Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

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Review: Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu

December 29, 2016 Diversity 1, Reviews 0 ★★★

Review: Afterward by Jennifer MathieuAfterward by Jennifer Mathieu
Published by Roaring Brook Press on September 20, 2016
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from the publisher
Goodreads
three-stars
When Caroline's little brother is kidnapped, his subsequent rescue leads to the discovery of Ethan, a teenager who has been living with the kidnapper since he was a young child himself. In the aftermath, Caroline can't help but wonder what Ethan knows about everything that happened to her brother, who is not readjusting well to life at home. And although Ethan is desperate for a friend, he can't see Caroline without experiencing a resurgence of traumatic memories. But after the media circus surrounding the kidnappings departs from their small Texas town, both Caroline and Ethan find that they need a friend--and their best option just might be each other.

Diversity Rating: 1 – Tokenism

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG: 0
Disability: 1 (Ethan has PTSD; Caroline’s brother Dylan is autistic, but the author cites poisonous org Autism Speaks)
Intersectionality: 0

Jennifer Mathieu can write some incredible novels. Both The Truth About Alice and Devoted occupy precious space on my bookshelf and the latter especially has stuck with me since I read it. Of course I was going to read Afterward! Sadly, I come away from the novel with mixed feelings and without the same kind of deep impression her previous works left. It’s still good, but it’s definitely not something I can recommend if you’re looking for good representation of autism for a number of reasons. Read more »

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Review: Bright Lights, Dark Nights by Stephen Emond

August 21, 2015 Diversity 2, Reviews 0 ★½

Review: Bright Lights, Dark Nights by Stephen EmondBright Lights, Dark Nights by Stephen Emond
Published by Roaring Brook Press on August 11, 2015
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from the publisher
Goodreads
one-half-stars
A story about first love, first fights, and finding yourself in a messed up world, from the acclaimed author of Happyface.

Walter Wilcox has never been in love. That is, until he meets Naomi, and sparks, and clever jokes, fly. But when his cop dad is caught in a racial profiling scandal, Walter and Naomi, who is African American, are called out at school, home, and online. Can their bond (and mutual love of the Foo Fighters) keep them together?

With black-and-white illustrations throughout and a heartfelt, humorous voice, Bright Lights, Dark Nights authentically captures just how tough first love can be...and why it's worth fighting for

Diversity: 2 – It’s a Start!

Racial-Ethnic: 2 (plenty of black characters, but many of the males are antagonistic)
QUILTBAG:
0
Disability:
0
Intersectionality:
2 (no one in the novel is particularly well off)

According to the author’s note, Stephen Emond began writing Bright Lights, Dark Nights three years ago, so its beginnings preceded the Black Lives Matter movement and the increased attention to anti-black police brutality, but that doesn’t mean police brutality against black people wasn’t unheard of when he started writing. I remember Rodney King and wasn’t even born when that happened. So yeah, there’s a lot for any novel with an element of anti-black police brutality to live up to. Bright Lights, Dark Nights doesn’t cut it. Read more »

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Review: Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu

July 24, 2015 Diversity 0, Reviews 2 ★★★★

Review: Devoted by Jennifer MathieuDevoted by Jennifer Mathieu
Published by Roaring Brook Press on June 2, 2015
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from the publisher
Goodreads
four-stars
Rachel Walker is devoted to God. She prays every day, attends Calvary Christian Church with her family, helps care for her five younger siblings, dresses modestly, and prepares herself to be a wife and mother who serves the Lord with joy. But Rachel is curious about the world her family has turned away from, and increasingly finds that neither the church nor her homeschool education has the answers she craves. Rachel has always found solace in her beliefs, but now she can’t shake the feeling that her devotion might destroy her soul.

Diversity Rating: 0 – What Diversity?

Racial-Ethnic: 0
QUILTBAG:
0
Disability:
1 (Rachel’s mom has postpartum depression)
Intersectionality:
0

Much to the misfortune of readers everywhere who are likely finding this novel in the midst of the Duggar sexual abuse revelations, Devoted was written and came out before any of that came to light. The thought of how many ways Jennifer Mathieu could have taken apart how these kinds of things are covered up in fundamentalist Christian and/or Quiverfull communities make me swoon a little. Alas, what’s done is done and there’s no going back to add more now. What Devoted gives us is the least biased, most thoughtful examination of Quiverfull culture and the lovely of one girl’s self-driven journey to leaving that community. Read more »

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Review: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

August 7, 2014 Reviews 2 ★★★★

Review: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer MathieuThe Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu
Published by Roaring Brook Press on June 3, 2014
Genres: YA, YA Contemporary
Pages: 208
Format: ARC
Source: Bought (Used Bookstore)
four-stars
Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party.

But did you know Alice was sexting Brandon when he crashed his car?

It's true. Ask ANYBODY.

Rumor has it that Alice Franklin is a slut. It's written all over the bathroom stall at Healy High for everyone to see. And after star quarterback Brandon Fitzsimmons dies in a car accident, the rumors start to spiral out of control.

In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students—the girl who has the infamous party, the car accident survivor, the former best friend, and the boy next door—tell all they know.

But exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there's only one person to ask: Alice herself.

By sheer luck, no one has ever called me a slut to my face or where I could hear them, but I know I’ve been called one behind my back before. When you’re a girl like me and literally half the kids in your year ask if you stuff your bra because they’re unfortunately larger than any other girl’s breasts at that age, your answer will do nothing to change the image of you they’ve already formed in their minds. If they’ve decided you’re a slut, then that’s that unless something major makes them adjust it. Sadly, that doesn’t always happen. That’s exactly the message The Truth About Alice has and Mathieu condemns it with every word while giving readers a beautiful, important novel. Read more »

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Auracle by Gina Rosati

August 1, 2012 Reviews 0

Auracle by Gina RosatiAuracle by Gina Rosati
Buy from AmazonBuy from The Book DepositoryBuy from Barnes & NoblePublished by Roaring Brook Press on August 7, 2012
Genres: YA Paranormal
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: print ARC from a swap
DNF
16 year old Anna Rogan has a secret she's only shared with her best friend, Rei; she can astrally project out of her body, allowing her spirit to explore the world and the far reaches of the universe.

When there's a fatal accident and her classmate Taylor takes over Anna's body, what was an exhilarating distraction from her repressive home life threatens to become a permanent state. Faced with a future trapped in another dimension, Anna turns to Rei for help. Now the two of them must find a way to get Anna back into her body and stop Taylor from accusing an innocent friend of murder. Together Anna and Rei form a plan but it doesn't take into account the deeper feelings that are beginning to grow between them.

I’m in such a reading slump! I had one awesome book and one good novella in the last week, and every other book I’ve read since then has been either mediocre or bad. I don’t like the way it makes me look like I hate everything because I don’t. I’m just in the company of some unimpressive books that clash with my feminist ideals or are lacking in quality. I wanted Auracle to break me out of that slump, but… Well, this is probably the worst of the books I’ve read since my slump began. Almost all of it is because of the portrayal of the antagonist, a young woman named Taylor.

I wanted to enjoy this so badly, but it’s a little hard to find nice things to say. I love the love interest being half-Japanese (yay for diversity in YA romances!) and Rei’s little sister being named Saya automatically won her awesome points because she shares a name with one of my favorite heroines ever. Anna’s voice reads well and is likable, though Anna herself is not because of the way she treats/describes Taylor, and the novel is well-paced. If Auracle weren’t causing my blood pressure to skyrocket every few pages, finishing this today would be easy.

Taylor’s portrayal. There are so many problematic elements to it that it pains me just to talk about it. When Taylor was fifteen, she was having sex with a twenty-one-year-old man, lying to him about her age and swearing she was on birth control pills. When she got pregnant, she told her parents she was raped, the man was charged/possibly convicted of statutory rape, and he must now register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Right after that, she moved to Anna’s town.

In an act of implicit slut shaming, Anna puts the reader’s focus on how short all of Taylor’s skirts are and how low-cut her shirts are by describing them all the time. She even mentions when Taylor wears a skirt so short that her underwear is visible when she sits down. Taylor develops a crush on Anna’s friend Seth, who calls her a stalker in front of the class when she tries to talk to him. After she insinuates he must be gay to not like her, Seth responds with, “You think because I’m not interested in a slut like you I must be gay… why doesn’t that surprise me? (ARC p.54). After she dies and takes over Anna’s body and decides she’s going to frame Seth for murder when her death was nothing but an accident.

Seriously? This is offensive no matter what way you look at it. The way she’s characterized, the way she is dressed, her actions–all of it is deeply problematic in the way it oversimplifies why people do such things and makes a caricature out of it all. Letting revealing clothes be labeled bad by association (or is revealing clothes just a way to characterize how eeeeeeeevul she is? I’m not sure) doesn’t fly with me either.

Maybe Taylor is given depth later in the novel and some light is shed on why she has behaved the way she has. I flipped ahead a little and she brings up her not-so-great relationship with her parents and they way they pushed her to do certain things whether or not they wanted to do them. In my eyes, this bit of depth I stumbled across is nowhere near enough to make up for everything done to Taylor. I lack the ability to care about any resolution on this front and the time to keep wading through the book to find the good stuff. I’ve read over half the book and if all the good stuff is in the second half, that’s still the book’s problem, not mine.

I don’t have time for this. Look at all these books stacked up waiting for me. Just look!

I move in a few weeks, so I’m packing up everything, and I want to get at least a few more of these read before I move. I do not have time for offensive books like Auracle.

And this is why Auracle is a DNF.

What am I reading next?: Fated by Alyson Noel

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