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Tag: Tara Altebrando

#QP2019 Nominees Round Up, September 18 Edition

The Opposite of Here by Tara Altebrando
Bloomsbury / Bloomsbury YA
Publication Date: June 6, 2018
ISBN: 9781681197067  

Natalie and her three best friends set sail on what is supposed to be a relaxing 17th birthday cruise, but Natalie is still reeling from the tragic death of her boyfriend. Enter an attractive and elusive mystery guy no one seems to know anything about. Natalie finds herself falling for him, without even knowing his name, after only one intense encounter. When he seems to go missing from the ship, Natalie begins to question her own sanity, especially since her friends do not believe he truly exists, let alone is missing. In the process, she reveals hidden secrets this mystery man and her own best friends would rather keep submerged.

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#QP2018 Nominees Round Up

Today’s Quick Picks nominees are filled with thrills and chills.

Breaking by Danielle Rollins
Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
ISBN: 9781619637405

Charlotte has never been a top student at her prestigious, expensive, academically rigorous boarding school. Her best friends Ariel and Devon, however, are true Weston Prep material – freakishly smart and incredibly talented at a multitude of things. Understandably, Charlotte is reeling after they both commit suicide within weeks of each other – they were pretty much her only real family. Then she discovers a clue… and realizes that Ariel has left her a trail of breadcrumbs right to the answer to all her questions. If she’s brave enough and clever enough to figure out the puzzle, what she learns will change everything. Breaking is a companion novel to Rollins’s first book, Burning, and reading them in order may provide more details and context about situations mentioned in Breaking, but it is not strictly necessary.

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Bookish Brew: Summer Smoothie Edition

Image by Flickr user Pamela Bates
Image by Flickr user Pamela Bates

I don’t know what the weather’s like where you are, but here in southern California we’ve had some pretty hot days recently.  So I thought that for this entry in my occasional Bookish Brew series, a cool summer smoothie would be more in order than a hot drink.  Make that two smoothies– one for each of the narrators of Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando’s wonderful and authentic Roomies (2015 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers Nominations List). 

When Roomies begins, teens Lauren and Elizabeth are a couple months away from starting their freshman year at the University of California, Berkeley.  They have just received each other’s names and email addresses from the campus housing office because they have been matched as dorm roommates.  Lauren lives in San Francisco, California, which is not far from the city of Berkeley.  In her loving two-parent family, she is the eldest of her siblings by several years.  Her responsible nature may stem partly from her heavy child-rearing responsibilities.  She is somewhat shy, concerned with honesty and aims to work in scientific research.  Elizabeth, also known as E.B., lives in suburban New Jersey near the Shore with her single divorced mom with whom she does not have a close relationship.  Elizabeth can be overly sensitive at times and is more impulsive than Lauren, as well as more outgoing.  She plans to study landscape architecture. 

roomies zarr altebrandoInitiated by Elizabeth of course, the two begin an email correspondence over the summer.  They share the details of their lives and soon after their feelings and frustrations about friends, family and boyfriends.  This is not an epistolary novel, however; these emails are one component of a traditional narrative.  The two girls alternate narrating chapters. 

Initially Lauren and Elizabeth experience a mainly positive interaction, getting a feel for each other’s personalities, leaning on each other throughout a couple situations in their personal lives and sharing the joys of their respective first loves.  A misunderstanding arises, however, connected to Elizabeth‘s estranged father, who lives and owns an art gallery in San Francisco.  Both girls are challenged to look at the situation through the other’s eyes and decide whether reconciliation is possible.  In an interview with Harvard Magazine (September-October 2014) Tara Altebrando describes how she and Sara Zarr wrote the book both separately and together over a period of three years and mentions that they are considering either a sequel or another collaborative project.

I highly recommend listening to the audiobook version of Roomies if you can, which is voiced by Becca Battoe and Emily Eiden.  These two readers do an amazing job of vocally capturing the distinct rhythms and personalities of Lauren and Elizabeth, not to mention the differences in regional accents. 

But now the time has come to blend!  When choosing the ingredients for a “bookish brew” I consider the setting and the essential traits or qualities of the main character of a novel.  As there are two quite distinct main characters in Roomies, I’ve created two smoothies. 

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Teen Tech Week: YA Fiction About Online Life

TTW14_featureslideGiven the central role that the Internet plays in so many people’s lives these days, it is hard to believe that this has been the case for less than 20 years. As with all great technologies, it has brought with it a whole spectrum of positive and negative changes, and has fundamentally altered the way that people meet friends, keep in touch across great distances, and express themselves.

Whether you want to keep in touch with friends both far and near, feel awkward in social situations, or are simply interested in connecting with others who share your specific interests, the Internet offers a whole new way to socialize, communicate and create.

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Is This the Real Life? YA Books with Multiple Perspectives

One of my favorite types of books in the contemporary genre is the dual or multi-narrative. I’m sure I will revisit this topic again in future posts about contemporary YA fiction, but these were the first five titles that popped into my head when I started to make my list. I know I am missing a lot, so maybe this will just be part one?

Will GraysonWill Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (2011 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults and 2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults)

Told from the point of view of two Will Graysons whose lives change drastically when they meet. Both Wills are trying to find their way, and share how their lives are affected by knowing one Tiny Cooper, who is not tiny in any sense of the word.

Clean by Amy Reed (2012 Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers)

Five different points of view from teens while in rehab. They are forced together to face their demons, their sobriety, and who they are without the addiction.

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Heading to College? Read These Books First

Photo by Jason B. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Photo by Jason B. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

For many colleges and universities, this week marks the beginning of the new year, which is an exciting time of seeing old friends, making new friends, choosing your classes and buying textbooks. And, for many high school seniors, fall semester represents the start of the college application process. In honor of these two annual traditions, September seems like the perfect time for a post on books that focus on this transition to college.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys – Set in New Orleans in the 1950s, this historical novel from 2012 Morris Award finalist Ruta Sepetys tells the story of Josie Moraine. She is the daughter of a prostitute who is determined to make it out of New Orleans and away from the type of life that her mother has created for herself, both literally when she moves out of the brothel to live on her own above a bookshop and figuratively. Her greatest dream is to find a way to attend a prestigious college in the north. But to achieve this goal, she will have to fight against influences in her life that are trying to draw her back into the world of illicit activities and shady characters that she has so long fought against.

Hacking Harvard by Robin Wasserman – A group of hackers decide to undertake the ultimate challenge: find a way to get a completely unqualified classmate into Harvard University. But, a simple bet makes what seemed to be nothing more than a personal challenge into something with stakes that are quite a bit higher. A perfect read for anyone who is immersed in college applications and is looking to see the lighter side of the admissions process.

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Jukebooks: The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life by Tara Altebrando

The Best Night of Your Pathetic Life by Tara AltebrandoMany high schools have a senior tradition that is not sanctioned by the school and may be vaguely illegal such as senior pranks, raucous parties involving national monuments, or just a night of endless cruising. In Tara Alterbrando’s The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life, it’s the Official Unofficial Senior Week Scavenger Hunt, in which groups compete for the highest number of points, awarded by collecting items on the list. Mary and her team of three friends have a hilarious, bittersweet night that feels in the end like crossing the official finish line of high school.

Like many parties, a great part of the fun is in the anticipation. Particularly when it comes to unofficial school traditions, kids wait years to hit their senior year and earn a legitimate piece of the action. That’s why I matched this book with a party anthem by the Black Eyed Peas, I Gotta Feeling.

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