Southbury Teen Review Blog

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Boy 21 April 29, 2013

Boy 21 by Matthew Quick


Finley, known as “White Rabbit” to his teammates, loves basketball.  His earliest memories are of shooting hoops under the night sky.  It may be his only chance of escape from Bellmont, a gritty town ruled by the Irish mob.  He and girlfriend, Erin hope to leave for a brighter future by way of college scholarships.

Russell Allen was star ball player and top college recruit.  That was until his parents were murdered and he moved to Bellmont to live with his grandparents.  Now he wants to be known as Boy 21 – and he doesn’t want to play basketball.

Finley is asked by his coach to take Boy 21 under his wing since they both share mysterious and violent pasts.  This unlikely pairing just may be the best thing for both of these stargazers.

Hooked from page 1, I loved every minute of this mesmerizing story.  Not a sports fan?  No worries when picking up this one.  Matthew Quick, author of Sorta Like a Rockstar and The Silver Linings Playbook delivers another emotional and touching story of redemption and the celebration of life.


Breathing Room by Marsha Hayles February 14, 2013

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breathing roomThirteen-year-old Evvy Hoffmeiseter is dropped of at Loon Lake Sanitorium in hopes of curing her tuberculosis.  It’s 1940 and successful treatment with antibiotics was still a few years away.  Rest and exposure to cold air are the only prescriptions.  Trapped in her room, Evvy isn’t supposed to talk or even get out of bed.

Regardless of the dire situation Evvy is able to make friends with her roommates.  Sarah is shy.  Pearl is glamorous.  And Dena is tough.  Together they fight loneliness and the ever-present shadow of death.

Breathing Room is a sneak peek into a lesser-known part of history.  Hundreds of thousands of people died in TB sanitariums in the early part of the twentieth century.  For hundreds of years before, it was a death sentence.  Called the Great White Plague, tuberculosis has been found as early as ancient Egypt.  With recent resurgences of this treatable illness, it is imperative we look to the past and remember those that lost their lives.  Marsha Hayles gives us a look at the life of one of these patients.  Evvy’s quiet dignity and strength are remarkable.  We cry with her losses and cheer for her survival.


Beautiful Days: Bright Young Things #2 by Anna Godbersen February 13, 2013

beautiful days

Beautiful Dayscontinues right where Bright Young Things left off.  Cordelia Gray and Letty Larkspur have shed their former images of small town girls and embraced the city life of the roaring twenties.  After reuniting with her long-lost father, Darius Gray, Cordelia discovers his wealth is the result of criminal behavior.  Also profiting from those bootleg bucks is Cordelia’s half-brother Charlie.  Welcomed by Astrid, Charlie’s fiancée, Cordelia and Letty become accustomed to this lavish lifestyle

Tragically, Cordelia’s father is shot.  Killed by Thom Hale, son of Gray’s rival and object of Cordelia’s affection.  Charlie, Cordelia’s erstwhile brother is now in charge of the family business.  Flapper Astrid has settled into the estate in Long Island but may be having second thoughts about the future.  Letty Larkspur is pursuing a career on Broadway with renewed fervor.  Misadventure continues to plague our trio of beauties as the decade comes to a close.

The saga continues with The Lucky Ones, the third book in the Bright Young Things series by Anna Godbersen.


Leverage by Joshua Cohen


This isn’t your average High School sports story.  Leverage is a story about bullying and abuse.  At its heart, it’s about friendship and survival.

Ruled by the popular yet sadistic football captains, Oregrove High is like any other school.  Gymnasts and footballers engage in an escalating prank war that culminates in the unthinkable.

Danny is a talented gymnast with dreams of the Olympics.  Kurt is the new guy, fresh from foster care, a wounded soul.  His stutter and his size make him an immediate target.  This odd couple comes together to get justice when the school and community turn their back.

Leverage is a super-intense, gritty, and unfortunately realistic take on some extreme bullying and abuse that takes place right beneath our very noses.  Joshua C. Cohen has brilliantly illuminated this taboo and all too common topic.


Withering Tights: The Misadventures of Tallulah Casey by Louise Rennison

withering tights

Do you long for the crazy adventures of Georgia Nicolson as much as I do?  Well, lament no further.  Tallulah Casey is the remedy.  Tallulah is Georgia’s younger cousin, and let me tell you all that wackiness runs in the family.

Tallulah is off to the moors of Yorkshire, yes the land of Heathcliff (that’s a Wuthering Heights reference people!!)  She’s attending Dother Hall, a performing arts school, for the summer.  Kooky locals, cute boys, fabbity fab friends, and an owl named Connie keep our heroine occupied in the country.  And don’t fret, cousin Georgia’s comedy mustache is in good hands.

Louise Rennison again earns her title as the reigning Queen of Teen.  Tallulah is just as funny as Georgia, but with a bit more compassion and room to mature.  Withering Tights is a light-hearted romp you’re sure to enjoy.  I’m already looking forward to the second installment in the series, A Midsummer Tights Dream.


Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

Bright Young Things

1929. New York City. Two girls from rural Ohio arrive in the big city. Letitia Haubstadt and Cordelia Grey are ready to leave behind the only lives they’ve known in search of new glamorous ones. Letitia, dreaming of making it big on Broadway, reinvents herself as Letty Larkspur. Cordelia is searching for her long-lost father, who just happens to be millionaire bootlegger, Darius Grey. Parting ways, the girls follow their own paths towards the inevitable lure of flappers and philosophers, speakeasies and the stage. Cordelia is immediately welcomed at Dogwood, her father’s estate. Here she meets her half-brother Charlie and is befriended by his stunningly beautiful socialite girlfriend, Astrid Donal. Exemplifying this luxurious lifestyle, Astrid takes Cordelia under her wing as she learns to navigate life as a wealthy criminal’s daughter.

But all that glitters is not gold. Letty soon learns it takes more than talent to make it as a singer. Cordelia becomes enamored with the son of her father’s rival. And Astrid’s home life is far from charmed. The three girls soon realize there’s more to life than champagne and the Charleston.

The author of The Luxe series is back with the first installment in what promises to be another enthralling series set in yesterday’s New York City. Reminiscent of F. Scott Fitzgerald with a hint of Gossip Girl, Godbersen captures the carefree excess of New York in the roaring twenties.  Look for other titles in the Bright Young Things series.