Codes for Reviews

First Initial (Overall Rating):
E = Exceptional
VG = Very Good
G = Good
F = Fair
NR = Not Recommended

Second Initital (Reading Level):
A = Average Reading Level
E = Easy
M = Mature

“The views expressed are of individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective institutions.”

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Denton Little's Deathdate

General YA Fiction

G/A  Rubin, Lance.  Denton Little’s Deathdate.  Knopf, 2015.  352p.  978-0553496963.  17.99

Thanks to DNA research and statistics, everyone knows when they will die (but not how). Unfortunately for high school senior, Denton Little, his deathdate is tomorrow. His funeral is held the day before his death, so that he can attend and eulogize himself. At midnight he will sit vigil with his family and closest friends, essentially waiting to die. A lot can happen in that time period though, including losing his virginity, getting the weirdest rash ever, meeting a man who claims to have known his mother, going to prom and getting in a crazy car chase. Rubin’s debut novel is a fun, twisty dark comedy. It’s laugh out loud funny while being thoughtful at the same time. Hopefully the sequel coming in April 2016 will be just as fun. Loren Spector, Memorial Branch, LAPL

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Mike's Place: A True Story of Love, Blues and Terror in Tel Aviv

Graphic Novel

VG/A  Baxter, Jack and Joshua Faudem.  Mike’s Place: A True Story of Love, Blues, and Terror in Tel Aviv.  First Second, 2015.  189p.  978-1-59643-857-6.  22.99

In 2003, American documentary filmmaker, Jack Baxter decided to make a film about Tel Aviv bar, Mike’s Place. The bar was a popular blues club on the beach and the staff was like family. Baxter wanted to show a side of Israel that was not about politics, religion or war, but a human story. In April 2003, all that changed when there was a suicide bomber at Mike’s Place and 3 people were killed, including one of the waitresses. This book is a graphic adaptation of the events that took place and the making of the documentary film. The great artwork and storytelling (although a true story, some of the scenes are fictionalized) make this graphic novel worth reading. Loren Spector, LAPL, Memorial Branch

Monday, October 5, 2015

Alex As Well

General YA Fiction

VG/A Brugman, Alyssa. Alex As Well. Henry Holt and Company, 2015. 214 p. 978-1-62779-014-7. 16.99.

Alex was born with both male and female body parts. Her parents chose to raise her as a boy, so throughout her childhood she has been on hormone drugs and has been treated as a boy. As the story opens, the 14-year-old Alex is five days in to going off of her hormone drugs. Following a brutal bullying incident in which she was stripped naked and thrown in a river (with the incident posted on youtube, no less) Alex enrolls herself in a new school without her parents’ consent. Here she IS a girl from day 1. The most appealing and humorous aspect of the novel is the internal bickering between “Alex” and “Alex” – the boy and girl personalities inside her head. At first, treating an intersex character in this way – essentially as a “multiple personality disorder” sufferer – seems insulting to people in this situation. Alex is not “sick,” she is struggling for self-acceptance and to be accepted by her parents. However, with going on and off hormone therapy at such a young age, and with Alex being aware of having to “act” in such a way as to be convincing as a boy at her first school, and then as a girl at the second, Brugman convinces us that Alex could indeed think of herself as having an unwelcome observer/commentator (male Alex). Complicating matters even more, Alex quickly starts falling in love with a girl in her class, and has to deal with a boy falling for her. The narrative is told from Alex’s point of view, interspersed with her mother’s confessions to the fictional website Brugman’s use of this device helps make the mother a believable character, not a screaming villain. The ending seems rushed, but this is still definitely recommended. Philip Levie, YA Librarian, Panorama City Branch Library, LAPL.