Book Review Blast: EVEN WHEN YOU LIE TO ME, DENTON LITTLE’S DEATHDATE, THE WALLS AROUND US and DELICATE MONSTERS
Even When You Lie to Me by Jessica Alcott
Publisher’s Book Description: Fans of John Green’s Looking for Alaska as well as Lauren Oliver and Sarah Dessen will embrace this provocative debut novel, an exploration of taboo love set against the backdrop of a suburban high school.
Charlie, a senior, isn’t looking forward to her last year of high school. Another year of living in the shadow of her best friend, Lila. Another year of hiding behind the covers of her favorite novels. Another year of navigating her tense relationship with her perfectionist mom.
But everything changes when she meets her new English teacher. Mr. Drummond is smart. Irreverent. Funny. Hot. Everyone loves him. And Charlie thinks he’s the only one who gets her.
She also thinks she might not be the only one with a crush.
In this stunning debut, Jessica Alcott explores relationships-and their boundaries-in a way that is both searingly honest and sympathetic. (Published June 2015 by Crown)
Karen’s Thoughts: This debut novel will resonate with readers who are struggling to find themselves in what seems like a sea of rejection. Charlie’s mother rejects her, telling her she loves her but following it up with those “buts . . . ” In fact, this novel combined with Making Pretty by Corey Ann Haydu perfectly captures how we as parents can break our kids in profound ways, even when we think we are loving them. It’s a reminder that sometimes a parent “doing their best” isn’t always good enough because some parents, their best is still incredibly toxic and damaging. At its core, however, Even When You Lie to me is a book about boundaries, and everyone is crossing them. With well developed characters, uncomfortable but realistically tense situations, and a few broken taboos and Even When You Lie to Me explores the concepts of rejection and longing and trying to find yourself in very authentic ways. I appreciated that Alcott took on the topic of student-teacher relationships in a way that made it clear that at the end of the day the adults are ultimately responsible for setting and maintaining boundaries.
Denton Little’s Deathdate (Denton Little #1) by Lance Rubin
Denton Little’s Deathdate takes place in a world exactly like our own except that everyone knows the day they will die. For 17-year-old Denton Little, that’s tomorrow, the day of his senior prom.
Despite his early deathdate, Denton has always wanted to live a normal life, but his final days are filled with dramatic firsts. First hangover. First sex. First love triangle (as the first sex seems to have happened not with his adoring girlfriend, but with his best friend’s hostile sister. Though he’s not totally sure. See: first hangover.) His anxiety builds when he discovers a strange purple rash making its way up his body. Is this what will kill him? And then a strange man shows up at his funeral, claiming to have known Denton’s long-deceased mother, and warning him to beware of suspicious government characters…. Suddenly Denton’s life is filled with mysterious questions and precious little time to find the answers.
Debut author Lance Rubin takes us on a fast, furious, and outrageously funny ride through the last hours of a teenager’s life as he searches for love, meaning, answers, and (just maybe) a way to live on. (Published April 2015 by Knopf)
Karen’s Thoughts: This book was interesting and fun. It reminded me of the fantastic 80s movie Adventures in Babysitting in that a lot of absurd adventures take place over the course of a short period of time. It just happens that this period of time involves Denton Little trying to get to his funeral alive. You see in the future, they can tell you the day of your death and you are invited to attend your funeral before you actually die to spend one last day with loved ones. But fate, it seems, wants to make sure Denton does indeed die. And then there are some interesting twists where Denton learns that everything he thought he understood about this world he lives in and his family are maybe not completely true, setting us up for a sequel that I will definitely be reading because the concept is fascinating and the writing is good.
For another fun read that reminds me of Adventures in Babysitting check out A BAD DAY FOR VOODOO by Jeff Strand.
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
Publisher’s Book Description: On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement.
On the inside, within the walls of the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom.
Tying their two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries…
What really happened on the night Orianna stepped between Violet and her tormentors? What really happened on two strange nights at Aurora Hills? Will Amber and Violet and Orianna ever get the justice they deserve—in this life or in another one?
In prose that sings from line to line, Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and of innocence, and of what happens when one is mistaken for the other. (Published March 2015 by Algonquin)
Karen’s Thoughts: Dark, alluring, fascinating, and deep, you won’t want to miss this book. Sum writes a haunting and poignant tale that will haunt readers for a long time afterwards.
Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Khuen
Publisher’s Book Description: From the Morris-Award winning author of Charm & Strange, comes a twisted and haunting tale about three teens uncovering dark secrets and even darker truths about themselves.
When nearly killing a classmate gets seventeen-year-old Sadie Su kicked out of her third boarding school in four years, she returns to her family’s California vineyard estate. Here, she’s meant to stay out of trouble. Here, she’s meant to do a lot of things. But it’s hard. She’s bored. And when Sadie’s bored, the only thing she likes is trouble.
Emerson Tate’s a poor boy living in a rich town, with his widowed mother and strange, haunted little brother. All he wants his senior year is to play basketball and make something happen with the girl of his dreams. That’s why Emerson’s not happy Sadie’s back. An old childhood friend, she knows his worst secrets. The things he longs to forget. The things she won’t ever let him.
Haunted is a good word for fifteen-year-old Miles Tate. Miles can see the future, after all. And he knows his vision of tragic violence at his school will come true, because his visions always do. That’s what he tells the new girl in town. The one who listens to him. The one who recognizes the darkness in his past.
But can Miles stop the violence? Or has the future already been written? Maybe tragedy is his destiny. Maybe it’s all of theirs. (Published June 2015 by St. Martin’s Griffin)
Karen’s Thoughts: Khuen is the modern master of dark YA psychological thrillers. Perfectly paced and mesmerizing, Khuen doesn’t pull any of her punches and the twists are dark and twisty in all the perfectly menacing ways that make you want to look away but keep you glued to the page and keep you up all night wanting to finish. I saw the other day that Christa Desir tweeted about this book saying, “It’s everything I want in a YA novel.”
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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