Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Great Wide Sea by M.H. Herlong

Okay, as I picked this book up, I thought, a book about three brothers that become shipwrecked. Hmmm... wonder how this will compare to other wilderness survival stories like the fabulous Hatchet by Gary Paulsen?

My verdict? Surprisingly well. The story begins with a teaser ...
"Once upon a time three boys were lost at sea. One almost drowned. One almost went crazy. One fell off a cliff."
... and then switches to the beginning of the story--way before the island. We learn that the three brothers and their father are going to be taking a years' sailing trip in the Bahamas. The mother recently died in a car accident and all in the family are struggling with their grief. Yes, lots of dysfunction here! Dad apparently doesn't bother to tell the boys his plans until AFTER he's set it all in motion. Some of this part of the story drags, but it's good to know a little of the family history.

The action picks up with the sailing trip. Lots of description of what it takes to sail, especially good for someone like me who lives hundreds of miles from the ocean. What really makes this story is the interaction between the three brothers once they are marooned. The action picks up as well and it's a real page-turner until the end.

I'd definitely recommend this for those fans of Hatchet, and anyone else looking for a riveting survival adventure. I give it a B+, Recommended.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor

I really, really didn't want to read this book. Another story about a girl struggling in life with a mom that didn't know how to be a parent. Ugh! I see enough of that in real life. Do I have to read about it too?!? But, this is a Lone Star Book this year and I wanted to read them all before the school year starts, so I took a deep breath and dove in.

The story starts off with Addie and her mom moving in to a run down old trailer at the edge of town, right next to a railroad bridge. Her mom has just divorced her stepdad, Dwight, a man to whom Addie has become very attached. Dwight has custody of Addie's two half sisters and is moving out of town for a job, and Addie won't get to see any of them very often. She has to start a new school and her mom is glued to either the television or the computer screen. Addie takes care of herself, and at times takes care of her mom as well. When her mom meets a new man, Addie knows that it may be days before she returns home. Addie has to check the food in the pantry and see how long she can make it last. More than anything, Addie longs for a normal life and a normal home, but it doesn't look like she'll get that. When a tragedy occurs, Addie's life once again changes. But will it be a change for the better?

Waiting for Normal is one of those books to tug at the ol' heartstrings. My heart just went out to Addie and I hurt when she did and actually teared up at points. While some sad things happen in the story, it does have a hopeful ending, so don't worry those of you that want the happily ever after ending.

Overall, a fantastic book! Ignore the 'eh' cover, and just dig in. It's well worth the time to read this lovely and poignant story. I give it an 'A', Highly Recommended. This book is a must read for those that enjoyed Pictures of Hollis Woods or So B. It.