The Starburst Effect / Kelly Oram Independently published (June 28,
Lily is one of those teens who's just trying to survive, but her family,
kids at school, and inner conflicts are conspiring to make that impossible.
Her parents fighting has become so loud her abusive male neighbor, Noah, a
high school football star has given her the nickname Trash, which has been
picked up by all the popular kids.
Then several things happen in short order. Her supposed boyfriend dumps
her by proxy, Noah suffers a severe brain injury after a hit on the
football field, her best friend starts ghosting her, and her parents get a
divorce. If all that wasn't enough, she begins to question her goal of
going to college to study journalism.
Just when it seems like life is about to break her, a most unusual and
unexpected opportunity comes her way. Noah, whose outlook on life and
personality have flipped completely due to his TBI, wants to write a book
about the injury and his recovery. Lily needs something to replace her spot
on the school paper. She reluctantly agrees to work with him on his book,
and she discovers what she expected to be a really uncomfortable experience
is anything but. This is a great look at how the unexpected can often be a
healing journey. It's far from smooth for either teen, but reading along as
they come to grips with those unsettling moments as well as dealing with
other teens' discomfort and meanness makes for a fine and insightful story.
Saving Sophie by Debbie Schrack Fire & Ice Young Adult Books (April 10,
This is an excellent first novel and a perfect example of an author taking
experiences from her profession and turning them into a polished,
sympathetic and very enjoyable story. Gabe's guilt and anger surrounding
his older brother's drunken driving accident is extremely well portrayed.
He not only feels anger, but is barely in touch with his own feelings of
loss surrounding the close relationship the two of them once had.
Then there's Sophie, the sole survivor of the fatal crash. She's struggling
with a brain injury as well as amnesia. When Gabe is offered an opportunity
to tutor her, he's conflicted, but agrees. The last thing he expects is to
fall for her. What follows is sweet, messy, and extremely believable,
particularly the end. It's a terrific story and deserves consideration by
all school and public libraries.
John R. Clark
Author, cataloger, book reviewer