Top Ten Tuesday: Books About Friendship

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they will post a new Top Ten list that one of their bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Anyone can join!

This week’s topic is all about friendship. I interpreted this as any form of friendship, as I have one book on my list that is about best friends falling OUT of friendship (depressing, I know, but it shows the true workings of friendship). So here are my top ten…

31187008517573559So what books did y’all come up with? I’m sure there are plenty more that I completely missed, so let me know!

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Review: The Fault In Our Stars

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

(Description from Goodreads)

FINAL GRADE:

Arating

Has it seriously taken me this long to finally read this book? Yes, sadly, it has. However, I’m so glad I finally read it.

Words escape me when it comes to how I feel about the Fault In Our Stars. That’s probably why it has taken me several weeks to actually write this review. There were so many moments that just pulled at my heartstrings and when it was all over, I fell into a book hangover (which I had to immediately pull myself out of because of classes starting).

Let’s start with the characters. I liked ALL of the characters in this book and LOVED quite a few. Hazel Grace and Augustus Waters are by far some of the most remarkable YA characters I have encountered during my time of writing this blog. Yes, I know everyone loves them and there is such a following of them, but they deserve it. They brought many laughs to my face, they brought many tears to my eyes, and through it all, they provided a smile on my face, even during those moments that were heartbreaking. Cancer can touch anyone, not just adults, but the topic of children having cancer is far more taboo. Both Hazel and Augustus were truly remarkable characters and teenagers who were always looking at death in the eyes. Heck, all of the characters were remarkable in their own way, especially the parents. Thank you, John Green, for giving us a YA novel where the parents are there and supportive!

Everyone talks about how beautifully John Green writes and I can clearly see why. But I think there’s more to it than it just being a beautifully written book. It has a beautifully written meaning behind it. Like any other YA book, this one is full of love, friendship, hope, life, but unlike most YA novels, this one a powerfully, thought-provoking concept. Am I making sense?  It’s hard to do this book justice in words, both because it has such a fanbase built up around it and because it’s one of those books that truly makes you lose your words. The connection between the characters, the stories that take place around each character, everything about it was beautiful. I’m sure there are plenty of people who do not feel the same way as those of us who absolutely adore the book and I can understand. There is a great deal of hype for this book and perhaps it’s hard to live up to that hype for some readers. There are also several aspects that occur in the book that I can understand would make people dislike it (for example, the almost miracle like drug that has kept Hazel alive for so long when she should have died years before) and that’s understandable. Cancer is a tough subject to portray and perhaps it’s a touchy subject for some. However, I do believe that John Green has written a rather unique story that deal with cancer patients, as it is not entirely doom and gloom and manages to have some light moments full of romantic gestures. Hazel and Augustus fall in love super fast, but that’s what teenagers do! Teenagers look at one another and bam, perhaps it is love at first sight for them. That’s nothing to mock or treat as a negative aspect, it just happens.

The only true problem I had with this book was that there were some instances where the dialogue felt forced or unnatural for a teenager, whether they had cancer or not. However, I think this is something that is very difficult to truly grasp, as most of those writing teenager dialogues are no longer teenagers. It’s hard to get that true feeling that a teenager is talking when the person writing has way more experience than the character they are writing for. And, I agree, that the conversation about breakfast foods was a little…obnoxious? But I think it was supposed to provide some comic relief for one of those serious times.

There are so many aspects of this book that I can talk about and want to talk about, but honestly, I don’t think I can do the book justice. I will say that if you haven’t read this book yet, do so. It may not be your favorite and you may even feel let down after hearing all the hype about it, but at least give it a chance. Yes, the hype is built up. Yes, the fanbase is huge. Yes, you will either love it or you will hate it. But don’t let any of those aspects deter you from this novel. I will end this review with the fact that I did cry while reading this book. Not a boo hoo cry, but tears were shed. I don’t normally cry from reading books, but this one made it happen.

Okay? Okay.

Review: Streaks of Blue

Streaks of Blue by Jack Chaucer

Streaks of Blue by Jack Chaucer

Adam Upton and Thomas “Lee” Harvey are plotting the next big school massacre at their New Hampshire high school. Nicole Janicek, who knew Adam in elementary school, tries to reconnect with the damaged teen at the start of their senior year. But will Nicole’s attempt to befriend the would-be killer disrupt the plot and turn Adam’s life around before the clock strikes 12:14?

(Description from Goodreads)

My Rating: 4 out of 5

Before I get on with the review, I’d like to mention that I received this book from Netgalley for an honest review. Yay for ARCs!

When I first saw the description for this book, I immediately wanted to read it. Considering I’m a high school librarian, school shootings always are a touchy subject with me, though quite honestly I’m sure they are with everyone. I also really liked the cover. Yes, I judge books by their covers.

Let me start with the negatives first. The dialogue between the characters felt very forced and not very realistic. The main characters of the book are teenagers; teenagers do not constantly say the name of the person they are talking to in conversation, but they did in this book. There were quite a few times when the conversations that took place just sounded incredibly awkward; I know teenagers can be awfully awkward themselves, but some of the conversations just seemed like they were over-the-top awkward. If some of the “name dropping” wasn’t involved, it would have been less awkward and a little bit more realistic.

Another issue I had with the book was the whole concept of the main character being alerted to a possible school shooting through a dream. People dream horrible things every day, but that doesn’t mean they act on what happened or what was said in their dreams. The dream was also confusing to the story; the mention of 14th and Stardust happened, and the main character kept questioning it, but even still it was awkward and forced, almost like it was thrown in at the last minute to add something else to the idea.

Now for the good aspects. I enjoyed the characters; they were all believable as teenagers. Several characters I felt were unnecessary, but I still liked their presence nonetheless.  Several instances between the characters felt unnecessary, but I saw where the author was going with his intentions for them. They did add to the story, but not so much the main storyline. They were still entertaining to read however. Anyway, Nicole Janicek was a really enjoyable main character, a genuine person who merely wanted to save her school from a horrific event. I’m sure if anyone was alerted to the fact that there might be a chance of a school shooting, they would do what they could to stop it, especially after what happened last December at Newtown. Shootings, especially school shootings, are difficult to discuss and remember; I feel the author did a great job at writing on such a touchy subject, especially just under a year after that shooting. As awful as it is to say, the two guys planning the school shooting were also “great” though I should probably say they were well developed and were realistic in their actions, especially their language. As much as a stereotype as it is, it does seem like those who commit such horrible acts are those that are the “misfits” or the “outcasts” who are not necessarily part of the popular crowd and have been deemed as such. The author portrayed these types of characters incredibly well and I enjoyed reading about their thoughts and actions, though more of how they were and less of what they were doing.

Breaking boundaries with cliques and being able to merge and be friends with those who are different is admirable; people should be less judgmental (says the person who is judging people for being judgmental, ha!) and more accepting of those who are “different.” While there were certain aspects of this book that felt forced and unreal, the idea of Nicole becoming friends with Adam in order to save not only her school, but him from his actions as well is very realistic. Sometimes all it takes is one nice remark or even a smile to completely change someone’s day…thoughts…life. I see it every day in the high school I work in; you never know what is going on in someone’s life, but it doesn’t hurt to be considerate and thoughtful, much like Nicole was to Adam. This book does a great job at depicting a real life, every day situation that can simply be transformed through one thoughtful moment.

Another (minor) aspect about the book that I enjoyed was that there wasn’t a true teenage romance plot. It seems these days that stories boil down to the romance aspect to save the day; honestly, there’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes it doesn’t quite fit the story to do that. I was pleasantly surprised that this book didn’t use love and romance to smooth everything over or save the day, but instead friendship did.

This book was a quick read, but enjoyable. Everything was at a fast pace, but I appreciated that more than having it drag out with excess fluff to make it longer. Streaks of Blue is incredibly relevant to teenagers today, especially with what has happened in recent years. While there were some aspects of the book that I wasn’t a fan of, I did enjoy the read.

Review: How I Lost You

How I Lost You by Janet Gurtler

How I Lost You by Janet Gurtler

There are a few things Grace Anderson knows for sure. One is that nothing will ever come between her and her best friend, Kya Kessler. They have a pact. Buds Before Studs. Sisters Before Misters. But in the summer before senior year, life throws out challenges they never expected. And suddenly the person who’s always been there starts to need the favor returned. Grace and Kya are forced to question how much a best friend can forgive. And the answer is not what they expected.

(Description from Goodreads)

My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I have yet to read a YA book about friendship (until this book), something every young adult deals with practically every day. It was interesting and almost refreshing to read a book that focused on such an important aspect of any young adult’s life. While there were some part of the book that kind of irked me, there were many parts that I felt could easily be related to by young adults, and even adults themselves. Everyone goes through friendships, whether they last or not; it’s even harder when you’ve been friends with someone for a long time and then all of a sudden no longer are. I’m pretty sure everyone has gone through something like that at least once. I know I have.

First of all, kudos to Janet Gurtler for included the sport of paintball into this story. Grace and Kya are some of the most well known paintballers in their area and even professional college teams are looking to recruit them. Thumbs up to that aspect…paintball isn’t a sport you hear about too often, so it was pretty cool to include a lesser known sport into the mix. There were a few times where I thought certain paintball moments in the book were almost pointless, but to really add to the friendship part of the storyline, I think it served its purpose.

My first go-to whenever I think about a book are the characters in it. I wanted to like the characters, but there was something about them that just put me off. Except Levi…he was just too sweet to have anything negative about him. Grace is the main character (as in, it’s told from her perspective) and while she definitely had the qualities of being an awesome friend, she was just too much of a pushover for me. It’s one thing to give in to your friend every no and then, but to give up your own dreams and happiness to make sure your friend is okay, no offense, but that’s just too much. Grace was constantly looking after Kya, her best friend since she moved to the area when she was younger. Kya was always the headstrong one while Grace was always the quieter, in the background one. While Kya truly seemed like she wanted Grace to be happy, she was just a really awful friend. Sure she would apologize every single time she messed up and Grace had to take care of her, but there were just too many of those moments. It’s a little bit more understandable when you find out something incredibly tragic happened to Kya, but at the same time it really takes a toll on Grace and their friendship.

There was another best friend that made this duo a trio. His name was James and quite honestly, I wish more of him had been in the book. Of course, throughout the entire book, there is this awkward tension between James and Kya that Grace doesn’t find out the reason for until almost at the very end. James was the sweet, nerdy, boy-next-door kinda of guy and there was definitely not enough of him in the story, considering the friendship was a trio, though I suppose it focused more on Grace and Kya’s part of the friendship.

Many times while reading this book, I just found myself shaking my head and wanting to shake both Kya and Grace. I wanted to shake Kya because she was just being so stupid. Not only did she put herself before her friend, but she acted recklessly in front of Grace’s mom. Who does that? And then I wanted to shake Grace to wake her up to what Kya was doing and how she could no longer be her caretaker without missing out on her own future. Kya was on a downward spiral of self-destruction and, sadly, there was no end in sight.

Friendship break-ups are always hard; sometimes people just grow apart and sometimes people fight and never speak again. As many people would say, if you’re still friends with your best friend, you are lucky. It doesn’t happen very often anymore…people come and go out of our lives all the time. Sometimes you may come across someone who comes into your life and stays there and isn’t part of the revolving doors of friendship. It’s heartbreaking to see any friendship end, especially one that has been around for quite some time; a void is left by the absence of that friend. However, sometimes it’s for the best, as Grace slowly learns. It’s never easy, but you do have to think about your happiness and future before you can worry and care for someone else and their life. I think Janet Gurtler did a remarkable job at portraying a typical young adult friendship. She always has a way of making every scene as if you are there experiencing it for yourself; there was so much detail throughout the book that several times I felt like I was in Grace’s position, trying to deal with Kya myself. Grace was a great friend to Kya and I truly think Kya was fully capable of being a great friend to Grace; it’s apparent that she was at some point.

There were so many parts of this book that really were realistic and would be easily to relate to by many. With a few hangups, such as Kya being so incredibly annoying, James not being featured enough, and paintball making either too much of an appearance or not enough (if that makes sense), I still think this is a rather wonderful book about the struggles of friendships, especially with young adults.