LEARNING TO FLY

Seventeen-year-old Jason is having a hard time adjusting to life as a new Chinese immigrant in a small Ontario town. His parents have split, and he must work long hours in his mom’s deli to help out. Lonely and disenfranchised, he’s made no friends, save the potheads he gets stoned with, and is often the butt of school bullies’ jokes. Then he meets Chief, a First Nations teen whose life is much harder than his own. When Jason is arrested for marijuana possession while making a buy from his dealer and Chief’s sister dies from an overdose, the two loners lean on each other to make it through. Like other Orca Soundings titles, this novel discusses high-interest topics like drug use, racism and bullying at a comprehension level that is comfortable for reluctant readers. Yee, the author of several works for teen readers, employs a spare writing style that is well suited to this format. Interested readers may also enjoy his similarly themed short-story collection What Happened This Summer (2006). (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-55143-955-6

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2008

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

BURIED ONIONS

Eddie, a young Mexican-American scraping by in the mean streets of Fresno, California, counts four dead relatives and one dead friend in the opening, in-your-face lines of this new novel from Soto (Snapshots from the Wedding, p. 228, etc.). In bleak sentences of whispered beauty, Eddie tells how he dropped out of vocational college and is attempting to get by with odd jobs. His aunt and friends want him to avenge the recent murder of his cousin, but Eddie just wants to find a way out. Everything he tries turns soura stint doing yard work ends when his boss's truck is stolen on Eddie's watchand life is a daily battle for survival. This unrelenting portrait is unsparing in squalid details: The glue sniffers, gangs, bums, casual knifings, filth, and stench are in the forefront of a life without much hope``Laundry wept from the lines, the faded flags of poor, ignorant, unemployable people.'' Soto plays the tale straightthe only sign of a ``happy'' ending is in Eddie's joining the Navy. The result is a sort of Fresno Salaam Bombay without the pockets of humanity that gave the original its charm. A valuable tale, it's one that makes no concessions. (glossary) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-15-201333-4

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY

Han’s leisurely paced, somewhat somber narrative revisits several beach-house summers in flashback through the eyes of now 15-year-old Isabel, known to all as Belly. Belly measures her growing self by these summers and by her lifelong relationship with the older boys, her brother and her mother’s best friend’s two sons. Belly’s dawning awareness of her sexuality and that of the boys is a strong theme, as is the sense of summer as a separate and reflective time and place: Readers get glimpses of kisses on the beach, her best friend’s flirtations during one summer’s visit, a first date. In the background the two mothers renew their friendship each year, and Lauren, Belly’s mother, provides support for her friend—if not, unfortunately, for the children—in Susannah’s losing battle with breast cancer. Besides the mostly off-stage issue of a parent’s severe illness there’s not much here to challenge most readers—driving, beer-drinking, divorce, a moment of surprise at the mothers smoking medicinal pot together. The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a diversion. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 5, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6823-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more