Friday, August 25, 2023

Shadow of the West by


Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source: I won a copy from LibraryThing. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Books about the Cold War have been my favorite for years. Very little is written about it for teens. They know almost nothing. I jumped at the chance to read this book so I could get it into the hands of my students. We have Kate who is. and American. As the daughter of a diplomat she moves a lot. This time they are in West Berlin. She meets Amy, whose father is a diplomat stationed on the east side of Berlin. Amy spends a lot of time at Kate’s house.  Kate goes to visit Amy and meets Michael. Michael and his sister are barely surviving on the east side. Of course Kate and Michael meet. This is dangerous for Michael and his sister as the Stasi watch everything.

I enjoyed this book because the author is the daughter of a diplomat who had similar experiences to that of Kate.  I enjoyed this also because I worked with two teachers and taught their daughter. They would tell me stories of living in embassies around the world, especially Russia.  Their daughter at times was clueless as to how things actually worked in those countries because they were sheltered from a lot of the things people in those country went through, all because they were a diplomat’s child.  I highly recommend this book. I believe it should be on every high school shelf.   I won a copy from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer Giveaway.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby


Genre:  Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Source:  I purchased a copy

I love reading books set in the time period of WWII.  Then you add in a young girl named Frankie and a ghost named Pearl, whose stories alternate and you have the setup for a great book. The thing that really sets this book apart from so many other of this time period is the difference between the treatment of males and females.  There are so many things a female is expected to do just because of her gender. Yet we have a story here to show how strong the female can be and how they rise above the expectations for the time period. We also look at the difference in treatment between those who have money and those who do not.

Frankie is living in an orphanage. The story takes place in America. This surprised me because I figured as a World War 2 book it would have taken place in Europe. However, this was a refreshing detail. Frankie, her sister and brother all live in an orphanage because their mother is dead and their father can’t afford to take care of them.  I got angry at the fact that their father meets another woman, whose children are also in the orphanage, and they get married. The marriage wasn’t the issue. It was the fact their father was moving out west and taking his new wife and her children and their brother with them. The only reason the brother went was because he had aged out of the orphanage. Another unique aspect of this orphanage was the way they separated the boys and girls. Girls were required to take care of the dinner dishes from the boy’s side, but not allowed to talk or acknowledge them without repercussions.  Some of the nuns came across as just looney or sadistic.  The storyline is engaging and kept me reading.  A bonus for me was learning that this is based on the true life story of the author’s Mother-in law.  A strange book, yet engaging. I will say it was difficult in the very beginning to keep the two perspectives straight. If you stick with it, which I say you should, you will soon find yourself so invested you can’t stop reading it.  So glad to have read and recommend this book.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Sketching Rebellion by Felicia Ketcheson

Genre:  Young Adult, Dystopian
Source: I won a copy from LibraryThing. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Wow! As I read this book I was thinking, this has an undercurrent of "The Hunger Games." then I thought about the society in the book "The Giver."  There were so many things going on that you have to keep reading. Think about a society where everyone works for the good of all. That is everyone except the President. His biggest job is being present and pumping people up for an execution that everyone is required to attend. While he stands in front of them he tears down the person for their crime which can range from saying something against the government, or drawing a picture, which is illegal. All creativity is illegal. He claims it benefits the individual and not the society so they are being selfish. He pumps up the crowd the way cheerleaders would before a game. All the while he stands safely behind a wall of glass. He even has the are you watch from broken into sections; bronze, silver, and platinum.  All relatives of the crimanal and those who have higher positions in the society stand in the platinum section. Age is no issue. You can be executed even if you are a child as young as seven.  But the president's plans don't go as expected. A rebellion has formed. It is made up of people who have just disappeared. They have been waiting for just the right moment and for two teens who are the key to their plan working. As I read about Creel, one of the main characters, I felt sorry for her. She is smart, intelligent and loves to draw. Unfortunately, people are asked to turn those in who break the law, such as drawing. Creel has had her second warning and promises not to draw anymore because if she is caught the consequence will be mortae (death).  

As I read this book I could not help but see the Stasi who were responsible for getting people to spy on each other, including family members, in East Germany during the Cold War.  I didn't expect the ending that I read. It did tie things up nicely and left you hungering for a sequel. I have learned one is expected in the Spring of 2024.  I can't wait.  

Every year I challenge my students to read from eleven different genres. They are to attempt to read a minimum of eleven books. They must write their goal down and give it to me to chart. In turn my students set my reading goal.  This was the first book out of 83 they have set for me to read.  Definitley a great book to start my challenge.