The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene

The Fault in Our Stars by John Greene (Dutton Books, 2014) is both an existential novel about the meaningless of life as well as an sensitive exploration of the importance of friendship in the midst of the seemingly meaningless.

Hazel is a 16-year-old girl with cancer, miraculously kept alive by a “miracle” drug that could stop working at any time for her. Stuck at home for years, Hazel has learned to distance herself from many relationships and friends, all the while reading her favorite books, studying hard, and taking courses at the local college. She is content, but as she has pointed out, a side-affect of cancer is often depression, so she has her moments.Continue Reading

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake

Sometimes a clever and intriguing story line makes a novel great. Sometimes, it is the interaction of a number of interesting characters. And other times, a novel is great because because of the carefully developed setting that gives life to the situations and characters. In One Came Home (January 2013, Knopf Books for Young Readers), Amy Timberlake manages to win in all three ways. Continue Reading

The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Patterson


The Great Gilly Hopkins is not an easy book to read. Gilly is a child in a difficult situation. She is a child without a family, moved through the foster care system. She does not make it easy for her foster parents, because she believes that her mother loves her and needs her. She dreams of the happy reunion with her mother, who she has not seen for at least 8 years.

Paterson has a way of writing tear-jerker novels that deal with difficult issues that children face. This book is no exception. It takes a talented writer to capture a difficult, cranky kid in a frustration situation and somehow still manage to make her someone we want to root for. Paterson does that in this book.Continue Reading

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate


In The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (HarperCollins, 2012), a mall circus gorilla, Ivan, comes to view his life in captivity differently when a baby elephant, recently kidnapped from her home in Africa, joins the mall circus. With a poignant and distinct voice, The One and Only Ivan was a book that touched me deeply, and I cried with Ivan as I longed for a happy ending! Ivan is about friendship, hope, and forgiveness. In so many ways, Ivan is well deserving of its 2013 Newbery Award.

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