Saturday, July 30, 2016

Lessons from a Junkyard

Sadie Kingston is a teenaged girl who visits a wrecked car in a junkyard several times a week. Why in the world would anyone do that?     

THE LIES ABOUT TRUTH by Courtney C. Stevens, Harper Teen, 2015.

The car is a total wreck. How could anyone come out of that wreck alive? Sadie did. Her best friend, Trent, the driver, did not. The driver’s brother, Max, a passenger in the back seat, also lived.

Two other teens, Sadie’s boyfriend, Gray, and her best girlfriend, Gina, were riding in the car in front of Sadie, Trent, and Max at the time of the accident.  They were not injured physically. Sadie, however, is badly scarred, both physically and emotionally.

The secrets of all five teens snarl and tangle as the author teases them out. Sadie could confront these secrets, but she walls herself off as she struggles to heal. Why did she live? What direction is her life taking? Is this what she is pondering when she visits the car in the junkyard?

Sadie’s family and the boys’ family have been next door neighbors in Florida since before the kids were born. Both families are solid and their friendships are healthy.  They are good people, kind, caring, trying hard to overcome the great loss to both families.

Max and his parents leave for another country for his dad’s job shortly after the accident, but he and Sadie become close through daily emails. When the family returns, Max and Sadie make it clear that they are “together” even though it’s hard for Gray and Gina to accept.

Author Courtney C. Stevens is an adjunct professor and former youth minister. Her debut novel is Faking Normal.

Although not your typical beach read, this would be an excellent book for youth groups to discuss at a summer retreat. Our church group goes to the beach. The members are independent thinkers with deep convictions. I can imagine them discussing this one around a campfire.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Feeding the Future

Give your young sleuths a mystery of a different sort to puzzle over this summer.

THE STORY OF SEEDS by Nancy F. Castaldo, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016

Author Nancy Castaldo has a passion for saving the world in a way our super heroes never considered. Her first book, Sniffer Dogs: How They and Their Noses Save the World gave the reading world a glimpse into her tenacious research.

Now she takes note of this shocking fact: one in five plants on earth are threatened with extinction.

She asks, “Who is protecting our seeds?”

To find answers, author Castaldo crossed the country from her hometown in the Hudson Valley of New York to California and traveled the globe, all the way to Russia in the dead of winter.  What she found becomes a reader’s introduction to quiet heroes who work behind the scenes, sometimes risking their lives, sometimes giving their lives up entirely, all in their mission to save seeds for future generations.

This is a book for everyone to read and ponder before and after a trip to the corner grocery. Who knew going to the market--any fruit and vegetable market--with Mom or Dad could be so intriguing?

THE STORY OF SEEDS paired with Fresh Delicious by Irene Latham, would make a great set of books for those who set up those wonderful farmers’ markets to sell right alongside the tomatoes. 

Hillview School Library