Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Road Trip Wednesday: in which Elissa starts to feel like a stalker...

Once again, I'm going to take a stab at the YA Highway's Road Trip Wednesday theme (see, I can't comply with too much structure, so if something is supposed to happen weekly, you can pretty much guarantee I will do it once every few months...), which is BEST BOOK OF JUNE!

Well.  It just so happens that this totally coincides with a post I've been wanting to write, but I felt like it might make me seem like a crazy person.  No, not really a crazy person, but just that kind of fan who crosses the line between being...YAY I HAVE A FAN! to OMG THIS PERSON IS OBSESSED WITH ME.

And I'm  not.  Obsessed.  But I really admire the writing of Australian YA writer Simmone Howell, and this month I reread her second YA novel, Everything Beautiful and then read her debut, Notes from the Teenage Underground, and let me tell you, they are both so wonderful I wish I had written them myself.

So I gave my students an assignment for their fourth quarter book report, and one of the options was to send an email or letter to the author of the book they read and just, you know, tell them about what they thought.  Fan mail.  And then I thought I might as well do the same, and I wrote this gushing email all about how the book Everything Beautiful had, you know, changed my life.  And then I followed her blog.  And followed her on twitter.  And gushed a little more on Absolute Write.  And that doesn't even count all the students I passed the book to, or all the ones I plan to pass it to in the fall.  So yeah.  I'm not obsessed.  They're just really good books.  Here are my reviews, and you should all read them both!

First, her debut (even though I read it second):

I read Howell's second book first, but this was still a great follow-up!  An original story, awesome pop culture references from art and film and feminism--exactly the type of book I would have loved as a teen!  On top of that, the dialogue is interesting, the characters quirky and yet layered, and the themes in the book are carefully and thoughtfully drawn.  I especially  like the exploration of the "three girl movie" structure, and Gem's reflections on the power struggles found in a triangle.  I can't wait to read Simmone Howell's next book!

And then her second book (the one that got me hooked):

This book is exactly the kind of book I aspire to write.  A memorable main character, a snappy voice, a quiet lyricism that makes me want to copy whole paragraphs out and share them with people, and a clear and captivating plot, too.  I like the way there is emotion but no sentimentality, and there is "edginess" without making it seem like edginess was the only goal in writing the book.  I would like to immediately go out and buy the debut from this author, except I may want to reread Everything Beautiful first.


Lisa said...

I am writing this down so I remember Simmone Howell.

Lisa said...

P.S. I am becoming reading obsessed.

elissa said...

I can totally get behind that obsession! :)

Lisa said...

Help me, I just put one of her books on hold at the library. Aaaaand checked out her website.

Nomes said...

LOL @ your title.

And, yeah, both these books rock :) Awesome picks


KO said...

I put them on my list! thanks