Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A couple of honorable books

Flash burnout: a novel by L.K. Madigan

Fifteen-year-old Blake lives a pretty good life. He has a beautiful girlfriend, two loving parents and a passion for comedy and photography. When his friend Marissa (She’s just a friend!), recognizes her mother in a photo Blake took, Blake’s life starts getting more complicated than he ever would have imagined.

Marissa’s mother is a meth addict living on the streets.

Blake is torn between his loyalty to and worry for his friend and his openness with and love for his girlfriend. High school isn’t supposed to be this serious.

The story is told in Blake’s words and views, giving the reader an inside look at his confusion, indecision and, sometimes, typical teenage boy cluelessness. The relationship between him and his brother is drawn wonderfully. They argue like typical siblings, but when Blake really needs him, Garret is there.

There is an appropriate mix of humor and gravity. Often Blake’s inner dialogue will make the reader laugh. There are times, though, that Marissa’s situation, and Blake’s place in it, darken the tone.

This book won the 2010 William C. Morris Debut YA Author Award

Claudette Colvin: twice toward justice by Phillip Hoose

Growing up in Alabama, Claudette Colvin lived in a world ruled by segregation and racism. As a teenager, her anger and frustration grew as adults continued to act as if this normalcy of Southern life was alright. In Montgomery, Alabama, on March 2, 1955, Claudette stood her ground by sitting – and staying – in a bus seat, refusing to give it up just because of her skin color. The teenager was consequently dragged from the bus and taken to jail.

This event took place more than a year before Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat; however, due to her age and her place in society, Colvin was deemed unfit to be the face of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

This book chronicles Colvin’s life leading up to and during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, using both the author’s research and Colvin’s recollections of the events. While most of the time she stood quietly on the sidelines, her participation in the Civil Rights Movement was instrumental in making changes to the “normal” way of life.

It is no wonder that this book recently won so many honors and awards. The use of Colvin’s own words intensifies the importance of her actions. Here is a woman who, as a teenager, stood up for what was right, proving that regardless of age, anyone can make a difference.

This is one of the best pieces of teen non-fiction that I have read, and a book that I highly recommend to everyone.

A very short list of awards and honors:
  • YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist
  • National Book Awards - Winner
  • Newbery Honor Book
  • Robert F. Sibert Award - Honor

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