Tag Archives: Zondervan

Boyfriends, Burritos and an Ocean of Trouble

20 May

Boyfriends, Burritos and an Ocean of TroubleNancy Rue

Publisher: Zondervan

Publication Date: 2010

Paperback: 219 pages

Book Blurb:

Secrets? Bryn O’Connor is good at keeping secrets. But when a car accident reveals her boyfriend’s abusive behavior, the truth is unleashed. And it starts a tidal wave of trouble in Bryn’s life: enemies who were once friends, a restraining order violation, and her world unraveled. If that weren’t enough, her grandmother Mim arrives, attempting Mexican cuisine and insisting that Bryn try surfing. It’s all too much! Even Bryn’s habit of daydreaming won’t offer an escape this time. But could a mysterious book she found hold the secret to riding a tsunami like her life?

Stand alone or series: It’s kind of both. This is book two in the Real Life series, however the novels follow the Real Life book (a mystical, physical book within the novel) instead of the girls. At the end of each novel the book is passed on to someone new and they are the person we see featured in the next book.

Why I read this book: I bought the rest of the series before I finished the first book because I really liked the characters, the writing style, and the problems she faced. I didn’t realize until I read the book two excerpt that it would be an entirely new set of characters and problems. The thought of reading about an abusive boyfriend made my stomach turn, but I’d bought it so I figured I should read it. I’m glad I did.

Review:

Bryn’s been covering for Preston—high school hunk, senior, and Olympic swim candidate—for weeks. But that ends the night of the crash. When nurses first discover the bruises Bryn swears she won’t tell, until they accuse her father. Then she lets the world know about her boyfriend’s possessive, controlling behavior and her world comes crashing down.

Suddenly, she’s the victim to her father, sister, the cops and doctors—an object to be pitied and treated like glass. To the rest of the school, controlled by Preston and his friends, she’s the liar and she must be broken at all costs. The only person who treats her like the beautiful, strong woman she is, is Mim—and Bryn does not trust her surf-school instructor grandmother.

While threats are flowing and the trial date is looming, Mim teaches Bryn to surf. At first the waves buffet and bully her just as her former friends are doing, then Bryn learns to ride and finds that maybe, with a little help from God, she can ride the waves in her life too.

I loved the twists and turns in this book. My heart broke for her, but that makes the satisfaction when she finds her strength all the sweeter. Mental and physical abuse from boyfriends and partners is a growing concern. I know I once was unable to understand how someone could let that happen, until it happened to someone close to me. This girl was smart, beautiful, incredible. And at first their relationship was all butterflies and roses. Then small problems began, forgivable issues because she loved him, she told herself. By the time the physical abuse started she was so deep into his way of thinking that she honestly believed she’d done something wrong, that she’d done something to deserve it. Bryn is much like my friend, she could be much like your friend or your daughter or you. What I love about this book is that it helps the reader to understand how to see the signs and how to recover. And it helps you find empathy for those who have gone through this terrible experience.

I’ve found the Real Life books to be educational about common issues facing teens as well as entertaining. This book is not only to be read if you or someone you know has suffered abuse. This book is for all girls. It is a story of strength and hope and love, inspirational to all.

Motorcycles, Sushi and One Strange Book

25 Mar

Motorcycles, Sushi, and One Strange BookNancy Rue

Publisher: Zondervan

Publication Date: 2010

Paperback: 221 pages

Book Blurb:

Normal? While family dinners and vacations to touristy destinations are ordinary events for her ‘normal’ friends, fifteen-year-old Jessie Hatcher’s normal life means dealing with her ADHD and her mother’s bipolar disorder. So why is Jessie shocked when the unexpected happens? Now her ‘normal’ includes living in Florida with the father she always thought was dead and learning the secrets of sushi from a man who teaches by tormenting her. Life isn’t any saner with her dad, but a cute guy and a mysterious book might just be the crazy Jessie needs.

Stand alone or series: It’s kind of both. This is book one in the Real Life series, however the novels follow the Real Life book (a mystical, physical book within the novel) instead of the girls. At the end of each novel the book is passed on to someone new and they are the person we see featured in the next book.

Why I read this book: I am interested in teen novels dealing with real-life issues. I’ve found many novels that gloss over the difficult parts and I’m always interested when a novel tackles those issues head-on.

Review:

Jessie’s life is messed up and she doesn’t even know it. To Jess her mom’s In-Bed Phases, where she doesn’t stir from her darken room for days or weeks, and her No-Bed Phases, where she cleans the house with a toothbrush and designs shoes, are normal. Her friends think her hyperactive flip-outs and bouts of wild behavior are funny and that’s why they keep her around. To make matters worse, her father shows up—the father she thought was dead since her birth.

Lou, missing father, walks in to a situation he couldn’t have imagined. When bad goes to worse, he takes Jess home with him to Florida. Her biggest fear is that her father will discover her “disorder”, as her ADHD has been referred to her whole life.

The writing was impressive. Rue writes the first few chapters so deep into Jess’s head that I felt ADHD as I read them. I started to fidget, my thoughts and speech became more disconnected. I was going up the wall. Yet Rue knew just when to cool it down. Right before I was about to throw the book at the wall to stop the insanity, she pulled back to focus more on the story than the style. It was a perfect maneuver and I was hooked—I had a lot of sympathy for the poor girl.

Yet Rue does not make Jess out to be a “poor girl.” That’s what I love about the Real Life series. Jess begins in a horrible situation in which she has no control. Then with the help of God, and a stabilizing adult figure, she takes control of her life. She stops surviving and starts to thrive.

This was a great book. (Don’t read it during finals when you need to concentrate thought.) I would recommend this book to all teens, though it is largely geared towards girls. I would also suggest this book to parents. I’m still closer to the teen side, than to being a parent of a teen, but I thought the parenting style of the dad was pretty cool. I enjoyed watching the way he handled a number of situations. Again, don’t start this book when you need to concentrate, but you should definitely start… and finish it.