Touching Spirit Bear, by Ben Mikaelsen
Touching Spirit Bear is a YA novel about an angry rich kid named Cole who winds up in a lot of trouble over some pesky assault and battery charges. Spared from jail by a Native American program called Circle Justice, he finds himself banished to a cold northern island for a year. It is there that he learns some hard truths...and discovers the strength within himself to become more than he has been.
I liked the story, especially all the Native American stuff, though I kind of thought Cole's transformation was unrealistically fast.
The Demon Child Trilogy, by Jennifer Fallon
My brother-in-law Nate, whose family stayed with us for a few weeks, saw one of these books lying around the house and asked, "Who's reading the romance fantasy books?"
And I will admit, the covers are bad. Real, real bad. But don't judge them by their covers. I swear they are not fantasy romance novels. I swear it. On the contrary, what I like most about Jennifer Fallon's writing is the depth of her world. She's got centuries of history for a variety of countries. There are complex cultures. Roiling politics. Engaging characters.. Plus, she's amazingly gifted at showing the story from multiple perspectives. Plus, she's awesome at weaving a gripping plot. Plus, I like her.
So read these. Unless you're offended by some moderate literary sex and violence. No swears, though! Phew.
Breaking Night, by Liz Murray
I read this at the separately rendered recommendation of my friend Pam and my mother-in-law Brenda.
So glad I listened.
Breaking Night is the true story of a girl who is raised in the Bronx by drug-addicted parents. It's about how she goes without food while her parents spend money on crack. It's about how she loves them anyway. It's about a homeless teen wandering the streets while her father lived in a men's shelter and her mother lay dying of AIDS. It's about how she decided to go back to school after 11 years of playing hooky. It's about how she earned straight As and a New York Times scholarship and admission into Harvard while sleeping in stairwells.
I find myself thinking about this book all the time. Partially because it makes me feel like a rock-star mom. Partially because it's an awesomely inspiring story about how We Can Do Hard Things. Mostly, though, I think about this book because it's a lot about love-- about how love can prevail in even the most infertile conditions. Here were these two parents, broken and chained by addiction. Here were these little girls-- hungry, dirty, neglected. And there, stretched between them all, were golden threads of love that endured through it all. Miraculous.