Are you an avid reader looking for your next "fix"? Can't bear to be without some form of reading material in your spare time? Welcome to my world! Whether you are seeking a new book to "feed your need", or you are an author seeking an unbiased point of view on your own recent masterpiece, this is the place to be. With life as with books, you never know where the next step might take you...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

And now for something COMPLETELY different....

Why hello there readers!

Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers...a great place to be if you're looking for something new to devour literature wise at least. Before we delve into today's review, I'd like to remind you about the contests currently running on the site as there are a few ends dates FAST approaching.

First, your chance to win a copy of the new children's fiction release The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente ends TOMORROW at midnight....seriously, if you haven't entered yet, you are SO missing out! It was a great read; truly wonderful and meant to be shared. Second, a book perfect for young readers as well as those seeking a little inspiration....Shoot for the Moon! by Corinne Humphrey. Contest ends SATURDAY the 21st so be sure to get your entries in prior to the deadline. Last but not least, we have an eBook contest open INTERNATIONALLY for a copy of Sarah, They're Coming for You by Susan Kronick. This one you still have SOME time on but hey, the earlier you enter, the less likely you are to have one of those "Doh!" moments as the deadline passes you by. So there you have it....three contests, three chances to win. I've done my part, now it's up to you. Moving forward....

I know the reviews have been coming in at unusual times, days, formats ecetera as of late....I totally blame my weird work schedule right now and all the craziness there, but rest assured reading is getting done and reviews will be posted as well. In fact I made a list of those I've read and need to do a post for and yeah...let's just say there is no lack in material. O_O The format of some of the reviews may change just slightly, but I don't think it will take away from the "voice" you've come to know here on the site. Speaking of material, let's get to today's review! The featured title today is something completely different from the norm and not simply because the word "different" is in the title either. It's the chemical makeup of the story in several wonderful ways. Without further adieu, today's book of choice is....

From the publisher's website...

What happens when a girl, homeschooled by her counterculture mother, decides to spend her senior year in public school? First friendship, first love—and first encounters with the complexities of authority and responsibility.

Evie is different. Not just her upbringing-though that's certainly been unusual-but also her mindset. She's smart, independent, confident, opinionated, and ready to take on a new challenge: The Institution of School.

It doesn't take this homeschooled kid long to discover that high school is a whole new world, and not in the way she expected. It's also a social minefield, and Evie finds herself confronting new problems at every turn, failing to follow or even understand the rules, and proposing solutions that aren't welcome or accepted.

Not one to sit idly by, Evie sets out to make changes. Big changes. The movement she starts takes off, but before she realizes what's happening, her plan spirals out of control, forcing her to come to terms with a world she is only just beginning to comprehend.

JJ Johnson's powerful debut novel will enthrall readers as it challenges assumptions about friendship, rules, boundaries, and power.


So, where to begin. When I first saw this book listed in Peachtree Publishing's spring catalog, it gave me pause. Why? Well, the cover first and foremost. You have to admit that's a pretty eye catching piece of artwork there and I just love how "different" is turned upside down....kind of like Evie's world in the coming days. Second giver of pause, the story synopsis. It sounded just "different" enough to be interesting, but what I got once I started on my reading adventure....was a whole lot more. To keep from rambling on (too much at least), I'll address a few points of interest that I felt really stood out....though trust me, the whole story is well worthy of praise. Here goes...

1. The title is a perfect fit because this girl...Evie...IS different. Her ideals, standards, and beliefs are almost foreign in some respects to those of her new classmates and not just in that "homeschooler" way. It's not merely the more structured study setting she has to adjust too, it's the whole environment from students and teachers to the hierarchy of popularity and rights both recognized and impinged upon. It's a very different mindset than the one she was raised in and one that she'll need to adjust to rather quickly if she hopes to keep her dreams of attending Cornell alive. (Or will she? -dun-dun-DUN-)

2. The cast of characters is a unique blend stemming from a variety of backgrounds (both culturally and religiously) that reflect what we see in the world today. Think about your friends, acquaintances, and neighbors. It's highly doubtful they are all cookie-cutter images of you so why shouldn't the literary world reflect that diversity as well? My point exactly...and the author does a great job in creating that mix right here. From a girl that lives on a fairly self-sustaining homestead to the peppy Cheer Squad leader with more substance than it may first seem and a lot more in-between, they're an eclectic bunch but memorable all the more for it.

3. A mother daughter relationship that doesn't spout angst, extreme displays of over protective behavior, or overtly sunshine and roses declarations of love....but instead presents them more as sisters, best friends even. Shocked? I'm not, but that could have something to do with my own relationship with my Mom. Literarily speaking, it is more of a shocker but a welcome one at that. Martha (Evie's Mom as she's referred to primarily in the book) is a down to earth woman who may have lived an "interesting" life once upon a time which resulted in the birth of her daughter (think hippies and free love, not call girl), but that chapter of her life is closed, leaving her free to instill the values of clean living, self and mutual respect for all living things along with a good healthy dose of rebellious nature in Evie's life. A refreshing approach to see AND read.

4. The emotions cast are felt full force...even the first blush of teenage love and potential heartbreak. While not breaking new ground with the inclusion of a love life (potentially) for Evie, the way it is approached is somewhat "different" (there's that word again) as it doesn't take center stage in the story and yet it's positive and negative reprucussions are clearly felt. It's a blur of new emotions mixed with anxiety and a little self-doubt but something that comes with life and Evie is well equipped to handle it.

5. A broad range of topics, some of which are controversial in nature, are covered within these pages...some of which you might not anticipate. Abuse of power when dealing with teachers as well as students, freedom of speech, inappropriate relationships, environmental causes, friendship, making hard decisions for better or worse, and staying true to your beliefs....all this and more in this ONE novel. Quite the feat but well presented.

In short (okay, so this was anything but short...sorry!), this BOOK is different...not in the fantastical elements used sort of way, but in the reality of the events and situations presented, the strength of the beliefs put forth, and the possibilities left open like a warm sunny day. It's a fiction book, yes...but one that will have you thinking of all the real life applications long after you finish the final page. A great read indeed and one I'd certainly recommend though in regards to the age level, I'd say the "12 - 16 years old" audience they were aiming for is just about as young as I would go. There are a few sensually tinged scenes and the concepts explored may be a little over the heads of readers younger than the intended group, but that doesn't mean it can't wait on their wish lists in the mean time. As for adult readers, come one...come all. In fact, a read of this book may open up a few doors of conversations to be had with those younger folks around you. From the "hard talks" to their social awareness, there are many jumping points to take note of.

Review copy courtesy of Samantha and Melissa at Peachtree Publishers. (THANKS!) For more information on this title as well as their full catalog of amazing adventures, be sure to check out their site, their blog, their Facebook page, or follow along on Twitter! (Gotta love publisher's who are accessible... ^_^) To discover more about author J.J. Johnson and her current happenings, visit her website, GoodReads page, or friend her on Facebook. Curious to sample the book before you buy it? Check out the excerpt via the publisher's website for a taste.

Until next time...happy reading!


Misha said...

A mother-daughter relationship lacking in angst - that's something different :D Usually all the books involving a mother-daughter relationship are so angsty!
I have this from Netgalley, so I am looking forward to reading it :)

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

I wish you were going to BEA. I would sure like to meet you!

Gina said...

Misha: I know, right? I mean it happens (A LOT) yes, but so does the other extreme. Nice to see it represented. Let me know what you think once you've read it!

Michelle: Ah now that would be fun, right? Alas, not in the cards this year... *le SIGH* Perhaps for the better as I'm not quite certain I'm as interesting in person as I am on paper... ^_^

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