Books4Hearts – Book Reviews: August 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Missing Girl by Norma Fox Mazer

Now you see that he’s carrying a hammer. He takes a nail out of his pocket and hammers it into the window frame. He takes another nail out of his pocket and hammers it in above the first nail. More nails. More hammering. You don’t get it. Then you do.
He’s nailing the window shut. He’s nailing you in.
You never know who might be living in your neighborhood. You never know what sort of person is, for example, inviting you to help feed the ducks. Who’s teaching you at school. Who’s checking out your groceries at the store. You don’t know anything about them do you. And that’s the exact problem. Beauty (17, and not a REAL beauty), Mim (sixteen and quiet), Stevie (14, how could she change her name?), Fancy (12, talk talk talk), and Autumn (11 and the ‘not special’ baby) are being watched. They don’t know it, no one knows it but the watcher. He’s being good. He’s not giving in. Until one of the girls walks up and pretty much invites themselves into his life. And just like that, a girl is missing, and in terrible danger.
You’ve never been locked in anywhere. You walk from the door to the window, from the window to the door. It’s like you’re a prisoner. No, you are a prisoner. You’re in jail, and you haven’t even done anything wrong.
This was the first thriller type book I’ve ever read. Ever. So bear with me, please. I did enjoy it. It was disturbing, a bit scary, and very entertaining. I liked the character switches (they are all written in a different way, and despite what my mom would think, it’s not especially confusing.) and it was an interesting book. I’d give it three stars, and recommend it only to people who are 13 and up. (It was in the TEEN section, for tacos sake.)
That chub was not an athlete. Say she slept in the field last night. Say she realized how silly she’d been. Say they’d find her tonight, maybe on Route 11, walking back toward Mallory, tired, but glad to be found. Say all that, and try to believe it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The School for Dangerous Girls by Eliot Schrefer

I pulled my crumpled schedule out of a pocket and thrust it at her. A little forcefully, probably. I didn’t like being mistrusted.
She scrutinized it with a sort of suspicious admiration, like a well-executed forgery. “I’m going to have to talk to Dr. Spicer,” she said. “You’re not supposed to be here. I don’t want the other girls tainted.”
“Excuse me?”
Angela Cardenas is a “dangerous girl”. So she’s sent to Hidden Oak School for Girls. Aka, the school for girls like her. Dangerous ones. Ones who haven’t responded to any other therapy, and need somewhere to go.
For most of them, it’s Hidden Oak, or jail.
But Angela soon discovers that there’s more to be concerned about then the reasons she’s there. More goes on behind the walls of the school then she would have thought. Gold threads and purple threads. The good girls, and the nonredeemable girls. The privileged girls who get a good education and are actually helped, and the “evil” ones, who are kept goodness knows where. Out of sight, out of mind.
Except for Angela.
“I understand,” my mother said. “And so does Angela. Don’t you?”
I stared through the window at the smoldering dormitory, realizing all over again that I had always been entirely alone.
First, let me explain why I picked this book up. First, the title. ‘The school’. Not well known fact about me: I love boarding school books, particularly when it has a mystery/spies in it. So that caught my attention. ‘Dangerous girls’. What makes them dangerous? Are they training? What? That also caught my eye. So, all in all, catchy title. Then the cover. It’s like all the other ones- only blurry. Bleh, not especially eye catching. But the synopsis in the cover. hang on.. here it is. “Step 1. Cause trouble. step two get caught. step three get sent to the school for dangerous girls. Who knows what goes on behind the doors of The School for Dangerous Girls? The school’s mission is clear: to take girls who’ve caused trouble and reform them into model citizens. It’s methods? No freedom. No medication. No leniency. No escape. Some girls are meant to get better. And, as Angela is about to learn, some girls are meant to stay forever.” It just caught my attention. 😀 Besides- THE MAIN CHARACTER HAS THE SAME NAME AS ME!!! That was, after all, the winning reason. 🙂 But names aside, it was a good book. I loved Angela, and I loved Riley too (my fave. characters). I loved the plot (though it was bizarre), and it was very well written.
Did I mention that I liked the characters?
Well, I do. Very much. They were all brilliantly written- they seemed like real people. The different diverse personalities, everything. I’d have to give this book… four stars.
It’s really rare that you can actually feel your life turning, that all the minuscule gear changes you’ve made in the last few years finally result in a turn of the big massive cog that’s your existence as a whole.
But something changed. I’d gone from a girl sobbing in a Texas parking lot about a guy who’d never been worth it to a girl skiing through a blizzard, her survival at stake, the destiny of an entire institution in the possession of the guy confidently arrowing through the snowdrifts in front of her. I’d been called dangerous before, and I’d never really believed it.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Saffy’s Angel by Hilary McKay

When Saffron was eight, and had at last learned to read, she hunted slowly through the color chart pinned up on the kitchen wall.

So begins the book Saffy’s Angel by Hilary McKay. Saffron ‘Saffy’ is the second-oldest child in the Casson family, a hilarious family of painters. They live in a house named The Banana House in England. All of the children in the Casson family are named after colors. There is Cadmium (Caddy), Saffron (Saffy), Indigo, and Permanent Rose (Rose). All of Saffy’s siblings’ names are on the big color chart on the kitchen wall of The Banana House, except for Saffron. This discovery leads Saffy to discover that she was adopted, and that her mother, Eve, is really her aunt. Saffy is the daughter of Eve’s twin sister Linda, who died in a car crash in Italy when Saffy was very small. After finding this out, Saffy is deeply upset and doesn’t feel like a member of the family.

The children’s Grandad brought Saffy back from Italy after her mother’s death. He then returned to Italy, alone, and no one knew why. After he came back, he was never the same. He moved into a nursing home, and he never spoke, except for one word: Saffron. After his death, he leaves something to each of the children in his will. Everyone’s things are either broken or nonexistent, but pinned to the will, they find a note that reads:

For Saffron. Her angel in the garden.

Saffy then goes on a mission of self-discovery to find her mysterious angel, with the help of her family and a new friend she makes.

This is a beautiful story. I found this book on my bookshelf, and I remembered liking it when I had read it before. This time around, I loved it. It is absolutely hilarious, and though the main portion of the story focuses on Saffy, the rest of the family have their bits as well. Caddy starts to take driving lessons, and falls in love with her driving instructor. The dialogue back and forth between them is enough to make you start laughing out loud. Indigo, the third-oldest, tries not-very-effectively to cure himself of his fear of heights so that he can be a Polar Explorer when he grows up. Rose, my personal favorite character, is the youngest, and is portrayed exactly like kids her age. Everything that came out of her mouth made me laugh. The parents, Bill and Eve Casson, are very funny as well.

It is a very funny story, but also genuinely sad and touching at parts. The writing is engrossing; I found myself glued to the book and not able to put it down until I was done. All of the characters feel like real people. I give it five stars, and hope you enjoy it as much as me!

Note: I did not write this book review. This review was written by my friend Nina. Thank you! You are the first guest reviewer. Congratulations and thank you again!

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