CLP Teens Blog


just one year

Just One Year by Gayle Forman

In this stand-alone companion to Just One Day, we find out what happened to Willem from his perspective. In Just One Day, Lulu wakes up to discover Willem GONE. Understandably, she’s upset and heartbroken. Did he abandon her? Did something horrible happen to him? In Just One Year, we hear Willem’s story to find out what actually happened to Willem on the day of his disappearance and after.

Willem wakes up to find himself in the hospital with no idea where he is or how he got there. The watch on his wrist is not his – though it jogs his memory of the previous day. He slowly pieces together the details of yesterday, remembering that he spent the most amazing day of his life with Lulu in Paris – though he doesn’t know her real name or how to contact her.

Willem spends the next year drifting through different countries and experiences, but nothing seems to fill the hole in his life. Though he tries to distract himself, Willem cannot stop thinking about Lulu. He contacts the tour group company she used for her trip – no luck. He even visits the Mexican village that Lulu mentioned that she visits every year with her family for the holidays – even more disappointment. Without knowing her real name, Willem believes he will never see Lulu again. To make things worse, he begins to question the day they spent together. Will he ever see Lulu again? If he does, will she be as incredible as he has built her up to be in his head? Will Willem ever find whatever it is he is looking for to fill the hole in his heart?

Reviewed by Amy-CLP-Lawrenceville

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The Gospel of Winter by Brendan Kiely

In the last decade the truth about the rampant sexual abuse within the Catholic Church has reached every corner of the globe. But at Christmas in 2001 another headline was echoing across the country. Hijacked planes had recently been driven off course finding the world trade center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. In the environment of chaos and fear that followed the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001 Aiden Donovan is struggling to come to terms with his own tragedy.

Aiden’s family life is crumbling around him. His mother seems to care more about her impressing their wealthy community than spending time with her teenage son. His father, well he hasn’t bothered to look up from his new life in Europe for long enough to check in on his son. And the one person, Father Greg, who Aiden really thought he could trust, has hurt him the most. To cope, Aiden is trying to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol but things are coming to ahead weather he’s ready or not.

The people in Aiden’s life who should be supporting him have all betrayed him, but even as he feels he is completely alone he begins to forge unexpected friendships that might just help him through.

The Gospel of Winter by Brendan Kiely is a book filled with beautiful prose about survival and overcoming tragedy.

Reviewed by: Brooke, CLP-South Side


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picture me gone

Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff

Mia and her father are supposed to be traveling from their home in London to visit her father’s life-long best friend, Matthew, and his family in New York State. When Matthew goes missing just days before their trip, Mia’s father simply changes their mission. Instead of catching up with an old friend, they’ll be searching for him. Mia’s strange ability to piece together a room’s virtually imperceptible clues and read someone’s unspoken feelings makes her the perfect travel companion.

When she arrives in New York, Mia begins to put the puzzle of Matthew’s life back together. The cherished dog he left behind, an emotionally-detached wife and the details of a car accident that killed Matthew’s first son all begin to paint an unhappy picture of Matthew’s life. As Mia and her father travel further into a snowy New York in an attempt to follow Matthew’s trail, both Mia and the reader begin to feel stranded in a complicated world filled with “adult” problems. Thankfully, Mia’s talent for reading people, her supportive family and her carefully considerate personality prepare her for the betrayal she uncovers—one that hits close to home and makes her question the safe world her parents have created for her.

Reviewed by Erin, CLP-Allegheny


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eleanor & park

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park is an unconventional love story about two misfits who find each other while riding the bus to school.  The book takes place in 1986, which means there are awesome 80’s references to big hair, bright clothes and music from bands such as U2 and The Smiths.  The chapters alternate between the perspectives of both Eleanor and Park which makes for a very compelling story and allows the characters to develop individually and as a couple.

Both Eleanor and Park are misfits in completely different ways.  Eleanor is labeled an outcast on her first day riding the bus due to her wild red hair and eclectic style of dress.  While on the other hand, Park’s outcast status is more self-imposed.  Park is half-Korean in Omaha, Nebraska, a predominately Caucasian city and his interests lie more with literature and music than sports, so he has a hard time relating to his male peers and athletic father and brother.

Eleanor and Park first meet on the bus when they are forced to share a seat.  The two eventually begin talking when Park notices Eleanor reading a comic book over his shoulder.  Their friendship progresses as they share books and mix-tapes and eventually fall in love.

This was such a great read, probably my favorite book of 2013.  The novel explored and brought up so many different emotions—anger, sadness, joy—the vast array of feelings experienced during a first love.  This book definitely put author Rainbow Rowell on my radar and I’m eagerly anticipating her next book!

Reviewed by Maddie, CLP-Squirrel Hill

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Madmans Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Those readers who love science fiction, or maybe just get a kick out of the strange and bizarre, might be familiar with H.G. Wells’ novel The Island of Doctor Moreau. First published in 1896, the book features a brilliant but somewhat misguided (a.k.a. completely insane) scientist who experiments with animals in an attempt to make them act and think more like human beings – because everyone enjoys spending their free time on an isolated island creating half-human beasts, right?

Wells’ original novel is disturbing on a number of levels and touches on a lot of great topics like morality, religion and isolation. However, as is the case with most books written over a century ago, it isn’t exactly as accessible to modern readers as newer sci-fi favorites like The Hunger Games or Divergent. Luckily for us 21st century readers, the story has been given a modern face-lift thanks to Megan Shepherd’s book The Madman’s Daughter.

As you can probably guess from the title, the protagonist of this version of Moreau’s story is the doctor’s 16-year old daughter, Juliet, who was abandoned by her father at the tender age of ten when rumors of his ghastly experiments on animals forced him out of London and, presumably, to his death. But when a late night visit to her father’s old surgical wing leads Juliet to believe that Doctor Moreau may still be alive, she quickly gets caught up in an adventure that will take her half way around the world and put her face to face with romance, danger, and truth about her father’s past.

For those who have read Wells original, it’s a lot of fun to see how the author has inserted her heroine into the story and the surprising directions she takes her version of the novel. For those who haven’t plunged into the 1896 book – no worries! The novel tells its own unique tale and has a lot of great features that aren’t present in the original like an exploration of family, a complicated love triangle, and a strong female protagonist forced to survive in a male-dominated society.

You might’ve guessed that there is some more mature subject matter in The Madman’s Daughter and you’d be right. Apparently, it’s tough to write a book about a madman’s medical experiments for all ages. The book features some disturbing scenes of gore, violence, and general unpleasantness. However, if you’re not too faint of heart, this is a great read filled with adventure, romance and… you know… part human / part animal creatures. Plus, the sequel, Her Dark Curiosity, based on another classic sci-fi story, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, is hitting library shelves now. Check them both out!

Reviewed by J.J. at Beechview


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Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina

Piddy Sanchez is a new sophomore at DJ High.  She didn’t want to change schools.  She liked her old school where her friends are a lot more than DJ which has a reputation for being rough.  Piddy tries to lay low, but apparently she didn’t lay low enough because one of the tough girls school tells Piddy that “Yaqui Delgado wants to kick your ass.”

The first thing that comes to Piddy’s mind is “Who is Yaqui Delgado.”  Turns out Yaqui was suspended twice for fighting last year and she doesn’t like the way Piddy acts stuck up like she’s all that when she’s new.  Yaqui even called her a skank for the way Piddy walks.
Now Piddy’s days are filled with fear that she’s doing something skanky or acting stuck up, when she’s just trying to get through school.  A group of girls stop by Piddy’s afterschool job at a hair salon and tell her that Yaqui wants to meet her at 4, and if she doesn’t show up then when the fight does come, which it will, it’s going to be a lot worse.  Piddy doesn’t show.

Girls like Yaqui don’t back down in real life and this story gets real when Piddy gets jumped.  One of Yaqui’s friends records the unfair fight and puts the video up for everyone to see.  Piddy gets messed up.  Bad.  The effects of the fight aren’t even close to over when the fight ends.

Piddy doesn’t want to tell her mom what happened, so she lies about the bruises, and she doesn’t want to go back to school since everyone saw what happened on the humiliating video.  The bullying has spiraled to consume every aspect of Piddy’s life.

This book is one of the most realistic books about high school I’ve read.  I remember girls I didn’t know threatening to beat me up for something I had no control over.  High school can be a really dark and scary place for a lot of girls.  Read this book to see how Piddy gets through it.

Reviewed by Annica, CLP-West End

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Azumanga Daioh by  Kiyohiko Azuma

This manga is about the life of 5 girls as they make their way through high school.  I always liked Tomo Takino for her happy-go-lucky personality.  I loved the stories because they always make you laugh and feel happy.

I recommend this to anyone who wants a good laugh.

Review by Dakoda CLP-Carrick

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Flowers of Evil by Shuzo Oshimi

 This manga is about a young boy who reads to escape the real world. One day, a classmate of his catches him stealing another’s gym clothes; then his world turns upside down.

Sawa Makamura is a very interesting character. I liked how she hated her town and wanted to leave it. Trying to take the main male character, Takao Kasuga, with her.

I liked how the book took a real life setting.  I would recommend this to anyone who wanted a strange, twisted, love story. I enjoyed this manga and will definitely be looking for more from this author!

Review by Dakoda, CLP-Carrick

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Blue Exorcist by Kazue Kato

This manga is about a boy who lives a normal life until he finds out he’s the son of Satan and his brother is an exorcist. After killing his caretaker, he goes to school to become an exorcist and to protect his friends.

My favorite character is Yukio Okumura because finding out that he was actually an exorcist was a good twist.

 I really enjoyed the artwork in the Blue Exorcist and the many twists. I recommend this work to anyone who likes action manga.

Review by Dakoda, CLP-Carrick

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Spice and Wolf by Isuna Hasekura 

This manga is about a merchant named Lawrence who is traveling. He finds a girl named Holo with wolf ears and a tail in his wagon and finds out that she wants to go home, so she joins him on his travels.

I liked Holo because she’s a wolf and is very different type of character from other anime. I also enjoyed that the book had a nice slice of life feel to it.  I would recommend this to anyone who wants to read something where people go on an adventure.

Review by Dakoda, CLP-Carrick

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