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Turn the Page Tuesday, Read This: “Where’d You Go Bernadette”

I know I’m behind the times on this one, but oh my goodness! When I saw that Where’d You Go Bernadette was finally available at my local library I had to check it out, and bring it with me to my parents for some time off at the beach over the 4th of July weekend. What a perfect beach read, but also what a perfect ANYWHERE read! I laughed, I teared up, I throughly enjoyed the witty, dry humor of Maria Semple. The writing style reminded me of a Wes Anderson film, and I was in love with the alternating perspectives revealed in e-mails, memos, and various other forms of correspondence.

I’m awful at describing something I love without getting carried away, and trying to hide the surprises, but essentially the story involves teenage Bee, her architect mom, her dad who works for Microsoft, a slew of crazy private school mothers and an extremely entertaining collection of other characters living in Seattle. Instead of giving away exciting plot points, I’d rather just convey my affection for this book by explaining that I wasn’t even halfway through when I declared it must be added to my favorites list. It’s that good. I hadn’t felt like I’d stumbled upon a creative piece of work so refreshing in quite some time. Some authors have a strange condescending sort of air to their writing, while Semple never seemed to discredit her audience.

If you’ve noticed this book on display in a variety of places, or heard the buzz, or your friends have recommended it – there’s a reason for it. It’s one of the best titles I’ve read this year. If you haven’t read it yet, do yourself a favor and get on that as soon as possible!

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Read This: “Everyday”

I went to the library last week, (I know my to-read list is outrageously long, but I had to pay a fine and couldn’t resist a quick browse) and to my surprise David Levithan’s Everyday was siting on the shelf, just waiting for me! I’d seen John Green tweet about and the basic premise of the story fascinated me. As soon as I finished Off Balance I started in on this new YA novel. David Levithan co-wrote other books I really enjoyed like Dash and Lilly’s Book of Dares, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (both with Rachel Cohn) and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green.)

Everyday is the story of a “person” (using this term lightly) who since the day he (using lightly too) was born, wakes up in the body of a different person every morning. The narrator calls himself A. He does his best not to interrupt the life of the person he’s embodying each day. Whether that means, doing chores or homework, participating in sporting events, keeping track of the diet of a diabetic, appeasing a boyfriend…whatever it takes. That was until he found himself in the body of a teenage boy named Justin. Justin doesn’t treat his girlfriend Rhiannon very well, and A just can’t go along with that. He basically has one of the best days of his existence while in Justin’s body, on his sweet day with Rhiannon. After that, no matter who’s body he wakes up in Rhiannon is the first person he thinks of. A has the ability to compartmentalize, so even though he can access the memories of the person’s body he’s in, he can keep track of his own past. He has an email account he emails himself important things he’d like to remember. Yeah, this existence is as bizarre as it sounds. His main goal each day ends up being to try and make his way to Rhiannon, but how long can that go on for? He may be in love with her, but can she fall in love with someone who lives inside a different person each day? There are other things to worry about, too. What if he messes up things, (think The Butterfly Effect.) Is A the only one out there with this ability? So many questions, so few answers.

I’ve already given away more of the story than I normally would, but the concept is just fascinating! As soon as I finished, (much like after I watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower) I just wanted to converse with someone about it. Have you read Everyday yet? Thoughts? Opinions? Share with me in the comments!

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Read This: Chopsticks

While I am still in the midst of reading The Probability of Miracles (it’s been my bathtub go-to read, lately) I also read this amazing book Chopsticks over the weekend. I stopped by the library on Friday after work to return a few books, and I browsed the YA Fiction section (because it’s basically impossible for me not to make a visit and check it out!) I was so shocked to see this on the display table. There was a lot of buzz surrounding this book when it was first released back in February (published by Penguin) because it really is a unique piece of art. I planned to order it online, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet. I don’t know that there’s been anything else quite like it. First of all, it’s just visually stunning. Second of all, it’s amazing how touching a story of so few words can be. Thirdly (?) there’s a iPhone app you can download for $6.99 that goes with the book! (I haven’t downloaded it, so I can’t tell you much about it but I still think that’s exciting. Plus I saw plenty of people tweet about it before.) Okay so you know all these cool facts about the book, but you’re probably still curious about the basic plot line right? Glory is a famous teenage pianist, her father is her instructor, and she has a really rigorous schedule of practice and performing. Frank moves in next door, and soon the two talented teens have a blossoming romance. Glory’s father doesn’t approve because it’s a distraction from Glory’s career. Now Glory has gone missing! Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral take readers on an emotional journey with these two characters. When I attempted to describe it to my roommate I told her it was kind of like looking over a scrapbook. There are gorgeous photos, brilliant playlists, and instant messaging conversations that include links to Youtube videos. I tried to move through the pages really slowly as not to miss any details of the photographs and news clippings. I felt like I do when I’m standing in an art museum (I could stay in one room staring at pieces for hours.) If you haven’t checked out this awesome book yet, I strongly suggest you do! Have you already read it, and wanna chat? Leave a comment! Also, fun link: Chopsticks has its own Tumblr!

One more thing, you can take a look for yourself at what I’m talking about in this video:

 

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Read This: Love, Stargirl

As I mentioned before, I finally read Jerry Spinelli’s Stargirl a few weeks ago. One of the lucky parts of being behind in things is that there’s more to catch up on, (which was the case for me in watching Friday Night Lights and Downton Abbey, or reading The Hunger Games trilogy) for a person with highly addictive tendencies, it’s great because I don’t have to be patient! That’s what happened after I read Stargirl, the sequel Love, Stargirl Spinelli penned years later was already waiting for me on the library shelf.

In Love, Stargirl we actually get to see the world from Stargirl Carraway’s perspective – what a treat! A window into the mind and heart of a generous, compassionate, intense girl with the best intentions and the grandest ideas. The story is told in letter form as Stargirl writes to her former boyfriend, (but he really is much more isn’t he?) Leo Burlock. She tells Leo of her new adventures in a small town in Pennsylvania – of course there are many of these (who would expect anything less?) as she befriends an adorable six-year-old Dootsie, an agoraphobic neighbor Betty Lou, and a wild “pip” of an eleven year old girl Alvina. Stargirl whose mother is back to homeschooling, is still writing poetry, and taking “field trips” with her pet rat Cinnamon as a constant companion, and on a quest to fill her happy wagon. Surprises are in store for you as Stargirl learns more about herself, love, and the world around her.

Maybe I’m just a sap but I find that I’ve teared up several times reading Stargirl’s stories. Her zest for life is inspiring and intriguing, and it makes me want to carry around a piece of her outlook wherever I go. Though, I like to think we share some off-beat zany habits, anyway.

So, if you were a fan of Stargirl then I definitely recommend you check out this sequel, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

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Read This: Stargirl

Img from Wikipedia page.

So, let me start off by saying that I’m painfully aware I read Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli about twelve years too late. Even when you’re late to the party, the punch is still sweet. (What does that even mean? I don’t know, but it made sense in my head at the time.) What I’m saying is this was published in 2000. I was only twelve, and I vaguely remember the cover splashed across pages of book orders (remember that awesomeness? Cool books for CHEAP!) and on shelves in the school library, or at book fairs. My friend Kirsten has always loved this book. There isn’t any real reason why I didn’t get around to reading it. I even think I checked it out from the public library one summer, (and I’m ashamed to say, I must have returned it back unread.) I’ve redeemed myself after a recent trip to the library, though. I saw it’s pretty teal spine on the shelf, and felt it calling my name, demanding to finally be read; so maybe it’s a twenty-four instead of twelve but the story was not lost on me.

Funny to me how I just mentioned that it’s not very often I read novels with male narrators (YA fiction, or not) but here I am again. Stargirl is told from the perspective of Leo Borlock, a junior at Mica High School. Leo is best friends with Kevin Quinlan and together they’ve created a tv show where they interview their fellow students called Hot Seat. This is interesting enough in itself, but not nearly as interesting as the new girl who shows up on the first day of school. Stargirl Carraway. She’s a sophomore who was home schooled all her life, until now. Eclectic is probably the best adjective to describe her. Outrageous outfits (costumes, prairie skirts,) a pet rat named Cinnamon perched on her shoulder. She strums her ukelele in the cafeteria. My kind of girl, all around awesome. She’s basically like a walking ray of sunshine, a permanent cheerleader encouraging everyone around her. Stargirl is basically the epitome of a good samaritan. Walking to the beat of her own drum, she doesn’t care what others think of her, or how she’s perceived. As you can imagine, while this may have been cute and endearing in the beginning, high-schoolers can be moody and mean so eventually the other Mica students don’t find Stargirl’s bizarre behavior so charming, anymore. Leo, caught under the spell of Stargirl’s wonderful ways finds himself in a constant internal tug-of-war. He continually meets the crossroads of decision – whose attention and approval does he value more: the girl who’s captured his heart or his peers – who unlike Stargirl are inconsistent in their loyalties?

This novel tugged on my heartstrings, and it nestled in a spot of affection where I think it will remain for years to come. The story is predictable in certain ways as humans sometimes are, although I’d venture to say Stargirl is anything but. In an attempt to not spoil the story, I’ll tell you that it’s a sweet one, sprinkled with love and tenderness the innocence of youth possesses. It’s about decisions, growing up, embracing differences, and learning to not take the special people and moments of our surroundings for granted.

If like me, Stargirl is a book that’s flown under your radar, yet to be detected – I urge you to check it out. I doubt you’ll be disappointed! (And on my last trip to the library this most recent Saturday I checked out Spinelli’s 2007 novel Love, Stargirl which I am sure I will fill y’all in on as soon as I’m finished.)