Southbury Teen Review Blog

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The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak Celebrates 10th Anniversary March 8, 2016

Filed under: Books,Uncategorized — Heather @ 6:31 pm
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It’s hard to believe it’s been TEN YEARS since the publication of Marcus Zusak’s modern classic The Book Thief. This is the book that took 2006 by storm.

book thief cover

Here are just some of the honors awarded:

  • 2006: Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book (South East Asia & South Pacific)
  • 2006: School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
  • 2006: Daniel Elliott Peace Award
  • 2006: Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Book of the Year
  • 2006: National Jewish Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature
  • 2006: Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book
  • 2007: Michael L. Printz Honor Book The Printz award is given to the best book for teens, based only on the quality of the writing.
  • 2007: Book Sense Book of the Year Award for Children’s Literature

If you’ve never read it – here’s your chance. If, like me, it’s one of your favorites, pick it up and revisit some old friends. Set in Nazi Germany, The Book Thief tells the story of young Liesl Meminger, orphaned and sent to live with Hans and Rosa Hubermann. Liesl loves books and becomes adept at stealing them, even though she can’t read. Follow Liesl, her best friend Rudy Steiner, as they navigate the dangerous war years. Narrated by the ever-present Death, The Book Thief is a story that stays with you long after the pages have turned.



Wintergirls April 22, 2013

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson


“Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia is a wintergirl – frozen between life and death.  She is living in a shell of a body, a body she hates, a body she starves.  When her best friend Cassie is found dead, Lia is thrust into a spiral of self-destructive behaviors that threaten her life.  Faced with her guilt and grief, Lia must confront her own eating disorder and decide if she truly wants to live or if she would rather cross over and join Cassie as a wintergirl.

Rarely does a book move me as much as Anderson’s Wintergirls.  Chapters numbered by pounds and ounces weighed my progress through the book.  Whispered taunts and negative self-talk haunted us on Lia’s journey. The voice of Lia rings loud and true, giving us an accurate portrayal of the descent into madness and sickness Anorexia truly is.  A cautionary tale, this should be required reading for every young girl, especially those concerned with body image and weight.


Paper Covers Rock April 17, 2013

Filed under: Books — Heather @ 3:16 pm
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Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard

paper covers rock coverIn honor of April being National Poetry Month, I’ve chosen to highlight the William C. Morris Debut Finalist, Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard.

Set in 1982, Alex is a High School Junior at an exclusive boarding school in North Carolina.  One drunken night, Alex and his friends make some terrible choices that lead to the accidental drowning of schoolmate Thomas.  In an attempt to conceal the nature of the accident, more terrible choices are made.  Alex narrates the repercussions of those past events, as his guilt and grief linger in the present.

Miss Dovecott, the object of every students’ fantasies, may be aware that there is more to the story than the boys are letting on. Faced with coming clean and facing the truth, Alex and his friends perpetuate their lies with dire consequences.

Paper Covers Rock is more that  a little reminiscent of John Knowles’ classic boarding school/accidental death tale, A Separate Peace.  Hubbard cleverly weaves literary references to Moby Dick, the metaphor of all metaphors.


Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu February 24, 2013

Filed under: Books — Heather @ 8:29 pm
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dirtylittlesecretsLucy Tompkins has a dirty little secret…her mother is a hoarder.  For years her mother has been “collecting” items that are too precious to throw out.  The result is a house filled to the ceiling with newspapers, clothes and garbage.  There is no heat and no running water.  Lucy navigates her way around the trash and her mother’s illness, biding her time until she can leave the house like her two older siblings.  This is the deep, dark secret she’s been living with her whole life.  Lucy has artfully controlled the situation by never letting anyone in her home and choosing her friends carefully.  All that falls apart when she returns from a sleepover to find her mother has died under a pile of National Geographic magazines.  Panic-stricken she starts to dial 911, but stops.  If the authorities come…everyone will know their dirty little secret!

The majority of the novel deals with Lucy’s attempt to clean up her house so she can attend to her mother.  At first I didn’t understand why she just wouldn’t call for help.  Her mother’s dead, who cares about the house.  But then we are given a glimpse into exactly what Lucy has been living with.  If you’ve ever seen the TV shows about hoarders, you’ll understand.  Lucy’s mother has saved every single scrap for years and years, and it’s all in the house.  There’s no where to walk except for winding, claustrophobic paths carved into the debris.  The smell is overwhelming. Lucy recalls how family members have tried to help and clean up in the past.  This was seen by her mother as a betrayal.  Lucy has no choice but to live in the squalor until she graduates.

Her mother’s sudden death has made Lucy take action like never before.  The dichotomy between the anger and sadness she feels towards her is perfect.  Lucy is finally free of her mother and she’s left with the mess, but the fact is that her mother has died.  The guilt she feels for not mourning properly is equaled by her fear and sadness.  By the end of this Dirty Little Secrets I came away with a great respect for Lucy and her strength to endure her mother’s illness and try to protect her family.  I can not even imagine what it must be like to live and function in this situation.  For many people out there, this is a reality.  I applaud C.J. Omololu for shedding light on the issue of hoarding and those it affects.