Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Shelf Life [kids]

Defriended by Ruth Baron, 248 pages.
Jason has fallen for Lacey. She has the same interests as him: she plays the guitar, loves alternative bands and has a great sense of humour. From her online photos, Jason thinks she’s cute, too. The two have been chatting on Facebook each evening for months ... but they have never met in person. Lacey refuses to do so. Why?
Jason googles Lacey’s name and is stunned by what he discovers. As reported by a number of newspapers, Lacey died a year earlier.
The obituaries and memorial pages have no details about her death. How did she die – and who has been chatting with him online in Lacey’s place? Could this be a weird case of identity theft?
Jason feels that he must learn the answers to his questions, but this proves to be complicated and dangerous. Someone doesn’t want him to know the truth. Jason has no idea who he can trust or believe because everyone, even Lacey’s best friend, is hiding something. As he continues to probe, the secrets and deceit surrounding Lacey’s death lead to even more danger for Jason.
Ruth Baron’s debut novel is a suspenseful, well-written mystery for teens featuring plenty of intrigue and a cast of authentic, conceivable characters.

** Recommended for ages 13 to 16 years.

So Much It Hurts by Monique Polak, 279 pages.

When 17-year-old Iris is cast as Ophelia in her school’s production of Hamlet, she becomes involved in a relationship with the attractive 31-year-old director, Mick.
Like other people, Iris wants to love someone and be loved, and she’s flattered by his attention. She misses, and then tries to ignore, the growing signs of trouble. Mick’s charm is soon replaced by criticism, anger and controlling behavior. He separates her from her family and friends, and becomes punishing and physically abusive.
Iris makes excuses for Mick as she tries to conceal the bruises on her face and hide her physical and emotional pain. However, a time comes when she can’t hide these things any longer from her mother and her friends.
So Much It Hurts is a candid, realistic case of an abusive relationship and victim mentality. Featuring a believable and likeable protagonist, this important book will serve to enlighten teens of the signs and dangers of abusive relationships. The parallels between Iris and Ophelia are effective and poignant – but fortunately, the endings to their stories are not similar.
Canadian author Monique Polak has also written Miracleville, What World is Left? and various other novels for teens.

** Recommended for ages 13 to 16 years.

This review appeared in the Stratford Gazette on February 13, 2014. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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