Morbid and light-hearted stories

In the end I was able to read three books for Teen Read Week (not including Twilight).  Out of the three books, I would have to say I liked the best was Unwind by Neal Shusterman or Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson was a light-hearted and quick read.  A girl receives a letter from her aunt commanding her to go to Europe on a scavanger hunt of sorts.  Essentially it is like the popular movie P.S. I Love You, except its an aunt saying good-bye to her niece and apologizing for not being there for her.  Along the way, the girl learns a little bit about herself, how to travel, and fall in love with a guy from England.  It is an idealistic travel tale of what it would be like to travel alone as a young female teenager.  I found that the more I talked about this book with Brian, or thought about it, the more I saw how the story had holes or was just naive.  It did have a couple good things for teenage girls to learn, so I thought, but the same lessons along the same line of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares.

In The Book Thief, there is a deeper tale of love and fear as told from Death’s point of view.  Throughout the book, horrible things happen as it is set in Germany during World War II and yet the tale is hauntingly beautiful.  One scene in particular stands out where the girl, Lisel, has her first sip of champagne.  Her foster father, paints and in return receives two glasses of champagne for he and his daughter.  “In the basement, when she wrote about her life, Lisel vowed that she would never drink champagne again, for it would never taste as good as it did on the warm afternoon in July…At times, in that basement, she woke up tasting the sound of the accordion in her ears.  She could feel the sweet burn of champagne on her tongue.  Sometimes she sat against the wall, longing for the warm finger of paint to wander just once more down the side of her nose, or to watch the sandpaper texture of her papa’s hands.  If only she could be so oblivious again, to feel such love without knowing it, mistaking it for laughter and bread withonly the scent of jam spread out on top of it.  It was the best time on her life.”

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

The last book I finished was Unwind.  At first I didn’t expect much, especially as the premise was a future America where children could be chosen to be unwound (meaning that their entire bodies become donors) as a compromise between the Pro-life and Pro-choice movements.  I was quickly grabbed by the story’s main character, and hero, Connor.  As he races to evade the unwinding, he meets other children who have been chosen to be unwound.  The ideas are well-thought out and I could easily picture this futuristic America where teenagers don’t know whether or not their parents will choose to unwind them this day or next.  As the story continues, all three characters, Connor, Risa and Lev, become adults through the circumstances they are faced with.  It is a great dystopia novel for highschoolers as it deals with the idea of where consciousness begins, if someone has a soul, and the means of surviving when all odds are against you.

Next on the list are some children’s classics, like Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island, and Wind in the Willows.