Sunday, 15 July 2018

Late post on a busy weekend...

It’s after 5pm on Sunday afternoon and I’m just starting this post, so I’ll be a day late once this gets sent to email subscribers.  My excuse is that it has been an unexpectedly busy (and FUN!!) weekend, so please bear with me. I don’t actually like writing late in the day, as I’m more in the “posting” mood when the house is quiet and the morning light, sights and sounds accompany my typing, not to mention my delicious thermos of chai!  But here goes…
I read a Young Adult book this past week by Toronto teacher-librarian and first-time author Susan Marshall, NemeSIS.  I received a copy of this book, signed by the author, at the big library superconference I went to this past February, and I finally had a chance to read it.  This novel tells the story of Nadine, a grade 10 student who, after a lonesome first year at high school, is anticipating more of the same, including eating her lunch surreptitiously at a library study carrel, unless she makes a plan to change her habits.  The inspiration for this change comes in the form of an "AA" pamphlet, which outlines the 12-step program, and Nadine decides to create her own 12 (or more) steps to change her life. These steps include such things as taking part in school life, making friends, living, not just surviving, and getting a boyfriend.  Nadine’s world has changed significantly in the past year, when her Dad moved away, making more permanent her parents’ separation. This move has also emotionally affected Nadine’s older sister Rachel, whose already erratic mood swings have intensified. And mom has thrown herself into work, spending less and less time at home, giving Rachel more time to torment Nadine and their mom less opportunities to intervene.  All in all, Nadine's life threatens to spiral out of control, and she is clearly perceptive enough to realize that she alone is responsible for changing her situation… which she manages to do, literally one “step” at a time. In the interest of allowing the details of these changes to unfold at the author’s, and Nadine's, own pace, I won’t give any more information than this, but I will say that this novel kept me interested right to the end.  Marshall’s book tackles many of the significant issues facing teens today, domestic drama, sibling rivalry, mental health, bullying, challenges transitioning to high school, and of course first relationship stresses. All of these she manages to address fully and completely without sounding like she is lecturing. In fact, the whole book, told from Nadine’s point of view, has a realistic tone that made this reader wonder whether the character is based on someone in Marshall’s life. I wouldn’t be surprised if this book is one of the nominees for next year’s OLA Forest of Reading White Pine Award. I would highly recommend it to young adults in grades 9 or 10 - I think some of the content is too mature for my elementary-aged students, but I plan to offer this book to the high school librarians when the new school year starts. I dare you to read it and not develop an emotional attachment to the main character that has you hoping for the best to the very last page.
That’s all for today.  Stay cool and keep reading!
Bye for now…
Julie

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