All tagged Julie Taylor

Review: The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen

Sarah Dessen is one of those authors whose books I know I will like before I've read the summary. Just the Dessen name on the cover tells me that I'm in for a good read full of authentic, relatable experiences that are never overwrought or dramatic. 

Dessen's latest, The Moon and More, offers exactly that, but with a bit of a fresh flavor, since it heads in a different direction than her books typically do.  Despite what the back cover summary may indicate, this is less a summer romance, and more of an introspective journey.

The Moon and More is narrated in first-person by Emaline, who lives in Colby, the fictional North Carolina town that will be familiar to long-time Dessen readers (it's based on Emerald Isle, N.C.). It's the summer before college and despite getting into Columbia, she's headed to a nearby state school, thanks to a full scholarship. She's headed there with longtime boyfriend Luke, who's a fun, crazy about Emaline, fun and comfortable. She helps her mom, dad, grandmother and half sisters run the family's summer home rental business and has a good life in her small town. 

Then she meets Theo, who's spending the summer in Colby working on a documentary about a highly-regarded artist from the town. He has big dreams and believes Emaline's been thinking too small regarding her future. Her biological father too thinks that Emaline should be thinking bigger, and lets her know so when he arrives in Colby with her young half brother in tow. 

There's a difference between the words father and dad.

Today in Ridiculous B.S.: "The Julie Taylor Test"

Today, Laura tweeted a post from Salon's entertainment section, to which I reacted quite viscerally.

This (somewhat link-bait-y) piece is called "The Julie Taylor Test," referencing the daughter fo Eric and Tami Taylor on Friday Night Lights, and it's absolutely dripping with sexism. The author, Willa Paskin, asserts that bad acting can be identified by comparing the performer suspected of bad acting to Julie Taylor on Friday Night Lights, portrayed by Aimee Teegarden.

She argues, 

Enter the Julie Taylor Test, an easy way to identify bad TV acting: Ask yourself, is it  to imagine the inner life of this character? If no, is it possible to imagine the inner life of the characters surrounding him or her? It was all too possible to imagine the inner lives of every character on “Friday Night Lights” but Julie.

The thing is, using Paskin's own example, Julie Taylor has an immense inner life (watch The Giving Tree, S3E10, if you don't believe me).

However, her "inner life" is that of a teenage girl, so there are two strikes against Julie the character and Aimee the actress.

Review: The Raft by S.A. Bodeen

I am desperately seeking a kick-ass survival book. If I hear that a book involves lifeboats and/or being marooned on a island, I am all over it.

As a result, I had high hopes for S.A. Bodeen’s young adult survival novel, The Raft. 

Unfortunately, like the other survival story I read this year, The Lifeboat, The Raft didn’t live up to my (very high) expectations. With that said, I think there’s an audience that will enjoy this lost-at-sea, Hatchet-style novel.

Robie is a 15-year old with an unusual life. Her parents are researchers and she lives on Midway Island. She frequently hops a ride on the cargo plane between Midway and Honolulu, where her aunt lives and has a measure of independence that’s unusual for someone so young. It’s on one of these trips to visit her aunt that she leaves suddenly, following a frightening encounter with a stranger on the street. Because the phone lines are down and her aunt is out of town, no one knows that Robie’s headed back to Midway.

On the flight back, the plane experiences engine trouble and crashes into the sea. The co-pilot she’s never met before, Max, tosses her a life vest and deploys the plane’s lifeboat. Suddenly she and Max are alone in in the boat, adrift at sea. They have no water. They have no food (except a single bag of Skittles). There are sharks. It’s cold, it’s miserable and their only hope is that someone finds the raft—and soon.

Alone with the stinging of my scalp. Alone with the pain in my chest. Alone with the rain on my face. Alone with my freezing wet clothes, clammy dead weight against my skin. My breathing slowed. Alone with the truth…

{Review} My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Think about how it looks, Samantha. Not just how it feels. Make smart choices. Always consider consequences.

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

Huntley Fitzpatrick’s debut novel, My Life Next Door, has been reviewed quite a bit, so I wasn’t planning on contributing my thoughts on this novel. 

However, while this wasn’t a perfect read for me, there were elements that stuck out to me as “doing it right” where a lot of other contemporary young adult fiction falters.

Samantha’s mother is an up-and-coming state senator in Connecticut. She’s got a bit of a Sarah Palin thing going on, with high fashion, a youthful appearance, marketable rhetoric and daughters that fit her political image perfectly. Her mother is very concerned about appearances, and maintains a perfect house, which stands in stark contrast to the chaotic family of ten next door, the Garretts

Samantha spends years fascinated by the Garrett family, with their roudy warmth that’s so different from her own family. Naturally, like all boy next door novels, Samantha meets one of the neighbor boys, Jase. (They don’t go to school together as the Garrett children attend public school and Samantha attends a private school.) And, since her mother’s busy campaigning, Samantha’s able to spend time with Jase without her mother knowing. The two sit on Samantha’s roof (yes, I am a sucker for roof-sitting, which is probably the biggest downside of owning a ranch house—roof sitting is really difficult), hang with Jase’s siblings and develop a relatively quick connection. 

“You have to kiss me,” I find myself saying.
“Yeah.” He leans closer. “I do.” 

This is where I really began to enjoy My Life Next Door: I didn’t have to wait all novel long for the main characters to get together. 

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCourWhen we are young, we are whimsical dreamers.

Our parents and the adults in our lives encourage this fanciful mindset. They tell us that with hard work, we CAN INDEED be elected President of the USA, possibly even without winning the overall popular vote. We WILL INDEED see our favorite football team win the Super Bowl in our lifetime, since there’s no way they could possibly lose 4 years in a row.

But as we get older, we are encouraged to break up with our dreams in favor of “attainable goals”. Instead of President, what about Mayor’s administrative assistant? Instead of a Super Bowl win, how’s about rooting for a playoff berth? Scratch that. How’s about rooting for a .500 season? And so on.

About the same time we begin to realize that all the smizing practice in the world won’t make us skinny or tall enough to fulfill our dream of competing on America’s Next Top Model, we realize that we have to figure out what to do with ourselves with our limited 5’2” frames, we have no idea what that should be, and the combination scares us shitless, though we are loathe to admit as such.


The Stages of Upper Middle Class Adolescence

Unbreak My Heart by Melissa C. Walker

Melissa Walker’s new novel had an uphill battle with me.

You see, it managed to remind me of The Worst Earworm Ever. During my sophomore year of Professional Nerding School (aka college at American University), Toni Braxton’s Un-Break My Heart was everywhere I turned. I’d hear it playing on MTV in the dorm lounge, on the radio in the cafeteria, blasting on “boomboxes” (yep, we still had those in the nineties)… everywhere.

Toni’s soulful crooning* drove me nuts for months on end. 

However, don’t let this book fool you like it did me. 

Unbreak My Heart is a charming, heartfelt read about friendship, family, first love and second chances. 

The Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly BackesEvery now and then, a young adult book reminds me that I am not the target audience for YA authors.

The Princesses of Iowa is one of those books.

However, for the target audience of teen girls and their parents (you know, the people who pay for the books that their teenage daughters read), I’d say that The Princesses of Iowa is the perfect book. Except for ONE MAJOR ISSUE that I address at the end of this review for the sake of emphasis.

I say that because while the book has a lot teenagers can relate to in a non-sugarcoated way, it’s still a message book that parents will like. It’s full of lessons about tolerance, the dangers of drunk driving and the virtues of being yourself, even if you don’t know quite what that is yet.

(If you think that all of these valuable lessons crammed into one book sounds like a long book, you’d be right, as The Princesses of Iowa clocks in at a hefty-for-YA 441 pages.)