Cowboy & Octopus, or Jean-Paul Sartre on the Joy of Other People

“Some things work better with a friend,” declares Octopus at the opening of Jon Scieszka’s book, Cowboy & Octopus. “You wanna be friends?” Cowboy reckons back in this tale of two very unlikely sidekicks.  From a humble beginning spent figuring out the physics of a seesaw, the book goes on to chronicle, through the eyes of these two characters, the trials and triumphs that all friendships go through, and the ways we adapt and cope to make those friendships endure. Continue reading “Cowboy & Octopus, or Jean-Paul Sartre on the Joy of Other People”

Staff Review: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Book cover for Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Have you ever felt invisible? Sydney Stanford has. The story starts with Peyton, her exciting, charismatic older brother being sentenced to prison for driving while under the influence and causing serious injury to a young man. Instead of returning to her posh, private school Sydney decides to go to Jackson High, the local public school. Feeling adrift her first day at a noisier, bigger and unfamiliar school Sydney looks for something familiar and finds herself at Seaside Pizza. There she meets the Chatham family and her life begins to change.

First, there is Layla who welcomes Sydney as a friend and welcomes her into her circle. Then there is Mac who is quiet and shy and plays drums in a band (possible romantic interest?). Mrs. Chatham is the matriarch of the family and suffers from MS. However, as Sydney begins to build her life away from the influence of her brother and her family, things at home get more complicated. Her mother is trying to pretend that life is normal and plans cookouts and get-togethers at the prison where Peyton is. Meanwhile, Ames Bentley, Peyton’s best friend and sponsor, continually makes Sydney uncomfortable with his continual presence and unwanted attention. In the end, however, Sydney steps out of the shadows and finds herself, her voice and shows her parents that she is her own person and is through living in the shadow of her brother.

Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors. Her main audience is teens and this is her twelfth book. I loved this book. Sydney, the main character, is well developed and as in any other well written book becomes someone you care about and are rooting for. The struggles she has are ones that anyone who felt like an awkward teen just looking for a place to belong can relate to. The new relationships she starts with the Chatham family are healthy and good and give her the self confidence she needs to recognize the relationships at home that are not. As with any other book by Sarah Dessen, it ends with the characters in a place where they begin understanding each other and want to heal and move on. It’s a book I wanted to take my time with and I was sad when it was over.

Pick up a copy of Saint Anything today.

Staff Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

me and earl

Ever read a book that made you laugh at loud on nearly every page, and you feel like an idiot reading it in public because people might think you’re a little insane? Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is one of those books. As the title suggests, this is a book about a teenager, his sort-of friend Earl, and a dying girl.

Greg Gaines is a senior in high school, and he’s managed to get through the past few years by blending in with all the cliques and never getting too close to anyone. This is no easy feat; it takes hard work and constant vigilance to melt with ease through the various social groups. On his first day of senior year, he realizes that maybe all that hard work will pay off and his final year will be awesome. That is, until he gets home from school and his mom drops the bomb: a girl he went to Hebrew school with has leukemia and Greg should really spend some time with her. Thus begins the story of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Continue reading “Staff Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”