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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

What a wonderful, wonderful novel.  I really enjoyed Jeff Zentner's debut novel, The Serpent King.  Through all of the depression, darkness, and family dysfunction that this book shows us, it helps to remind us that we don't have to give in to any of it.  We can rise above our own history and our own darkness and come in to the light.  This book reminds us that we are all survivors.  It reminds us that we can accomplish great things despite what our circumstances may be telling us is possible.  Before I opened up to the first page, I had heard all of the hype and I had read all of the "best of" lists that included this book.  I knew that it was receiving lots of praise.  And now that I am finished with it, I have to say that it was all completely justified. 

From Amazon:

A William C. Morris Award Finalist
A New York Times Notable Book
An Amazon Best Book of the Year
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
A Shelf Awareness Best Teen Book of the Year

Named to BuzzFeed's "Best YA Books of 2016" list!

Named to Mashable's "Best YA Book of the Year" list!

"Move over, John Green; Zentner is coming for you." —The New York Public Library

“Will fill the infinite space that was left in your chest after you finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” — 

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. Dill’s only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for Lydia—neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending—one that will rock his life to the core.

In this William C. Morris Award Finalist, debut novelist Jeff Zentner provides an unblinking and at times comic view of the hard realities of growing up in the Bible belt, and an intimate look at the struggles to find one’s true self in the wreckage of the past.

“A story about friendship, family and forgiveness, it’s as funny and witty as it is utterly heartbreaking.” —

“A brutally honest portrayal of teen life . . . [and] a love letter to the South from a man who really understands it.” —

“I adored all three of these characters and the way they talked to and loved one another.”—New York Times

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig King

I always tell my students that good books should make you feel something.  Me and Marvin Gardens definitely made me feel something.  I felt so happy reading this book.  So many times I would just find myself smiling as I read.  It was such a beautiful story, and Obe and Marvin Gardens are wonderful characters.  I loved to watch Obe grow in confidence and become "fearless, daring, and brave" in his own ways.  And every time Marvin Gardens would smile at Obe, I couldn't help but smile right back at him.

This is a middle grade book, but never feel like those are the only people who should read this.  I loved this story and I really believe any of you would love it to, regardless of age. 

Note: This book is not scheduled for release until January 31, 2017, so if you are interested in reading it, let me know and I can get you my copy. 

From Amazon:

Obe Devlin has problems. His family's farmland has been taken over by developers. His best friend Tommy abandoned him for the development kids. And he keeps getting nosebleeds, because of that thing he doesn't like to talk about. So Obe hangs out at the creek by his house, in the last wild patch left, picking up litter and looking for animal tracks.

One day, he sees a creature that looks kind of like a large dog, or maybe a small boar. And as he watches it, he realizes it eats plastic. Only plastic. Water bottles, shopping bags... No one has ever seen a creature like this before, because there's never been a creature like this before. The animal--Marvin Gardens--soon becomes Obe's best friend and biggest secret. But to keep him safe from the developers and Tommy and his friends, Obe must make a decision that might change everything.

In her most personal novel yet, Printz Honor Award winner Amy Sarig King tells the story of a friendship that could actually save the world.