Thursday, February 6, 2014

Bill Konigsberg, OUT OF THE POCKET

Excellent, deeply satisfying debut YA novel, about a star high school quarterback who, somewhat unwillingly, comes out of the closet. I felt like BK nailed the teen boy voices, and the writing seemed virtually transparent. Read it in one sitting. One of my favorite things about this book is the cast of secondary characters--imperfect and evolving.

Rosalind Wiseman, MASTERMINDS AND WINGMEN: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World

There's a lot of good, solid information in here--including lots of quotes from boys, ages 10 to 17, about everything from girls to gaming to lying to fighting. She says it is a mistake to think that boys are easier than girls; her thesis is that boys aren't easier, they're just quieter. As with her book on girls (QUEEN BEES & WANNABEES) she has a lot of specific and practical advice on how to guide and support them and get them to share their thoughts, including the words to say in certain situations and the landmines to avoid. Maybe my favorite was the contract she has her boys sign about the rules of gaming, which begins: I realize I have no ability to accurately agauge how long I've played because I lose track of time. Therefore, when my mom or dad tell me time's up, I won't respond with, "What!? But I've only been on for a few minutes! I'm about to get to the next level! Let me just throw myself off this cliff! It'll only take one minute, I promise!"

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Carrie Arcos, OUT OF REACH

A YA (National Book Award Finalist) about a girl who, with her brother's good-looking friend Tyler, spends a day looking for her meth-addicted brother Micah on the beaches near San Diego. I thought the book did a very good job portraying Rachel's ambivalence about her brother--she loves him but is absolutely furious with him for the lies, the addiction, the pain he's caused the family. But the romance that blooms between Tyler and Rachel during the one day, as they take "time out" from looking for Micah to eat ice cream and ride the roller-coaster and bumper cars, felt forced. The book doesn't cop out (spoiler: they don't find Micah) but the ease with which Rachel accepts that left me a bit cold.