Saturday, June 9, 2012

How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford

Bea attends a new school and befriends the biggest social outcast.  Together they develop a close platonic friendship because they both feel so different from everybody else. 

How to Say Goodbye in Robot has a satisfying, quirky plot that keeps readers interested.  Plot elements such as loyal listening to a late night radio show, agonizing over decisions regarding a close family member with severe  disabilities, intentionally befriending social outcasts, and attending bizarre theme parties full of strangers were appealing in unexpected ways.  Pink pages at the beginning of each chapter contributed to the freshness of this novel.  One theme of the book is "understanding what to do if one's emotional responses to situations are not socially appropriate."

What Comes After by Steve Watkins

What Comes After is the story of a young lady who's life takes her down a sad, tragic road.  Forced to live with an abusive aunt and cousin, she was transplanted far from the home she's always known while her best friendship dissapated and her support network is removed.  The best thing she has going for her is a herd of goats whom her aunt compels her to care for, milk twice daily, and make cheese to sell.  As her situation continues to deteriorate Iris must find her way out tragedy into a better life, while maintaining loyalty to those who have been there for her in her times of need. 

This story was heart wrenching, and the details of the plot stayed vivid in my memory.  It was easy to feel the paralysis the abuse and its aftermath explained very realistically within the story.  Iris, the main character is easy to love even as she makes less than ideal choices and decides loyalties.  Her strength is beyond admirable.  It would be interesting to hold a book discussion about key decisions Iris makes that includes teens, social workers, and abuse survivors.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Forgotten by Cat Patrick

Ever since a traumatic event years ago, London Lane life experiences life differently than the rest of us...  Instead of remembering days gone by, as most people do, she only remembers today and days in the future.  Each night, before bed she writes herself reminder notes to read in the morning so as to appear normal to everyone who doesn't know her unique secret.  Things get complicated when she starts to fall in love.

Cat Patrick did an outstanding job of making this bizarre premise believable and highly engaging.  I found myself sucked into the plot, feeling as though I belonged in London's outsider world as she went to great lengths to successfully navigate typical teenage experiences through an atypical lens.  The characters are highly believable and it is easy as a reader to believe one's self in going to great lengths to hide a strange secret, as London must do.  This novel illustrates inner conflict beween social acceptance and maintaining personal integrity.  After reading this novel, which is Cat Patrick's first book, I was anxious to get my hands on more by this outstanding emerging author.


Books I enjoyed include:
Patrick, Cat. Forgotten.
McBride, James.  The Color of Water.
Pena, Matt de la.  I Will Save You.
Debeurme, Ludovic.  Lucille.


 Lessons learned:

Don't talk to others about my personal life at work.  Remember to focus on my own tasks.  Understand the most important aspects of public library work and focus on upholding those ideals.

It is important not to step on other people's toes when trying to carve my own niche.  My enthusiasm to encourage high standards and excellent service can easily be misinterpreted as threatening to my peers also striving to carve niches.  I have been warned that if I step on the wrong toes I might suffer consequences that I may not have anticipated.  At the same time I have administration offering to meet with me and collect my observations regarding branches or branch staff whenever I am interested in doing so.  I am not interested in stepping on other people to claw my way into a position.  I would rather be offered work based on my merits, interests and needs.  Now is not an appropriate time for my unsolicited critiques.