Saturday, January 31, 2009


Godbersen, Anna. Envy: A Luxe Novel. The Luxe. New York: HarperCollins, 2009.
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SPOILER ALERT: It is impossible to talk about Envy, let alone give a summary and review, without giving away the end of Rumors. If you haven't finished it yet, enjoy the picture of the cover of Envy, but don't read below it.

In Envy we find out what has become of our favorite characters from The Luxe and Rumors. There are complications as Henry cannot put aside is love of Diana which is definitely causing problems in his marriage, Elizabeth can no longer hide at home to mourn Will, Carolina continues to live the life of an heiress, and Penelope (of course) tries to bend them all to her will. On top of that, they all decide to vacation together in Florida, with about 10 more of their closest friends. How will this all come together for our characters? You must know by now that you will have to wait for the next installment to find out.

Diana, Elizabeth, Penelope and Carolina experience a lot in this latest installment of The Luxe: wealth, dresses, balls, money-grubbing, ambition, destination-vacations, illicit love, more dresses, intrigue, rumors, gossip, and the one thing they won't admit that they have in common, Envy.

Though Godbersen has always shown the consequences of their actions as they were seen in the gossip columns and parlors of 19th century New York, real-life consequences are beginning to surface. Our girls grow a bit older and wiser in Envy, and you can be sure that their days of thoughtless sex, money-grubbing and betrayal are mostly behind them. Elizabeth, Penelope, Diana and Carolina all face very hard decisions and situations in Envy that move beyond the "what will people say" concerns they have faced in the past. The young men of The Luxe are becoming more aware of the world outside of New York and taking readers with them. This series is clearly growing up and growing better. I know that I, like all of Godbersen's other readers, am already counting down the days until Splendor, book four, is published.

hole in my life

Gantos, Jack. Hole in my Life. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002.

[Book cover credit:]

American Library Association Notable Children's Book (2003)
Sibert Honor (2003)
ALA Best Books for Young Adults (2003)
Massachusetts Book Award - Children/Young Adult (2003)
A Horn Book FanFare Best Book (2002)

Jack Gantos started living on his own and making his own decisions, for better or worse, before graduating high school. He lives in his own world of literary splendor, physical squalor, and weed induced fascination/boredom with it all. To make money, Jack takes a job sailing a boat full of marijuana to New York City, where he is caught by federal agents. He recounts his trial, stay in prison, and how both change his lifelong dream to become a writer.
With the mugshot on the front and all they hype about this being a "prison memoir," readers may be a bit mislead. While Gantos does indeed talk about his unique prison experience, that is not the content that makes up the bulk of this book. Because the reader knows that a stint in prison is in store for Gantos, he uses it as the shadow that darkens everything leading up to his capture by federal agents. This leaves the reader feeling that this path was completely inevitable, rather than something that happened to Gantos because of a series of choices he himself made.
With an essentially uplifting ending, Hole in my Life fails to give the reader a true look into Gantos' life experiences or mind. His extended use of literary allusions a wide variety of sources keeps the reader either in the dark or on a goose chase looking for Gantos' meaning in other people's work. The overall effect is that of a watered down version of a story we have all already heard, with a large dose of "if I only knew then" on the side.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Weetzie Bat

Block, Francesca Lia. Weetzie Bat. New York : Harper & Row, 1989.
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ALA Best Books for Young Adults (1990)
ALA Best of the Best Books for Young Adults
ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers
Parents' Choice Gold Award

Francesca Lia Block is also the recipient of the 2005 Margaret A Edwards Award for the books in the Weetzie Bat series, of which this is the first.

Weetzie Bat (real name) is a not quite typical high school student. When she meets Dirk, another not quite typical high school student, they become fast friends riding around in his car, visiting his grandmother, and looking for cute boys. This short novel chronicles their not quite typical Los Angeles young adulthood as they move into a house of their own, fall in love with their respective beaus, and start a family, complete with a couple of indie movie gigs to prove they're really in LA.

There is no space in this little book for exposition. Instead of describing the places and time that Weetzie and co. live in, Block sets the reader down in an LA even the people who live there have only heard about. Anything can and will happen. In the same way, the plot rushes past without hardly any marker of time. What anchors this story is the wonderful characters. Their unique personalities make this book easy to relate to and insure that there is someone in this slim novel for every reader to relate to.

This modern day, boho, so-cal, indie fairytale tells the perpetually happy story of Weetzie and her Secret Agent Lover Man, Dirk and his Duck, and a smattering of other people who come in and out of their fantastic lives. This story is about building a family of friends in the face of differing standards, evolving relationships, births, deaths, AIDS, and often surreal circumstances. Though there are some heady issues being addressed in Weetzie Bat the story remains light and carefree, so channel your inner bohemian and enjoy the read!