Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Losing It by Erin Fry

Bennett loves watching Dodgers games with his dad.  Their ritual includes eating lots of fatty foods.  Bennett feels a little guilty eating so much because he and his dad are already very overweight but their baseball ritual is not only fun, it also helped them heal after his mother died of cancer.  But the bad habits catch up to them when Bennett's dad has a stroke.  With his dad facing months of recovery Bennett has to go live with his fitness fanatic aunt and uncle.  Worse, he learns that the insurance company won't pay the medical bills if his father doesn't recover fast enough.  Scared by the stroke and thinking about his own future Bennett decides he needs to push himself harder and signs up for the track team.  His decision has some unexpected consequences.  He finds it easier to talk to a girl he has always liked and he has a new group of supporters when a bully harasses him.  But on the downside, his best friend seems to be mad at him and accuses him of selling out.  Bennett's transformation reads a little bit forced to me although the story overall seems realistic, especially the conflicting emotions from his friend.  I did appreciate, however, the descriptions of Bennett's struggles running which made it clear that even when he was getting better, it was still really hard.  I think that might be inspiring to others who think they can't exercise because it's not easy.  Even those who exercise regularly still find it difficult.

The Fire Horse Girl by Kay Honeyman

Jade Moon is a Fire Horse, the unluckiest sign in the zodiac for girls.  Everyone in her village knows her and knows of the problems she has had because of her birth sign.  When Sterling Promise arrives to make a business offer to her father they make plans to travel to America and Jade Moon goes along with the hope of starting a new life where she is not so cursed.  Jade Moon is surprised to find that rather than immediately beginning anew in San Francisco, they must all spend months locked up on Angel Island to prove that they belong in the United States.  With her prospects looking bleaker by the moment Jade Moon decides to take some drastic action to get off the island but her decision leads her down an even more unexpected path.  I was captured by the beginning of this book which seemed to leaning towards a fairy tale inspired story.  But as it went on I was just overwhelmed by all that was happening.  In the end, it feels like there were three complete books in this one - Jade Moon's time in Asia, her time on Angel Island, and her time in San Francisco as an Asian mobster.  I think all three stories are probably fine, just too much all together for me.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean

No one believes she can do it when Callie volunteers to be silent for one entire day for a school charity event.  Callie always has something to say, something that usually gets her into trouble.  But recently Callie has been thinking about things more especially since she has seen her dead mother on several occasions.  Beginning with the day of silence at school Callie stops talking entirely for weeks.  Although her dad doesn't notice for quite awhile, Callie finds that being silent lets her see things she never noticed before and she even makes new friends including the blind boy downstairs and a homeless man who seems to have a strange connection to Callie.  Callie also meets a stray Irish wolfhound she names Homeless.  She feels that Homeless belongs with her family but her dad completely disagrees despite the unusual things that are happening.  This book falls into the category of magical realism - realistic with a few magical events.  Other than seeing her dead mother the magical events happen towards the end of the book so I can't tell you about them!  But like most books in this genre there is a quiet story that comes together with some fairly heart-rending revelations.