Sunday, April 16, 2017

TGBC Outlier!: Sticks and Stones

Title: Sticks and Stones
Author: Abby Cooper
Status: New Read

How did I acquire it?
This was a gift from my boss at Christmas

How long have I owned it without reading it?
About four months

Thoughts?
This is one of the titles for my middle school book group this month. I liked a lot about it. Elyse, the main character, has a disorder where the words people use to describe her show up on her skin. Good words feel good; bad ones itch. As she gets older and gets into middle school, the words get more and more negative, especially as she puts herself into the spotlight at school. Eventually, the words she uses when she thinks about herself also show up on her skin.

I liked this book for what it is -- a middle-school-aged allegory about self esteem. I think it tackles that issue in a really unique and effective way for that age group. For me though, the metaphor got a bit heavy-handed at times. Nevertheless, I liked the touch that Elyse was as affected by what she thought of herself as she was by what other people thought of her. And I liked the conclusion she eventually comes to -- that what other people think of her might make her uncomfortable at times, but their opinions only define her if she lets them.

Overall, this is an effective book, and I'm excited to hear what my students thought of it.

Status after reading:
I'm gonna hang onto this one for a bit, I think.

Numbers: 
Books in the project: 451
Books tackled so far: 60
Books still unread: 76
Books giving away: 33

TGBC: Teen Lit Rocks Title: This Is My Brain On Boys

Title: This Is My Brain On Boys
Author: Sarah Strohmeyer
Status: New read

How did I acquire it?
This is a Teen Lit Rocks ARC.

How long have I owned it without reading it?
Started reading this one the day after I got it, actually.

Thoughts?

While I was reading this one, I couldn't decide how I felt about it. I needed a few days after to ruminate and come to the conclusion that I like it.

Addie Emerson doesn't believe in love. She believes in the chemicals that create feelings of love, and she believes that those chemicals alter a person's thoughts and actions and brain chemistry, but that's not the same thing as believing in love. Especially when Addie has a theory that "love" can be induced by manipulating circumstances to ensure that a person's brain puts out the chemicals that create feelings of love.

What I liked most about this novel was the complexity of the main character, Addie. Addie is very clearly autistic (if you are at all familiar with autism), but this isn't a story about autism. It's a story about a very analytical and driven young woman succeeding in a scientific endeavor. Addie is not portrayed the way that autistic individuals are typically portrayed in media. She has friends (yes, plural -- she has more than one), she's not painted as an outcast, and no one tries to change or fix her. She is written like an actual, real person, not as a token representation of autism, and I really appreciated that.

I also liked the turning-on-the-head of the trope where a scientifically-minded person who "doesn't believe in love" falls in love and learns the error of their ways. I love that the twist we see with Addie is in the nuances. She believes in the chemicals and endorphins, and she recognizes that the chemicals and endorphins typically associated with love make you feel good, and that's both fine and desirable.

And I like the other issues this book touches on -- second chances, the transition from high school to college, escaping toxic friendships and relationships. Overall, I thought this was a well-written book. It's a fairly predictable story, and the "twist" was not particularly surprising to me. I also wish that the book came out and said that Addie is autistic rather than leaving it to be intuited. But overall, I'd be interested to see what other people thought of it.

Status After Reading: 
I'm gonna keep this on my shelf for now mostly because I want to loan it to some people and see what they think.

Numbers:
Books in the project: 451
Books tackled so far: 60
Books still unread: 76
Books giving away: 34