Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Suicide Notes

Michael Thomas Ford, October 2008. Jeff wakes up to find he's in a psych ward with bandages on his wrists, but refuses to believe he belongs there. He's committed for forty-five days, but for most of it, he refuses to reveal why he hurt himself in the first place. And about halfway through, he gives in to the sexual advances of a patient named Rankin - and likes it. Jeff's psychiatrist is convinced he tried to kill himself because his best friend Allie began dating a boy named Brent. This is true, but not in quite the way the doctor had in mind. Jeff was in love with Brent, and Allie can't forgive him for not being honest with her about his sexuality.

This gripping, suspenseful book is probably not for your youngest teens, depending on their life experience; the sex scenes are appropriately graphic, as we experience them from inside Jeff's head, and suicide is, of course, a major theme. Highly recommended for readers who can handle it, and for all public libraries.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Big Guy

Robin Stevenson, March 2008. This 106-page novel from Orca Soundings, an imprint for high interest/low level books for teens, is packed with issues. Derek's mom has abandoned the family; his homophobic father doesn't know he's gay; he's dropped out of high school; he's gained eighty pounds in the past year and his online boyfriend doesn't know it; and he's not sure how he feels about his job as a home health aide for Aaliyah, a defensive young woman in a wheelchair. Despite this smorgasbord of problems, the story resolves neatly without being cheesy. Derek's dad turns out to have a human side (barely); his boyfriend doesn't mind that he's fat; and he learns Valuable Lessons from Aaliyah. Recommended where other Orca titles are popular as well as in outreach settings.