Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mini Reviews: The Growing Up Edition

Addie on the Inside
by James Howe 
companion to The Misfits

The Gang of Five is back in this third story from Paintbrush Falls. Addie Carle, the only girl in the group of friends is outspoken, opinionated, and sometimes…just a bit obnoxious.

But as seventh grade progresses, Addie’s not so sure anymore about who she is. It seems her tough exterior is just a little too tough and that doesn’t help her deal with the turmoil she feels on the inside as she faces the pains of growing up. (description from

Told through a series of poignant poems, this is a beautiful story of a girl just trying to make it through seventh grade. Lots of issues are covered here, but in a really accessible, believable way. A quick read that is well worth checking out!

Fighting Ruben Wolfe
by Markus Zusak
sequel to The Underdog

The working class family of Cameron Wolfe and his brother Ruben isn't having much luck these days. Their dad has just lost his job and is too proud to go on welfare. Their older brother has moved out of the house in disgust. Which leaves them open to suggestion when a local boxing promotor signs them up for illegal bouts. But it's more than the meager winnings that draws the two brothers in. Soon they find themselves fighting for something else. Is it pride? Love? Or just the experience of winning for once? (description from

I was surprised how much I loved this story.  It may seem to be about two brothers who decide to box on the side for money, but really it's about a family struggling to make it through a recession.  A family of survivors, fighters, that come together to beat all the odds!

Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for SLJ

How to Save a Life
by Sara Zarr

Jill MacSweeny just wishes everything could go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she's been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends--everyone who wants to support her. And when her mom decides to adopt a baby, it feels like she's somehow trying to replace a lost family member with a new one.
Mandy Kalinowski understands what it's like to grow up unwanted--to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, one thing she's sure of is that she wants a better life for her baby. It's harder to be sure of herself. Will she ever find someone to care for her, too?
As their worlds change around them, Jill and Mandy must learn to both let go and hold on, and that nothing is as easy--or as difficult--as it seems. (description from
A touching story that made me cry over and over again. Jill was a phenomenal character and I was surprised how much I ended up liking Mandy, too.  Love transcends all...
Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for AudioFile magazine

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