Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Prom and Prejudice and Beatles

In the world of YA fiction, it seems that some themes are forever, such as first romances, broken hearts, and true friendship. I certainly remember reading many, many books in my teen years that fall into to these categories. These books are also a favorite of teen girls, who tend to share books like these, recommending them to friends and passing the books within groups. Don’t you just love when a book is so good you just can’t help but pass it on to your friends? That’s exactly what happened in my classroom this past year with 2 books by Elizabeth Eulberg. Eulberg has 2 perfectly sweet novels about first romances, broken hearts, and true friendship. Both of these books created such a buzz that I had to read them for myself, in fact the teen girls in my room recommended them to me. (I couldn’t refuse that, could I?)

Prom and Prejudice

Books based in a High School always strike a chord with me. I enjoy all of the drama, friendships and cliques, and academia all wrapped up in one story. (Maybe this is why I am a teacher?) For all of these reasons, Prom and Prejudice really was the perfect recommendation for me. While you can guess from the title that the book plays off of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, you don’t have to be an Austen lover to fall in love with this book. But … if you happen to be a Austen lover, this book is full of connections to Austen, so of course, you will love it too.

Lizzie is a student at a scholarship student at Longbourn Academy. Her passion is music, as is her scholarship, and while this gives her focus and purpose, it also makes her very different from the rich teens with whom she shares her classes, dorm, and campus. Other girls are focused on prom and the boys at a neighboring school; Lizzie could care less. The story has enough surprises and quirky connections to keep readers absolutely entertained and wanting more. I think the book would be perfect for girls thinking about prom and girls slightly younger teens who are already dreaming of going to prom.

I guess you can already tell that I loved this book. It was so easy to read and get to know the characters. This book is almost an anti-prom story to tell the truth, and that’s perfect for me. Eulberg’s writing seems effortless, she taps into the voice and feelings of teens from many different ways of life in a very personal way. I particularly enjoyed meeting the family’s of the characters in this book and wish there was more and more to read. I really would give this book to most teen girls who like cute and fun stories about teens.

Lonely Heart’s Club

Before I begin this review, I should explain that I am new to blogging. You see, my son, Lil Guy (now two), joined our family, I finished my Master’s in Reading, and I had some significant changes in my teaching job all within 2 years which sent me on a whirlwind that left me spending a lot of my free time reading, a lot of my professional time reading, and a lot of my family time reading too. I was inspired by following some excellent reading blogs, hitting bookstores, libraries, and book networking sites. Just as all this was happening I read and fell in love with some YA books. I had always read YA books and enjoyed them but a few books I couldn’t stop talking about. The Lonely Hearts Club was one of those books.

Finally after tell everyone I knew about the book and encouraging others to read it or at least listen to my strong feelings about the book, I decided to research the author and send her an e-mail about how the book was totally awesome. I sent off a heartfelt note about why this book had connected so much with me (and my students). I was actually surprised when I heard back from Ms. Eulberg. She sent back a beautiful and personal note with a little aside about her next novel ready in about six months. She didn’t have to convince me, I can’t wait to read more from this author! So, after all of this, I gradually began to toy with the idea of starting to share my own YA and children’s literature blog, drawing from my experiences and expertise. After all, it is so much of what I enjoy about teaching: sharing books with others. So I jumped into this blog, and it has only been a week, but here I am!

And now introducing: The Lonely Hearts Club a beautifully clever book about one teen’s experiences dealing with a broken heart and learning how to lean on her friends, accept her family (with all their quirks), and possibly get revenge on teen boys. Penny Lane is named after the Beatle’s title character and she is almost as passionate about the Beatles as her parents, who are quite obsessed. Penny starts off in l.o.v.e. with a boy that she just knows is the one. the one! When he does the ultimate bad guy deed, she vows that all boys are jerks. She swears off dating and decides to focus on being the best she can be as a friend, sister, and daughter. Everyone around her see what she is doing and some girls even follow suit, forming this club, The Lonely Hearts Club. This book has a very loud Girl Power theme to it! The best part of this book isn’t the constant reference to the Beatles or the fun and quirky characters, it’s the surprising valuable and palatable lesson that Penny and her friends learn by the end of the book.

You already know that I love this book; I just hope that others are reading it and enjoying it as much as I did. I hope teen girls are talking about it. I hope, hope, hope, Eulberg writes more about these characters! (She has already hinted that she may return to these characters in the future.) The book isn’t too girlie, so it has appeal to a wide range of readers. I think it has a few mature scenes and should be reserved for teens. If you haven’t found Eulberg on your to be read list yet, I strongly suggest adding her books to your list.

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