Module 10: Forever

11 08 2010

Book Cover

Summary: When Katherine and Michael fall in love they are sure it is forever. But as they face the end of their senior year and a summer apart with the knowledge they will be going to different colleges, they begin to question if it will last. Forever is all about firsts, and finding out how long they last.

Citation: Blume, Judy. (2003) Forever. New York: Simon Pulse

My Impressions: I had a little bit of trouble getting into this book. The big problem for me was that I just didn’t feel that I got to know the characters very well and that the author didn’t go in depth enough. That being said, Forever has its merits particularly as a book that deals very candidly and realistically with two major issues teens face–sex and love. I can see how this would be a frequently challenged book, there are some pretty explicit sex scenes and even some teenage drinking (although for them it’s legal since the drinking age is 18) and references to pot smoking. However, none of it is sensationalized nor is it taken lightly. The book deals with issues that teens face, and I think they can definitely learn mature ways to approach it through this book.


“No preaching (Blume never does) but the message is clear; no hedging (Blume never does) but a candid account by Kathy gives intimate details of a first sexual relationship. The characters and dialogue are equally natural and vigorous, the language uncensored, the depiction of family relationships outstanding.” –Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

Library Use Suggestion: Forever would be a good book to mention with mature high schoolers in a book talk  that deals with love and relationships.


Module 5: Speak

7 07 2010

Book Cover

Summary: Melinda doesn’t have it easy. Not only is she starting ninth grade, but everyone in the school hates her for calling the cops at a end of summer party. Ever since the party she has had to deal with an overwhelming depression due to a horrible event that happened that night which she is unable to speak even to herself. Melinda must learn how to find happiness in her life and move past what has happened to her. She must learn how to find hope and how to find her voice again.

Citation: Anderson, Laurie Halse. (2006). Speak. New York: Penguin.

My Impressions: I had a little trouble getting into this book at first. Not only did Melinda seem a little too insightful, but until I knew why she was depressed I wasn’t able to connect with her too well. However, as Melinda’s story was revealed I wasn’t able to put the book down. It was great watching her work through her depression, to find hope and her voice, and very realistic. I think many young people will be able to connect with this book.


“This is a compelling book with sharp, crisp writing that draws readers in, engulfing them in the story.” –School Library Journal

“An uncannily funny book even as it plumbs the darkness, Speak will hold readers from the first word to the last.” –Horn Book

Library Use Suggestion: This would be a good book to use when talking about rape and depression. Both are more common than we like to believe, particularly among adolescents. Through the main character Melinda the reader can learn how to deal with both subjects. This can open up conversation to talk with students about how to deal with emotional problems and sexual abuse such as who to reach to and what to do if it happens to them or a friend.

Module 3: The Tequila Worm

27 06 2010

Book Cover

Summary: Sophia is growing up in a Mexican American community in McAllen, Texas, and is learning all the traditions of her Mexican American heritage. However, there is a part of Sophia that wants to experience the other side–to go to college and to experience life outside her little community. The opportunity comes with a scholarship to an exclusive boarding school in Austin. After convincing her parents to let her go, she learns that she can accomplish her dreams while remaining true to herself and her heritage.

Citation: Canales, Viola. (2005) The Tequila Worm. New York: Wendy Lamb Books.

My Impressions: To be honest I didn’t think I’d enjoy this book much. It’s different from the style of books I usually enjoy and I didn’t think there would be much I could relate to. However, the author does an excellent job of describing Mexican American cultural aspects that others would not already know making it easy for the reader to understand the culture Sophia comes from. Children of all cultures can relate to this book because it is a coming of age book in which the character learns not only about herself and her culture, but the importance of hanging on to family, friends and tradition no matter where you are. She has the bravery to step outside of the world she knows and in doing so comes to understand more about herself and where she comes from. This book was an easy read, and I easily felt Sophia’s emotions. I was happy when her parents agreed to let her go to boarding school, I was nervous as she went to school, and I even teared up when someone close to her dies. Although I didn’t originally think I’d enjoy this book, I was glad to be proven wrong.


Each chapter centers on the vivid particulars of Mexican American traditions–celebrating the Day of the Dead, preparing for a cousin’s quinceanera . The explanations of cultural traditions never feel too purposeful; they are always rooted in immediate, authentic family emotions, and in Canales’ exuberant storytelling, which, like a good anecdote shared between friends, finds both humor and absurdity in sharply observed, painful situations–from weathering slurs and other blatant harassment to learning what it means to leave her community for a privileged, predominately white school. Readers of all backgrounds will easily connect with Sofia as she grows up, becomes a comadre , and helps rebuild the powerful, affectionate community that raised her.” –Gillian Engberg, Booklist Online excerpt

“Canales, the author of the story collection Orange Candy Slices and Other Secret Tales (2001), is a graduate of Harvard Law School, suggesting that Sofia’s story at least closely parallels her own. She is an accomplished storyteller, though not yet, perhaps, a successful novelist. The episodic narrative has disconcerting leaps in time at the beginning, and a sense of completion, or a moral displayed, at several points throughout-all lacking the tension to carry the reader forward. This said, the characters and setting are so real to life that readers who connect with Sofia at the start will find many riches here, from a perspective that is still hard to find in youth literature.” —Kirkus Reviews excerpt

Library Use Suggestion: This would be a great book to promote during Hispanic Heritage month or as students are studying Mexican culture. Another idea would be to read either the entire book or relevant chapters about the Day of the Dead to help students understand how other cultures view Halloween. Children could then create their own Day of the Dead items.