☕ Book Break ☕ | Where You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones

“You’re a teenager. It’s all complicated.”

Where You’ll Find Me

by Jenny B. Jones

Finley is spending part of her school year as an exchange student to Ireland. There she meets teen movie idol Beckett. Formally, Finley had a few escapades, but she cleaned up her act. She does not want to be paired with a heart throb or revisit the party scene.

She has a goal. Her older brother, who passed away, once visited Ireland and she is retracing his steps. Finley has a music competition coming up and feels that she needs to reconnect with her brother’s past in order to finish writing her song.

When I started reading, I did not realize there was an element of an eating disorder. The unfolding of the story line was flawless. Sensitively done. Explores topics of faith, grief, and a slide into eating disorders, as well as forgiveness.

I loved all the layers in this book.

Faith is woven throughout as are the doubts and the complicated feelings of a teenager. There are no pat answers in this book. It doesn’t shy away from difficult to write about topics.

Christian fiction.

Recommend 

Carol Award Winner

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Relevant

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Compelling Characters

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

☕ Book Break ☕ | Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Caden Bosch is a high school student who loves art. He is also schizophrenic. 

Caden’s story alternates between his journey on a ship, and his time in the familiar world. He has to choose which to stay in and who to trust.

Wow. Just, wow.

In the beginning, the book starts out in a disjointed way, illustrating the narrator’s difficulty with reality as he begins to struggle with the symptoms of schizophrenia. I have a tendency to not read book descriptions or reviews before I crack open a new story, so  it left me off balanced, which I think was the point of the book being written this way. Even so, it didn’t take me long to catch on, although I didn’t know exactly what mental health issues he was dealing with.

This is a character driven book and very emotional. Heartbreaking, sensitive, and frightening, this is an enlightening novel. A must read.

It reminded me a little bit of I Am the Cheese, one of my favorite books when I was in junior high.

There is one statement about God that struck me wrong, yet fits in with the internal dialogue of the narrator. 

National Book Award and Golden Kite Winner

The author drew on his experience with his son to write this novel.

Recommended

All the stars.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

☕ Book Break ☕ | The Thing With Feathers by McCall Hoyle

The Thing With Feathers by McCall Hoyle

“Some people see the liquid and think half full. Others only see the air and think half empty. Sometimes I get the sense Chatham sees it all, which is kind of terrifying. I don’t know if I want him to see me–the real me.”

This book caught my eye because I love the Emily Dickinson quote and I loved the cover. It’s been on my list for quite some time.

Emilie is struggling with the loss of her father, who died from a terminal illness four years ago. She also has epilepsy.

I had loads of sympathy for the main character and liked her right away. It is an easy to read, sweet, heartwarming type story. Emilie must navigate a new environment and learns that she has been wrong about many of her assumptions. It has a bit of romance, a bit of mother/daughter relationship (y’all know I love a good mother/daughter story), and, of course, it is a hopeful book as the title indicates. I love a book that is about hope.

I will confess, I got a little teary sometimes. I found myself chuckling every now and then, as well.

Emily Dickinson is given quite a few nods, which I appreciate. I learned something about her that I did not know. 

The story ties everything together nicely.

I liked it.

 

☕ Book Break ☕ | Switched On by John Elder Robison

Reposted from my older site.

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Book Review of Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening by John Elder Robison

In a quest for emotional intelligence, John Elder Robison agreed to allow neuroscientists to experiment on his brain. In this memoir that reminds one of Flowers for Algernon, Robison tells us about his experience with TMS, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and the resulting effects on his emotions and life.

Imagine your world being turned upside down by a sudden awareness that things are not at all the way you thought they were. Scales drop from your eyes. You connect with people in a way you never have before. Things are different, sharper. But there is a caveat. You  see that sometimes ‘friends’ are most definitely not friends at all. Childhood memories are now viewed with disturbing clarity. The gift you so sought after, to become more perceptive, is now yours but the beauty so desired and expected isn’t the only thing this new found ability to see emotion reveals.

I was moved by Switched On in a way no other memoir has touched me. This is truly a unique experience that Robison has shared.

After the reception his book, Look Me In the Eye, John Elder Robison was approached to participate in a research study. Scientists wanted to measure the plasticity of the brain, in other words, how the brain can adapt, change, and ‘rewire’ itself. They also sought results about cognitive therapies and how that might affect the brain. The idea was to see if TMS could be used to effect the difficulties autistic people have reading the emotions and nonverbal communication of others.

People on the autism spectrum are not unemotional or uncaring. They do have difficulty reading people, understanding, and responding in the expected way to situations. This is something that people are expected to come by naturally, but this skill seems particularly elusive to people on the spectrum.

Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change, chronicles the unexpected and far reaching results of this research study. Robison underwent moments of amazing emotional awakening and others of devastation as a result of the sudden onslaught of awareness.

This memoir leaves us with more questions than answers about the future of TMS for therapeutic uses. Delving into this area of research raises a multitude of ethical questions.

“The thing is, not all differences lead to disability. Some lead to exceptionality. And we don’t necessarily know enough to tell one from the other. Yet we are on the verge of acting on that incomplete knowledge right now in the area of autism.”

Switched On left me feeling conflicted. It offers hope for future understanding and therapies, but is, in part, a cautionary tale. We would do well to take heed. At the same time, there were tremendous gains for Robison. This book has given me a deeper understanding of why someone might be willing to try these kinds of treatments.

I like Robison’s writing style. I find his books to be easy to read and entertaining, while at the same time providing information. In this particular book he does tend to stray into areas that are a bit technical for me, but his down-to-earth style kept me engaged with the story throughout. This book was a fascinating read and I finished it quickly.

I recommend this book for anyone curious about TMS, autism, or for anyone interested in a good memoir.

I also suggest Robison’s first book, Look Me in The Eye, or another of his books, Be Different, both of which I found to be very encouraging and informative. This recent book is a bit different than the two I have previously read since it deals with medical research, but Robison’s engaging story telling style remains. In Switched On Robison has given readers the opportunity to gain further insights into his autistic journey.

Listen as John Elder Robison talks about his experience on NPR “Here and Now.”

Read my review of John Elder Robinson’s memoir Look Me in the Eye here.

☕ Book Break ☕ | The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Impossible Knife of Memory 

by Laurie Halse Anderson

This is a book about a family in crisis. I was deeply affected by the difficulties Hayley faced. In this novel, we are given a clear picture of how the child or children will struggle and develop their own mental health issues when the parent is not healthy. Post traumatic stress disorder is such a devastating condition, and it is an issue that deserves more attention.

During many of the scenes in this book, the tension was so high that I had to stop reading. Because it mirrors situations that are all too real and many of our serviceman’s lives, The scenarios were too easy to imagine.

The book isn’t all serious or tragic. We have the usual cast of high school characters and the endearing love interest with humor to lighten the tone at times.

The relationships are complicated. The characters are well rounded and realistic. This is an emotion packed read about a timely topic. There are discussion questions at the end. Sensitively done and beautifully written. 

All the stars

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Due to subject matter, there is mild language, alcoholism, drug use, and violence. Read this one with your kids and talk about PTSD.

☕ Book Break ☕ | Sugar by Deirdre Riordan Hall

 

Sugar

by Deirdre Riordan Hall

“I lean against the doorframe, heavy with the truth. I am always in the way. I’ve known this for as long as I can remember.”

“I’ve always been too much and yet not enough.”

“I know how to swim, but I feel like I’m drowning.”

I loved this young adult novel. I admit I had a hard time getting into this book at the beginning, but it wasn’t long before I was drawn into the plot. Sugar’s story resonated with me, and I am glad a friend recommended this novel. 

Sugar is a 17-year-old girl with an eating disorder. Home life is fraught with abuse both mental and physical. Sugar is a good girl. She tries with all her might to please her family, but they are never satisfied. She eats to fill the painful void left by rejection.

Other readers have mentioned that the middle of the novel dragged, but I didn’t notice this. I felt the story moved along at a sufficient pace and it kept my interest throughout. It actually kept me awake when I should have gone to bed!

Sugar was a quick read.  Deirdre Riordan Hall’s storytelling style is somewhat straightforward, but the story line and characters were engaging. I found myself rooting for Sugar.

The novel has a satisfactory ending, although tragedy (more tragedy!) does visit Sugar’s world. All the ends tie up nicely without it being too gooey-happy in the end. This is an empowering read for girls going through difficult times. Upon finishing the book, my overall feeling was one of hope. This is a story about rejection, how teens value themselves, and about overcoming.

Sugar’s battles tugged at my heart. This is one I categorize as must read for teens and adults simply because the character spoke volumes to me. It is a deceptively simple tale that delves deep. I found it an emotional read that stuck with me after I turned the last page.

With a caution for younger readers about topics covered, I would highly recommend this book for pre-teens, teens, and adults.

Topics:

Obesity, abuse, abandonment, bullying, assault, attempted rape, contains language, death, mentions of Catholic religion, prayers, rituals.

Deirdre Riordan Hall talks ‘Sugar’ and speaking up against bullies.

Author’s Website

 

 

 

 

☕ Book Break ☕ | The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

 

The Girl He Used to Know

 

I adore restoration of lost love stories. 

 

Overall I loved, loved, loved the characters and the story. I cried buckets. Every now and then I got stressed out for Annika and the situations she got herself into. 

  

The way the author showed how adults on the spectrum can continue to grow and learn new skills was definitely something I appreciate being addressed. Too often people assume that someone with a developmental disability or cognitive delays only has until the end of high school to acquire skills. There were pains taken to correctly define ASD without sounding like it was out of place. The writing was seamless, the story moving along and unfolding naturally.

 

The writer obviously did her research to accurately portray Annika, although I would love to see more books about people on the spectrum with less stereotypical autsitc characters. Not all autistics rock, flick their fingers, or crave solitude. 

 

Well worth the read. 

 

This may be on the top of my best books this year because of my interest in autistic characters and simply because it is an engaging, well plotted novel with emotional impact. I will check out other books by this author.

 

Things I LOVED

 

Characters

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

Plot (some people felt it was a little cheesy at the end, but I liked it)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

Need for Kleenex for Weepy Moments

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

Satisfying Ending

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

General All Around Lovely Novel

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A little spicy. A few sex scenes, but not as steamy as The Kiss Quotient.