Title- Eleanor & Park
Author- Rainbow Rowell
Publisher- St. Martin’s Press
Genre(s): YA, Romance, Contemporary
Interest Age: 15 and up
Reader’s Annotation: Two misfits, Eleanor & Park, find solace in each other at their high school in 1980’s Omaha.
Park is half-asian and begins by letting us know that he has lost someone. He feels like an outsider, in his very white town of Omaha. He sees Eleanor, who has bright red hair and dresses in men’s clothing. He offers her a spot on the bus, and they silently sit next to each other for weeks. Eleanor is poor, and has an abusive step-dad and Park feels like an outsider at school and in his own home with his sports obsessed dad. Eleanor and Park begin to hang out more and more and eventually fall for each other. Eleanor grows fearful of her step-dad and decides to leave. Park decides to drive her to Minnesota, where she does not contact him for 6 months. The book ends with her sending him a postcard.
Rainbow Rowell writes with an incredibly realistic voice, and allows her readers to connect very well with her characters. I really liked the relationship between Park and Eleanor. I did not always like the decisions that Eleanor makes within the book, but that just shows we have different personalities. Overall, I enjoyed this book and I think teens will too.
“Rainbow Rowell writes books. Sometimes she writes about adults (ATTACHMENTS and LANDLINE). Sometimes she writes about teenagers (ELEANOR & PARK and FANGIRL). But she always writes about people who talk a lot. And people who feel like they’re screwing up. And people who fall in love.
When she’s not writing, Rainbow is reading comic books, planning Disney World trips and arguing about things that don’t really matter in the big scheme of things.
She lives in Nebraska with her husband and two sons” (“Rainbow Rowell”, n.d.).
Ties to Curriculum Units: N/A
How does Eleanor’s Mom’s relationship effect her relationship with Park?
I would say the only issue that might come up is Eleanor’s step-dad and his abuse, but I will explain to parents that it is a realistic portrayal of some teen’s home lives and can benefit them by allowing them to see that they are not alone.
Title- Weetzie Bat
Author- Francesca Lia Block
Genre(s): Young Adult
Interest Age: 15 and up
Reader’s Annotation: Weetzie, her friend Dirk, and their lives are set magically but they deal with real issues, along with their love Duck and My Secret Agent Lover Man.
Weetzie meets Dirk and the instantly become best friends. Dirk tells Weetzie that he is gay. The both decide that they need to find their perfect match, called a duck. They hang over at Dirk’s Grandma Fifi’s house, she raised Dirk. Fifi gives Weetzie a magical lamp. Weetzie wishes for both her and Dirk to find their Duck’s and for them to have a house. Her wishes begin to come true. Dirk meets Duck, Weetzie meets My Secret Agent Lover Man and Fifi dies and leaves the house to Dirk and Weetzie. Weetzie feels like she is happy, but believes that a child will make her happier. My Secret Agent Lover Man does not want a child, and Weetzie decides to have one with Dirk and Duck. They sleep together. My Secret Agent Lover Man leaves Weetzie and she gives birth to Cherokee. My Secret Agent Lover Man comes back, but a woman comes searching for him and says she is pregnant. Later on, a baby is left on their front door. Weetzie’s father is found dead from an overdose and Duck leaves Dirk. Dirk goes after Duck, and brings him back to the home they all share.
At first I didn’t know how much I would enjoy this book. But it grew on me, I still wouldn’t say that it was my favorite book but I can appreciate the story line. I liked the characters, but I feel as though they weren’t taking life very seriously, which can work for some people, but not me. I think teens will enjoy this novel though because the issues that were relevant in the time period in which it was written are still relevant.
Author Bio/ Information:
“Francesca Lia Block was born in Los Angeles to a poet and a painter, their creativity an obvious influence on her writing. Another influence was her childhood love of Greek mythology and fairy tales.
She has lived in the city all her life, and still resides there with her daughter, Jasmine Angelina (about whom she wrote her book Guarding the Moon), her son Samuel Alexander, and her two dogs: a springer spaniel named Vincent Van Go Go Boots and a beagle mix named Thumper” (“Francesca Lia Block,” n.d.).
Ties to Curriculum Units: Cultural Diversity, Differences
What is the benefit to embracing differences?
This book is a YA classic that has been challenged and/or banned. THis is because gay characters are featured, AIDS is mentioned, and babies are had not within marriage. I would explain to any adults that this is a reality that some teens face, and that it is beneficial because they will feel as though they are represented.
Title- The Wrath & The Dawn
Author- Renee Ahdieh
Publisher- G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Copyright Date- 2015
Genre (s): Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Historical Fiction
Reading Level/Interest Age: 12-17 years old
Reader’s Annotation: 16-year old Shahrzad must continue to tell her captivating tale to stay alive and exact revenge on her best friend’s murderer.
Shahrzad’s best friend, and many other young girls, are sent to marry the 18-year old Caliph of Khorasan. Each morning after their marriage, the young brides are put to death. Shahrzad volunteers to marry the young king in the hopes to exact revenge for her best friend Shiva’s murder. On her first night as the Caliph’s wife, Shahrzad begins a tale. As soon as the sun rises, she refuses to continue until the next night. The Caliph allows her to live for one more day. She befriends a servant named Despina, who knows the ins and outs of the castle and all about the Caliph. The Caliph continues to allow Shahrzad to live in order to hear the rest of the tale. On the third morning, guards come to collect Shahrzad to hang her. She is almost unconscious when they are ordered to stop by the Caliph.
While this is happening, Shahrzad’s first love Tariq is traveling to the kingdom to stop her death. Shahrzad begins to have feelings for the Caliph but fights against them out of grief for Shiva. She plans to kill him multiple times, but each time she is interrupted. The Caliph becomes suspicious of her volunteering to marry him, and Shahrzad tries to find answers as to why the other girls had to die. Tariq makes it to the kingdom and is investigated by the Caliph. He finds a connection between Tariq and Shahrzad. At this point, he loves her very much and offers himself for her to kill him. She refuses. The Caliph eventually explains why he must kill his wife, and the book is left open for the next book to continue.
I really liked this story! I was initially interested in it because it was a retelling of One Thousand and One Nights. It lived up to my interest. I really liked Shahrzad as a character because she was really strong, but she could have a soft side as well. A lot of characters in YA lean entirely too close to one side, but I believe Shahrzad was a great balance. I found that I didn’t always agree with her choices, but that’s pretty much a given with any book for me. I think that the secondary characters really make this story as well. Renee Ahdieh writes beautiful descriptions and really makes you envision the settings. This book is important to be included in my collection because it is a retelling of an older story, and allows the reader to glimpse a historical view of a different culture. Teens will flock to this novel and eat it up.
Renée Ahdieh is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In her spare time, she likes to dance salsa and collect shoes. She is passionate about all kinds of curry, rescue dogs and college basketball.
The first few years of her life were spent in a high—rise in South Korea; consequently, Renée enjoys having her head in the clouds. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and their tiny overlord of a dog. She is the author of THE WRATH AND THE DAWN. (Renee Ahdieh, 2015).
Ties to Curriculum Units: Diversity of Culture, Relationships
How would you handle the situation Shahrzad is in?
Challenge Issues: I cannot find a challenge against The Wrath & The Dawn. But at some point there will be a challenge against it because it features a consummation of the marriage between characters, and violence. I would prepare for this challenge by explaining that it was a retelling of a classic fairy tale, and that the scenes are watered down to fit the audience for which it was intended.
Here is a link to reviews for The Wrath & The Dawn:
Renee Ahdieh. 2015. The Wrath & The Dawn. Retrieved from http://www.teenreads.com/authors/renee-ahdieh