In See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles, Fern has a lot on her plate. She is starting middle school. She has a younger brother, who is only a toddler and annoys her to no end. Her older brother is gay but no one in the family wants to talk about it. Her dad is embarrassing her by forcing her to be in a cheesy ad for the family restaurant. She is being bullied on the school bus because of her brother. All of this falls by the way side when a horrible tragedy befalls the family and Fern is left feeling guilty for not having done more to prevent it.
First of all, I have to say YA is not usually my genre of choice. I usually don’t enjoy reading YA because I enjoy reading about adults dealing with adult problems. I was extremely skeptical when this book was selected for an online book group I belong to as the August read. The moderator assured us skeptics that it would be a great read.
I am not even sure how to review this book because I am still suffering from a book hangover. The subject matter that is dealt with (sexuality, bullying, death) are treated with such respect by Knowles. It has been a long time since a book made me cry. I went through numerous Kleenex reading this.
The third installment of Julie Cross’s Letters To Nowhere series titled Return To You is just as engaging as the first two. As with the other two books, Julie’s writing is so emotionally charged that you feel everything the characters feel. Their pain. Their joy. Their confusion. Their loneliness.
Julie does a fantastic job with each of these short stories (Return To Sender and Return To You). There is enough mini-story in each of these to keep you interested, while continuing the overall storyline. I really enjoy each of them so much and while I really want more once I am done with each short, I am okay with where they leave off. I don’t feel as though I am completely left high and dry. There is some closure to things or at least the hint of it.
Return to Sender by Julie Cross is a follow up story to Letters to Nowhere. I am told that Julie will be publishing shorter stories for this series rather than additional full length novels. That is great for readers that want more of Jackson and Karen but don’t want to wait.
In Return to Sender, we catch up with Jackson and Karen in the summer. Jackson has graduated high school and is preparing for college in the fall. Karen just won an international competition and is moving further along in her gymnastics career. Karen is making a lot of strides towards dealing with her parents death. Life continues to move on and we get to watch that happen for the characters.
You know those books that stick with you after you read them? Where the characters take up some of your thought and you wonder how they are doing? The ones where you can’t wait to get back to only to realize the story is over? Well, Letters To Nowhere by Julie Cross is one of those books. When the ARC of Letters To Nowhere was available for review, I was intrigued. I have been a huge fan of gymnastics and followed elite gymnastics since the 1988 Seoul Olympics. However, I was a little hesitant because the overall tone of the book sounded quite emotional. I generally like to read books to take me away from reality and the “sad” things that happen in real life, however, once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down.
Julie Cross writes a very emotional and hopeful story about Karen, an older teen who loses her parents in a car accident. She moves in with her gymnastics coach “Coach Bentley” and his son, Jordan. From there we watch her cope with her parents death and handle the extreme pressures of elite gymnastics. She finds a friend in Jordan, who has gone through a loss of his own. They turn to one another when they can’t turn to anyone else. I fell in love with Jordan and his father pretty quickly. Karen has shaken up their world in a way that forces them to face things they did not want to before. She brings them closer together.
Young Adult books are not my favorite romance genre, but I love Maureen A. Miller’s books so I had to try this one. I love Maureen’s imagination in this book. Many times while I was reading it I found myself smiling and wondering how she came up with everything in the book. Of course, as true to Maureen’s writing she can describe a setting like no one else. I always had a clear idea of where the characters were and their surroundings. The story moved along easily and I never really felt lost. The characters were well developed and I felt the same emotions that Aimee felt when she interacted with other characters or when she got herself into a little trouble.
The relationship between Zak and Aimee was believable and was true to their characters throughout. I get excited about young love and that is what we saw with these two. They were two lost souls from two different worlds that found each other in space of all places. The book takes you back to what it felt like to be the odd man out in high school (or anytime really) and not know where you fit. Zak and Aimee found that they fit with each other.