December 5, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide and Two New Books

Just in time for the holiday season, we've filled a display case with books for our annual holiday gift guide.
It's okay if they never make it out of your hands though...they are all pretty great books.  We won't judge you!
(Yes, you can absolutely check them out!)

After the jump are reviews of two fabulous new books we've included in the guide, Jasper Jones and Stolen.

Jasper Jones, by Craig Silvey
Knopf Books: New York, 2011. 

Thirteen-year-old Charlie Bucktin is sick of his small Australian town and looking forward to spend his summer writing and hanging out with his best friend. However, the moment he awakens from a midnight knock on his window and opens it to find the local teenage pariah Jasper Jones seeking his help, his plans and life derail. Charlie, not wanting to seem immature, agrees and climbs of out the window into the night.  In doing so, he becomes privy to Jasper's horrible discovery: a body hanging from a giant hollow eucalyptis in the isolated grove that Jasper hides in when his alcoholic father gets to be too much.  To protect Jasper from taking the blame for a crime he did not commit, the boys hide the body, vowing to find the killer on their own.  Holding onto this unspeakable knowledge, Charlie is catapulted too soon into adulthood in a town filled with fear, racism, and finger pointing, experiencing first love and the agony of both keeping secret this terrible and unraveling a few more in the process.  This timeless coming of age tale is haunting, and charged with emotion, humor, and the unbearable sadness of growing up and away your own childhood.  Skillfully written, this novel often operates from very nostalgic, almost adult voice.  This book is a winner of the Australian Indie Book of the Year award. (Recommended in our guide for fans of To Kill a Mockingbird in the gift guide.)

Stolen, by Lucy Christopher 
Chicken House (Scholastic, Inc.): New York, 2010.

Sixteen-year-old London teenager Gemma is on her way to Vietnam with her parents for vacation when she is drugged and abducted by a handsome, blue-eyed, oddly familiar stranger during her layover in the Bancock airport.  When she finally wakes up, she finds herself in desolate house filled with years of provisions, in the middle of a foreign desert.  Ty, her captor, is the only other human for hundreds of miles.  Naturally, Gemma is terrified, confused, and wants to escape.  Naturally, Ty doesn’t want her to, but curiously also doesn’t want to harm her in any way.  Over time, Gemma discovers that he has been planning this for years, following her and her family, learning everything he could about her as he planned and built his isolated desert compound.  However, as Gemma and her readers come to know Ty, his kindness, and his story, surprising and confusing feelings of sympathy emerge.  In this terrifyingly gripping story of survival, lines are blurred between hate, compassion, empathy, captivity, and freedom. Striking and gorgeous descriptions of the Australian Outback are juxtaposed with a rich, realistic, and evocative spectrum of emotions.  This boldly written first person narrative is recommended for teens grade 8 and up. 
(Recommended in the gift guide for future psychologists.)