As promised, three more recommendations to catch up on the days I've missed!!! And as the rush of December and life kind of swamp me, my recs will be sincere enough but perhaps not as "in depth" as they should be. (Yes, that's a way of saying I'm a slack blogger. Yikes!)
Today, I'm tipping my hat to Edward Bloor. I've heard about TANGERINE for the last ten years or so and was always intrigued but never got around to reading it until this past year. I. Loved. It!
Paul is your average seventh grader ... except for the fact he's "legally blind" and his brother is a psychopath. He has distorted flashbacks about why he's blind, but his fear of learning the truth blocks memories.(Yeah. it's not every day we face those kinds of obstacles).
Paul's looking forward to a fresh start in Tangerine, Florida. While his mom and dad are wrapped up in work and his brother's "football dream", Paul proves himself to be one of the best soccer players at the school, befriends a group of "tough kids", and learns to love the art of tangerine growing. What's most remarkable and wonderful about this novel is Paul -- unassuming, kind, and though he doesn't think so, incredibly courageous. (It takes loads of courage to be kind.) This is a great novel to read for readers and writers, like a blueprint on how to create a complex and wonderfully developed, unexpected hero.
Another classic on my list falls into that "uncomfortable read" category. It's truly, though, one of the most masterful YA novels I've ever read. Most have heard of Robert Cormier's, THE CHOCOLATE WAR. I read it, for the first time, several years ago and just wanted to weep. Jerry begins his refusal to sell chocolates for the annual school fund raiser because he's put up to it by the school mafia -- the kids who really rule the school. But when they tell him it's time to sell and he refuses, the entire balance of power rocks and Jerry becomes an anti-hero, pariah, scapegoat, loathed, admired and totally misunderstood. This is a brutal study of human nature and how we live in a clockwork society -- and what happens to those who live on the edge of what we consider "normal". Intense. Heartbreaking. I'd venture to say it's edging toward that "must read" pile. (Though I hate those "must read" piles because, heck, if anybody told me I "must read" Ulysses, I'd poke my eyes out.) Simply phenomenal. How's that? (Instead of "must read.")
My final rec for the day is a psychological thriller. THE OTHER, published in 1971 and written by Thomas Tryon, is about thirteen-year-old twins growing up in Connecticut in the thirties. One is the "good twin", the other absolutely evil. It takes the reader on a freaky journey through two incredibly messed up kids and has one of those "holy crap" endings. I read it in high school (ahem, over twenty years ago) and still remember wishing I could sleep in my parents' room for about a week. (I didn't. But don't think I didn't REALLY consider it.) Don't read this at night.