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John Clark <[log in to unmask]>
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Wed, 29 Jan 2020 09:20:44 -0500
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How to Build a Heart / Maria Padian
Fear isn't rational, at least most of the time. However, that doesn't stop
many teens from letting it rule parts of their life. Izzy lost her
bright-as-the-sun father, a marine, when his jeep ran over an IED in Iraq.
That was six years ago and she, Mami and her younger brother, Jack have
moved six times since he died, as her mother tries to find a job that pays
enough for them to have a better life.
  They've landed in a mobile home park in Virginia and Mami promised Izzy
no more moves until she graduates in two years. Her best friend Roz, lives
across the street. Her living situation is precarious as her mom drinks
excessively and has a very unstable and violent boyfriend. Roz is a risk
taker, Izzy is not, but their friendship works. Roz is obsessed with the
rich kids who live on the other side of town, particularly a star
basketball player named Sam. When Sam notices Izzy at a convenience store
after her little brother runs into him on the way to pay for snacks, he
looks at her in a way nobody ever has. Too bad he has a rich and popular
girlfriend. What follows begins when Sam's little sister Aubrey transfers
to the private catholic school where Izzy goes and tries out for the a
capella group Izzy's in. There are more sparks, more not sharing what's
happening, reconnection with a family member, hope for a better place to
live and heartache that all blends together as Izzy realizes that family
and sense of place can be much more than she ever could have imagined. It's
a great story and one that many teens will find a connection to. Definitely
worth adding to a library.

Three Things I Know Are True / Betty Culley
  It's very clear that Betty Culley has experienced some of the emotional
landscape in this book, either personally or professionally. She also
captures hardscrabble Maine, the part I'm very familiar with, as well as
Gerry Boyle. Written in verse form, this takes readers through a bleak
physical and emotional landscape, part of rural Maine where hope left when
the local mill closed, sadly a reality in more and more towns. What
transpires as you follow the events after Jonah accidentally shoots himself
in the head, is first a fracturing between neighbors, so well described as
Liv and Clay's mom meet on the yellow line dividing the dead end street
where they live like it was a demilitarized zone. Then you follow Jonah's
care, with the personalities of the nurses caring for him playing their own
roles, Liv's feelings about her brother, as well as Clay, the boy who was
her brother's best friend and who she cares deeply about, then the events
leading up to the negligence trial, pitting Clay's family against Liv's.
You get to see Liv's inner monologue as she tries to connect with her
brother in his new, nearly unresponsive form, deal with how unimportant
school becomes and go through the trial and its aftermath. One scene that
really illustrates the plight of those struggling when wages and benefits
are inadequate, or nonexistent, comes when Liv deals with her mom's tooth.
Read the book to see what happened. This is an excellent look at struggle,
grief, love and the real Maine.

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