teen friendship and discovery.

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