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Fiction, Fantasy & Yound Adult
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Genre 6 Reviews

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Johnson, Angela. 2003. THE FIRST PART LAST. New York: Simon Pulse. ISBN: 0689849230

 

Angela Johnson does a great job of catching your attention from the very beginning of the book in THE FIRST PART LAST.  It is as if you start off the book knowing the ending.  It starts with present day and then goes back and forth from the present to the past.  It keeps the reader intrigued because one continuously wants to get back to the past so one can figure out how Bobby got to the point where he has the baby Feather.  Angela Johnson keeps the reader in suspense about where Nia is, which keeps the reader reading to find out where she has gone.

 

This book has all the characteristics of contemporary realistic fiction.  The characters are fictional but the plot of two teenagers having a baby is defiantly realistic.  Although this book deals with sex and has some bad language, it is about the realities of living with the consequences of having sex.  Bobby is only sixteen but has to worry about staying up at night with feather and then getting up and taking her to the babysitter and then getting himself to school.  Even though he loves his daughter dearly, he is still missing out on getting to hang out with his friends and just shooting hoops.  Angela did a good job of hooking the reader to sympathize with the young character because anyone that has a child knows how being a parent leads to many sleepless nights and ones world not ever being the same.  For example when J.L. and K-Boy want Bobby to shoot hoops with them and he runs out of the apartment and down the street before he realizes he can’t go because he has Feather that he has just now left alone.  What a lot to take on for a sixteen year old.

 

Although this book is short, it has several twists and turns.  At a point in the book, one thinks they will give the baby away but then one knows that it didn’t happen because Bobby has Feather.  Then it is thought that Nia might have died and in a sense I guess she did but Angela keeps the reader wondering how the story arrived at this point or what happened to Nia.

 

Even though this book could be considered controversial, it is a good book to share with teens so that they are aware of the consequences of having sex at an early age.

 

 

 

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Wolffe, Virginia, E. 1993. MAKE LEMONADE. New York: Scholastic Inc. ISBN: 059048141X

 

The protagonist in this story is a fourteen year old girl named LaVaughn.  She needs a job so that she can save money for college.  She learns very quickly that she doesn’t want to turn out like Jolly.  Jolly is a seventeen year old girl that has two children and no husband.  Jolly is the sole supporter of the household but has to hire LaVaughn to take care of her two children.

 

Both characters were good for each other.  Jolly needed someone to take care of her children but it wound up that LaVaughn would have to take care of Jolly too.  LaVaughn needs to earn some money to go to college.  They both learn from each other.  Jolly learns not to be a victim anymore and as LaVaughn’s mother would say, “take hold.”  Jolly learns that there is help for people that don’t have anyone but she will have to ask for the help and work for the help because it won’t just be handed to her.

 

LaVaughn also learns that she is hindering Jolly by working for free while watching her children because if LaVaughn quits working for Jolly, Jolly will have to seek help.  Which she does, but then requests that LaVaughn be the one to get paid for her babysitting services.  LaVaughn learns what hard work it is to take care of children and to not judge Jolly because she is doing the best she can do.  LaVaughn’s experience with Jolly is what actually helps her stay on track with what LaVaughn wants to accomplish in her life and with her goals.

 

MAKE LEMONADE is ultimately a story about two young girls who learn from each other and come into their own.  It is wonderful how Virgina Wolffe has Jolly in the end learning to take care of her children.  This was the most rewarding part because of the innocent children involved.  The story gives hope that even though the cards can be stacked up against someone, there is still a way to help one’s self.  In this case it was wonderful because Jolly does “take hold” and learns to take care of herself and her children.   

 

The symbolism of the lemon tree shows how that although one is trying hard to make something grow and change there are going to be set backs and hard times.  Then in the end what you get out of your hard work is a plant that will give lemons.  One can also infer that when one gets lemons out of life one can make lemonade out of it and not let life get the best of them.

 

This book is defiantly a young adult story and has the characteristics of contemporary realistic fiction.  The setting is in our day time of welfare and the plot is realistic of what young mothers with fatherless children face everyday.

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Rowling, J. K. 1997. HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE. New York: Scholastic Inc. ISBN: 059035342X

 

J. K. Rowling does a fantastic job at creating a wonderfully action packed and suspenseful story with a lot of magic, twists and turns.  Just when one thinks they know who the one is that is causing all the trouble at the school, it ends up being the most unlikely person.

 

Rowling captivates the audience in this first book in the series of Harry Potter from the very beginning, with the plot starting off having the audience feeling sorry for Harry Potter.  He is an orphan that was left with his aunt and uncle, the Dursleys, who just mistreat him because they know he comes from wizardry.  They have a wretched son that torments and tries to get Harry in trouble all the time, but they have Harry living in a closet at the foot of the stairs.

 

It is not until Harry receives a letter, after many times of being delivered but only to be intercepted by the uncle, does Harry realize that he is a wizard.  This is when Harry understands why he is so different, but this all changes when he is summoned to come to Hogwarts School of witchcraft and wizardry.

 

Harry’s life changes once he realizes he is a wizard and goes off to Hogwart.  For one, he will not have to endure the Dursley family for a whole school year and second, he will meet new people, make friends with people that care about him and learn to be a really good player of quidditch.  Actually, he finds out he is rather a legend in the wizardry world because he defied you know who, Voldemort.

 

Harry learns so much in his new adventure with Professor Dumbledore as his mentor and father figure. He also meets Hagrid, who is like Harry’s personal body guard and teaches everything he needs to know about becoming a wizard.

 

This is a story of a young man finding his place in society and learning to understand who he is and what he needs to do to survive in his new found life.  As the story goes along, he is learning about life which is both good and evil.

 

Rowling does a great job of taking the reader on a journey with Harry Potter through magic and laughter.  There are so many scenes where one laughs out loud at the story line created by Rowling.  The adventures begin with Dudley falling in the snake pit, continuing with the human chess game, and ending with Harry fighting with Voldemort for the sorcerer’s stone. This book, and all of Harry Potter series books, takes one out of one’s ordinary life and builds a captivating story by the descriptive language which helps the reader create a picture and imagine one is at Hogwart.

 

This series of books are considered to be high fantasy because of all the magic portrayed in them.  It is also one of the series that is most censored and banned by the religious community, because of the magic.

 

It is interesting that these books would be taken as such because if anything Harry is a protagonist that everyone is rooting for because he is taken advantage of and seems like everyone wants to kill him.  This story is so much more than magic.  The book is more about a child trying to fit in a world where he is seen as different and how he handles these situations.  It is also about loyalty and friendship and being the one that saves the day.

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Farmer, Nancy. 2002. THE HOUSE OF THE SCORPION. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 0689852223

 

THE HOUSE OF THE SCORPION is definitely a science fiction story.  The time frame is set in the future at the Alacran estate that lies between the United States and what used to be called Mexico.  This is a story about a 140 year old drug lord by the name of El Patron.  He wants to live forever so he has clones created for him so that he can implant their body parts to his body once he starts failing in his old age.

 

The story starts with his clone named Matt.  It begins with Matt being harvested from a cow after nine months and then takes us to the point where he is an adult.  Matt’s life is very sheltered because he is not allowed to see people.  Then, he is discovered by some children and everyone sees El Patron’s clone. They are disgusted by him.  The only thing that saves him from everyone is El Patron, because he loves him and wants him around.

 

As Matt is growing and learning who he is and the purpose for his existence, he is learning to be a scholar and a musician.  The more he learns about who he is, he realizes that as a clone he will be marked forever and despised by everyone.  The only person that he can trust is Celia, the woman that has raised him, his bodyguard Tam Lin and his only friend Maria, which is a love hate relationship on her part.

 

It is a story of lies and deceit beginning with El Patron’s family backstabbing each other.  No one is allowed to leave because whatever El Patron owns, he keeps, even his illegitimate great great grandson.  The only mistake that Matt made was trusting El Patron.  When it was time, El Patron was ready to kill Matt to implant his heart.  His caregiver Celia saves him in an ironic way by poisoning him with arsenic and thus making his heart damaged for implanting.  He was only safe while El Patron was alive, but once he died Matt was in great danger.  So, it was time to flee but who could he trust and count on, thanks to Tam Lin he was able to flee.

 

It is a story of suspense, betrayal and a boy becoming a man, even if he is a clone.  It is amazing all that Matt has learned from El Patron, which is what helps Matt escape from the Alacran estate and the Plankton Factory.  He went from being killed to being imprisoned in the factory to surviving and gaining control of the Alacron estate.  Matt is a character that everyone is rutting for and hopes that he is somehow kept alive.  Which in the end it is a happy ending with the good guy prevailing.

 

Nancy Farmer is very knowledgeable about the customs and the ways of the Mexican people.  She has either lived it or researched her information very well.  The story is not only plausible but the reality of the Mexican culture is apparent.  One example would be the use of the dia de los muertos and all the ancient stories of la Llorona and Chupacabras.

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