Sunday, May 3, 2009

Trigger by Susan Vaught

How would it be to wake up in a hospital with brain damage and no memory of how you got there? Would you be able to believe it if you were told you shot yourself in the head in an attempt to commit suicide? That is the world Jersey lives in. He has spent almost a year in the hospital and rehabilitation center recovering and learning how to live with his brain injury and a battered body as a result of the injury. Now, Jersey is going home and will also have to learn how to live with family and friends who don't quite know how to react and deal with his suicide attempt. Jersey will also begin to explore the reason why he tried to kill himself. He was once athletic and popular, but now Jersey can barely get his body to do want his brain tries to tell it to do and his friends are mostly angry at him. He finds that people tend to either be too sympathetic to his ordeal or overly angry. His memories come back to him in quick flashbacks that he must try to put together into one cohesive memory. He has trouble speaking, and sometimes has trouble not speaking as he tends to spout of whatever is on his mind thanks to the brain injury.

The story is about Jersey's attempt to find himself, even when some do not want to tell him the whole story he needs in order to do so. While the reading level is not very difficult, the story can be difficult at times because of the serious subject matter. At times it can be hard to follow as the story is told in Jersey's voice, as it is with his brain injury. That can sometimes make it difficult to stay with the story. However, the book is worthwhile and will leave you with plenty to think about. You might want to share it with family and friends so you can discuss it.

Book; 14+; ISBN 9781582349206; New York : Bloomsbury, 2006

Monday, April 27, 2009

Breathe My Name by R.A. Nelson

Francis has what appears to be a perfect life. She has a great, loving family, close friends, and no major problems- or so it seems. Francis was adopted as a young child by her family after her biological mother murdered her three sisters during a moment of insanity. Her mother had tried to kill her too, but she was able to escape thanks to a surprise visit by a stranger. Breathe My Name tells the story of how Francis comes to terms with her mother's actions, her own survivor's guilt, and her over-protective, adoptive family. When Francis meets hot-new-boy-in-school, Nix, she begins to follow a path that will take her towards forgiving her mother and herself.

The cover description of Breathe My Name misleads the reader into thinking the book will be a horror or suspense novel where the mother wants to "finish the job" by luring and killing her surviving daughter. While the story does have a somewhat creepy vibe to it, it is more a realistic story of coming of age and survival. The mother does not come after Francis; though Francis does find herself in danger. While this is not a fast read, it is not boring. Nelson keeps the story moving by alternating between Francis' current life and her past life where we see how her mother slowly falls into insanity and learn what happened on that fateful day when her sisters were murdered.

Book; 13+; ISBN 978-1595141866; New York: Razorbill, 2007.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

This book is not for the faint hearted. It is a short but very powerful read. The heroine of the story was kidnapped when she was ten years old by Ray, a pedophile, who renamed her Alice. For five years, Alice has lived through repeated rape and servitude. Now, Alice is fifteen- the age at which she expected Ray to kill her and find another young girl to kidnap. Alice had even been looking forward to turning fifteen because of this. However, Ray is keeping her. Alice will discover that Ray has more plans for her that will make her wish even harder for death to come.

This story deals with some very difficult issues. What would you do if you were kidnapped and your captor told you he would kill your family if you ever told anyone or ran away? Would you wish for your death or even for someone else to take your place if it meant your freedom? The descriptions of rape are not graphic, but leave little to the imagination and occur throughout the book. As a matter of fact, Scott slaps you within the first three pages with her blunt storytelling. It is a fast read with very short chapters that switch between the present and Alice's explanation of how she was kidnapped and her past with Ray. I don't know whether to recommend this book or not. It will grip you from the beginning to the end (I read it in one sitting), but you may wish you had not read it. If you do read it, you will definitely be left with a lot to think about.

Book; age 14+; ISBN 9781416960591; New York: Simon Pulse, 2008