Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby

A patron came in Blauvelt looking for this YA title and I decided to read it myself. It was published in 2006, and is the story of 13 year old Joey, a girl who is almost completely deaf. She can only hear the very loudest noise; the reader finds out later that her disability is the result of an abusive father. But Joey meets her savior, Charlie, accidentally, while out picking wild mushrooms. An older man, Charlie yells at Joey for trespassing on his property, but the two become good friends. Charlie’s parents were deaf, so he understands the loneliness and isolation that Joey feels. Joey’s mother is dead set against her using sign language, since she feels that people will just pity Joey. But her reasons run deeper than that, and Charlie is the first to figure out exactly why Ruth won’t let Joey sign. But when Joey meets Sukira, a chimpanzee that Charlie rescued in Africa, who uses sign language to communicate, she finally finds a kindred spirit.

The plot has many bittersweet elements, and the heartbreaking issue of experimentation using animals becomes prominent towards the end of the novel. Although this issue makes it a tough read, I think the novel has value for teens; it forces them to confront the values of compassion and responsibility for others who are helpless. The novel is based on a true story, and is recommended for grades 6 through 9.

Juvenile series and sequels: “What book comes next?”

During this morning’s training with Grace R., I thought of a web site I use a lot at my school library job that might be helpful (maybe I mentioned it before in an earlier blog?- if so, apologies)

I use this to look up the order of titles in a series or to see if there are any new titles written in a series, etc..

You can search by Title of series, Author of series and Subject.

I find it very helpful when kids ask what is the next book in a series, etc.. It seems to be up-to-date.

The ‘Juvenile Series and Sequels’ database contains over 36,000 books in 4,900 series titles that are classified into three audiences:

  • Juvenile Easy [JE] – for birth through 2nd grade readers
  • Juvenile [J] – for 2nd through 6th grade readers
  • Young Adult [YA] – for 6th through 12th grade readers

I find it very helpful when kids ask what is the next book in a series, etc.. It seems to be up-to-date.

“Lydia’s Party” by Margaret Hawkins

This new title describes a dinner party held annually at Lydia’s house where 6 good women friends attend (almost) every January for the past 20 years or so. Each chapter is told from the viewpoint of a different member of the friendship circle of women now mostly in their 50’s.  We learn that Lydia is awaiting a call from her doctor who is supposed to call her the day of the party with the test results where she will learn whether or not she has cancer. As each women prepares to attend the party, some are more eager than others. Some are married, some are not. The party itself is less than half the book, but that’s okay. The narration of the party is somewhat of a disappointment because reading about what each woman is thinking beforehand is more interesting than what actually occurs at the party. The premise is good, but not followed through enough. I don’t want to give away the ending, but while the book was somewhat entertaining, overall the plot was had holes in it and was not as fulfilling as it started out to be.

Carson McCullers

A block or two from the center of Nyack on South Broadway stands the home of the late Carson McCullers.  From 1945 until her death in 1967, she lived and wrote in this home.  “The Member of the Wedding,” “Ballad of the Sad Cafe,” and “Clock Without Hands” were all written here.

The three-story, 6,000-square-foot Victorian will soon be reborn as the Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians.  Columbus State University of Columbus, Georgia, recently announced that Dr. Mary Mercer, a physician and friend of McCullers, who died in 2013,  gifted the university with the house, some of McCullers’ possessions and $350,000 for the center’s operating expenses and program development.

The house will be used for lodging for study-away programs in the New York City area.  The center’s director has stated that “the center is dedicated to preserving McCullers’ legacy, nurturing American writers and musicians, educating young people and fostering the literary and musical life of Columbus, Georgia, and the American South.”

“King and Maxwell”

When you read a David Baldacci novel, you know exactly what you are getting:  a detective story involving some kind of government plot, the setting is usually the Washington, D.C.-Virginia area, mostly dialogue, and very short chapters.  Having written more than two dozen books using this formula, Baldacci obviously knows a winning combination.

“King and Maxwell” does not deviate from this aforementioned pattern.  Sean King and Michelle Maxwell are two ex-Secret Service agents.  Since I did not read the novel that preceded this one, I don’t know why they were let go from the Secret Service or how they formed a detective agency. This information isn’t really important to understanding the plot.

Sam Wingo is on a secret mission for the government in Afghanistan.  The mission goes wrong, Wingo is branded a traitor, and is reported as dead to his family.  Tyler, his son, doesn’t believe any of this and hires King and Maxwell to investigate the circumstances of what happened to his dad.  This investigation gets King and Maxwell into deep trouble with Homeland Security, the CIA, and the Army.  Of course, everything works out for the best in the end.

In spite of a predictable plot, there is a surprising amount of suspense, especially as you reach the climax of the story.  “King and Maxwell” is an enjoyable book, especially if you put your brain on autopilot and just go along for the ride.