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Erin Jade Lange
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The Children and the Wolves

The Children and the Wolves - Adam Rapp This is one of the few books that had me cringing in public--realizing it and still not being able to stop. In a very good way.

It's really amazing to see how much Rapp can do with such few words, and I am so impressed with how he shows everything--the hurt, the abuse, the way these kids are so fucked up most of the time they don't even realize they're fucked up--without telling a single thing. Incredibly powerful story, as are all of Rapp's books.

The Symptoms of My Insanity

The Symptoms of My Insanity - Mindy Raf Very accurate depiction of the confusion and terror and joy that teenage girls go through when it comes to sex.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock - Matthew Quick Beautiful story that portrays how important humans are to each other, how the smallest of actions matters. Leonard is an incredible boy with a heartbreaking, honest, sincere mind. Loved it.

The Sky Always Hears Me: And the Hills Don't Mind

The Sky Always Hears Me: And the Hills Don't Mind - Kirstin Cronn-Mills Morgan is such a vivid, vivid character. Incredibly real voice, incredibly authentic. A lovely story that highlights the bigness in all life's small moments. Wonderful.

Theories of Relativity

Theories of Relativity - Barbara Haworth-Attard Really great male voice. Very vivid and believable story. I especially loved how real each and every character felt and how Haworth-Attard used so few words to create such powerful moments and scenes that made me physically ache for the characters. Wonderful.

Freeze Frame

Freeze Frame - Heidi Ayarbe Wonderful story about grief and loss and overcoming your past. Very convincing teen male voice.

Broken Soup

Broken Soup - Jenny Valentine This book surprised me. It was a lot better than I had anticipated; the writing style was very distinct, and although seemingly simple, there was a poetic note running throughout the whole story, so subtle you could miss it if you weren't paying close attention.

The story is about life and love and acceptance and grief and strength, and so many other things. The characters are real and flawed, but that makes you like them all the more. Finishing the book, the reader is left with a sweet aftertaste, and I definitely did not regret reading this.

The Piper's Son

The Piper's Son - Melina Marchetta This book takes place five years after Saving Francesca. Only this time, the main character is Tom. I really liked Tom in Saving Francesca, but being in his head this time around does not compete. He is a very real, hurt, fallible human, and I think this is one of the areas Marchetta excels in. She has this gripping way of depicting humans and their flaws and strengths, and the realness of the characters is beautiful to experience. Her writing is spare, never too much, and yet it is so evocative. So evocative.

Family and friendship are two qualities that play the biggest role in this book. And they are depicted wonderfully. The love, pain, humor, tolerance, acceptance, annoyance--all the nuances are shown and splayed out in such a thoroughly enjoyable manner. They sweep you in and leave you breathless, make you feel like this is happening to you and not to someone else.

And the frienship between these people, between Francesca and Tara and Sobhain and Justine and Tom and Will and even Jimmy (though he didn't appear in this book save for references from the others), the love and care between them and the way the girls looked after the boys, the way the boys would put up a lot of fuss and talk a lot of smack (as the Aussies would put it, I think) but in the end were completely powerless to the girls and would do anything to please them, the humor and threats on telling on the boys to the rest of the girls . . . every aspect of their friendship was such a wonderful and delicate and strong and valuable thing, and I absolutely fell in love with them all for this. I really hope to read more about them in the future. I care about these characters like I rarely do, and my hat goes off to Melina Marchetta's for her wonderful talent.

Growing up and forgiveness and understanding are also beautifully depicted. Tom is in a lot of pain and carries a lot of anger, and the amazing thing about Marchetta is that she tells the story of his growth and change in SUCH A REAL WAY, you can't help but think this isn't fiction. I think it take a very talented writer to create characters that feel so REAL and true like that, and I admire her for that ability.

The only thing that at times confused me was the large number of family members in the story, and I had to stop time and time again to figure out who I was reading about. But this does not take much away from the beautiful, truly human story that is The Piper's Son.

Saving Francesca

Saving Francesca - Melina Marchetta This book really surprised me. The writing was simple, sparse, and very easy to follow, but it was littered with all these wonderful gems that just put a smile on my face. What I loved most of all about was the humanity in it; every character is real and distinct, and so wonderfully different. I loved how well boys were depicted here--their immaturity and love for fart jokes really made them come to life. I enjoyed how the author didn't shy away from portraying teenage boys as they really are, instead of presenting these stereotypical brooding bad-boys or whatever.
Another thing I really enjoyed about this book was how a lot of first impressions were altered. Francesca's initial critical and presumptuous view on the people she spent time with and the ones she later on got to know, the way it was all altered and the natural way in which her opinion of people shifted was such an enjoyable thing to read. The reader gets to discover her friends right alongside her, and their beautiful human-ness made me smile.
The writing is sparse and relies a lot on dialogue, but this isn't a problem. I think it added to the story, even providing some laugh-out-loud moments. I loved the honesty and strength in Francesca, and especially the fact that she isn't your typical, damsel-in-distress main character, waiting for the guy to save her. She is a strong, individual, real person, with her own weaknesses and fears and faults, and she felt very, very alive to me. I absolutely enjoyed being in her head.

The only thing knocking off a star from my rating was the fact that sometimes the characters were a bit too perfect, and some things were resolved too quickly. But other than that this story surprised me, exceeded my expectations and left a smile on my face--which is a great thing, in my book.