The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars (J)

The Summer of the Swans

Betsy Byars (Juvenile Fiction)

Fourteen-year old Sara Godfrey is having the worst summer of her life.  She hates her orange sneakers, she has the biggest feet in school, and don’t even mention her nose.  “I just feel like nothing,” she tells her sister.  But all that changes when her ten-year old brother, Charlie, goes missing.  Suddenly, Sara realizes what is truly important and what really matters.

Sara not only struggles with her own adolescent issues, but is dealing with an absentee father, meddling aunt, and a brother suffering from a mental impairment.  Byars accurately captures and conveys the angst, anger, and anxiety that most teens endure and provides readers with a realistic sense of Sara’s desperate desire to fit in, to be liked, and to be accepted.  More than just a coming-of-age book, The Summer of the Swans also provides an insight into Charlie’s mind and reveals his own desire for stability and security.  Byars shows us how love requires no words and perhaps is more accurately spoken not through the mouth, but by the heart.

Rating: 4/5

Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Little Bee

Chris Cleave (Adult Fiction)

This review will be a deviation from my standard format in order to respect the wishes of the book’s author…and with good reason.

Little Bee is the ONLY book that I’ve ever seen that has a note on the back cover stating, “We don’t want to tell you what happens in this book.”  Whether a brilliant marketing ploy or a genuine desire to thoroughly surprise its reader, it works.  It’s an irresistible hook.

What I will share is that Little Bee tells the story of two very different women from two very different socioeconomic backgrounds whose worlds unexpectedly collide and an unimaginable (and truly shocking) choice is made.  Two years later they meet again, and this is where the story begins.

Honestly, the less said about this book, the more you will savor it.  It will evoke every possible emotion and will leave you breathless and spellbound.  The storytelling is first rate and the characters will leave an indelible mark on your heart.  I promise you will enjoy (perhaps even love) this book and if you do, I hope you will NOT tell your friends about it…only share the title.

Rating: 5/5

Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan (YA)

Tween & Teen Tuesday

Every Tuesday, we review either a juvenile (J) or young adult (YA) book

Homeless Bird

Homeless Bird (YA)

Gloria Whelan

Thirteen-year old Koly is arranged to be married and must leave everything and everyone she loves behind.  When fate intervenes, she finds herself alone in a strange city.  Her favorite poem tells about a flock of birds that fly day and night, except the homeless bird. It always flies to somewhere else.  With no money and no hope for the future, where does this homeless bird fly now?

Written in the first-person narrative, Homeless Bird gives us a story of courage, hope, determination, and love.  In Koly’s own words, the reader experiences and feels firsthand her sense of loss, betrayal, heartache, and despair.  Whelan’s love for Koly shows through her compassionate writing and wonderful storytelling.  In the end, she gives us a heroine that not only flies, she soars.

Rating: 5/5