Southbury Teen Review Blog

Books, music, movies, and more!

Memorial Day Reads May 27, 2014

This Monday, May 27th we honored those that gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.  In keeping with the patriotic theme, here are some titles that highlight the sacrifice of service, past and future.

Torn by David Massey

“Witnesses to a mystery on the battlefield, a British medic and an American Navy SEAL confront Afghanistan’s fog of war.

In war-torn Afghanistan, a girl walks right into a hail of bullets: Elinor watches it with her own eyes. The young British army medic risks the line of fire to rescue her, only to realize the girl is gone. 

To find the missing, mysterious child, Elinor enlists the help of an American Navy SEAL. But in all the confusion, with coalition troops fighting every day to maintain a fragile peace, does Ben have something to hide? 

Elinor came to Afghanistan with the hope of changing hearts and minds: What she’s about to discover will make her question everything she ever believed about love and war.

A war thriller. A cross-cultural love story with an undercurrent of magic realism. A powerful debut set in modern-day, battle-scarred Afghanistan. This is TORN.”

Vietnam Book 1:  I Pledge Allegiance by Chris Lynch

Four best friends. Four ways to serve their country.

Morris, Rudi, Ivan, and Beck are best friends for life. So when one of the teens is drafted into the Vietnam War, the others sign up, too. Although they each serve in a different branch, they are fighting the war together–and they pledge to do all they can to come home together.

Haunted by dreams of violence and death, Morris makes it his personal mission to watch over his friends–and the best place to do that is in the US Navy. Stationed off the coast of Vietnam on the USS Boston, Morris and his fellow sailors provide crucial support to the troops on the ground.

But the Boston itself isn’t safe from attack. And as Morris finds his courage and resolve tested like never before, he keeps coming back to a single thought.

He made a pledge. He must keep them safe.”

The Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

“A fourth-generation German-American now living in easy circumstances on Cape Cod (and smoking too much), who, as an American infantry scout hors de combat, as a prisoner of war, witnessed the fire-bombing of Dresden, Germany, “The Florence of the Elbe,” a long time ago, and survived to tell the tale. This is a novel somewhat in the telegraphic schizophrenic manner of tales of the planet Tralfamadore, where the flying saucers come from. Peace.

Billy Pilgrim returns home from the Second World War only to be kidnapped by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore, who teach him that time is an eternal present.”

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

“The finest novel of the Civil War, and one of the greatest battle stories ever told

The question of courage enters Henry Fleming’s mind the moment he dons the blue uniform of the Union Army. But his first firefight reveals the emptiness of words such as bravery and fear. Pinned in by his comrades, he can only fire his rifle like a cog in a machine. There is no chance to run.

Then comes the true test. Waking from a nap, Henry sees the enemy advancing once again. Gripped by an unshakable terror, he flees—from his regiment, from duty, from everything he wanted to believe about himself. A corpse bears witness to his shame.

The nightmare has come true. Henry Fleming is a coward. Only one thing can save him now: a visible wound, the red badge of courage. With his regiment’s colors in hand, Henry looks the enemy in the eye—and charges.”

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

“If an entire nation could seek its freedom, why not a girl? 

As the Revolutionary War begins, thirteen-year-old Isabel wages her own fight…for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister, Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her with freedom. “

 

Wintergirls April 22, 2013

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

wintergirls

“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.