Tag Archives: Teen Drama

The Unwritten Rule – Elizabeth Scott
Book Reviews
September 11, 2010 posted by Nikki

The Unwritten Rule – Elizabeth Scott

He’s looking at me like – well, like he wants to look at me. Like he likes what he sees, and he’s smiling and his eyes are so blue, even in the faint glow of the porch light they shine, and I nod dumbly, blindly, then grope for the door handle, telling myself to look away and not yet able to do it.

“Sarah,” he says, softly, almost hesitantly, and my heart slam bangs, beating hard, and this is what it’s like to want someone you can’t have. To want someone you shouldn’t even be looking at.

Sarah is in quite the predicament. She’s riding that rollercoaster of first love – the pain, the exhilaration, the ups and downs. Only problem is, she’s doing it solo – unrequited style. She’s been in love with Ryan since the eighth grade, but now he’s dating her emotionally stunted best friend, Brianna, and Sarah is forced to stumble through each day, the pain of seeing them together pulling at her insides with every second that passes.

Brianna has crappy parents who clearly don’t want her around, and Ryan seems to make Brianna feel like she matters to someone. At least, that’s how it looks to Sarah, which is why Sarah is so hell bent on keeping her feelings completely and totally to herself. How could she take Ryan away from Brianna, when she has so little to start with?

Besides, there’s no way Sarah could compete with the sassy, sexiness that is Brianna – and Brianna makes sure Sarah knows it every single day. Brianna might have crappy parents, but that’s no excuse for the way she treats those around her. Its obvious to the reader that Ryan is nothing more than a self-esteem booster for Brianna, and while she might actually love Sarah, she doesn’t know how to show it. I couldn’t help but wonder if Brianna only kept Sarah around to make herself feel better.

But then, it seems, Ryan sees through Brianna’s dance, and decides to take his affections elsewhere – right into the garden of Sarah! Turns out, Ryan has kind of been in love with Sarah for ages, but got all caught up in the whirlwind that is Brianna and time just got away. But he wont stand for that anymore. He wants Sarah, and nothing – nothing – will stand in his way.

Not even Brianna, when she walks in on Ryan and Sarah lying curled up together in Sarah’s bed.

The Unwritten Rule is interesting exploration through the rules of dating and friendship. Were Ryan and Sarah wrong to pursue each other when Brianna was still so clearly caught in the middle. Did they consider her feelings enough? With the way Brianna was treating the pair of them, should they have considered her feelings at all? When is it okay to break the rules of friendship for matters of the heart? These are all questions I asked myself repeatedly throughout this story.

Sarah and Ryan are both likable characters, but I found Brianna to be shallow, callous and difficult to read. She’s clearly got some emotional issues, but the way she treats those around her makes my stomach squirm. You’d think, with her home life being so terrible and all, she’d value the love of her friends a little more.

The Unwritten Rule is a home run for Elizabeth Scott. This is a great, contemporary chick lit read!

Publication date: 2010

Pages: 210

Rating:: ★★★★☆

Teaser Quote: “I wasn’t happy with you? Brianna says. “Almost eight weeks, Ryan. And then you go and – ” she glares at me. “Is this my anniversary present? You could have at least picked someone decent. Someone I’d believe you want and not just who you used to make yourself feel better.”

Return To Paradise – Simone Elkeles
Book Reviews
August 2, 2010 posted by Nikki

Return To Paradise – Simone Elkeles

Caleb Becker left Paradise eight months ago, taking with him the secret he promised to take to his grave. If the truth got out, it would ruin everything.

Maggie Armstrong tried to be strong after Caleb broke her heart and disappeared. Somehow, she managed to move on. She’s determined to make a new life for herself.

But then Caleb and Maggie are forced together on a summer trip. They try ignoring their passion for each other, but buried feelings resurface. Caleb must face the truth about the night of Maggie’s accident, or the secret that destroyed their relationship will forever stand between them.

When Caleb left Paradise eight months ago, he thought he was doing the right thing. For himself, for Maggie, for his family. Paradise was full of bad memories, and trouble seemed to find him wherever he went. Turns out, trouble seems to find him no matter where he is. Caleb is one of those accidental bad boys – he does everything he can to keep his nose in line, but somehow, he always ends up in the middle of the most horrible situations.

That’s how he wound up on this stupid summer program. Although he wasn’t dealing, he ended up in the middle of a drug bust – a huge miscommunication that he couldn’t talk his way out of – and it was either back to juvenile hall (for yet another crime he didn’t commit) or attend this program for kids affected by drunk driving. Caleb chooses the program.

What he didn’t expect, though, was to come face to face with Maggie – his ex. He never really got over Maggie, and he thought that leaving Paradise would be the best thing for her, but standing in front of her now, actually looking into her eyes, Caleb realizes he let the one good thing that’s ever happened to him go. What a blustering idiot. But Caleb, being Caleb, doesn’t try and make things right with Maggie in the conventional way. He antagonizes her, constantly offends her, and insults her again and again and again. But that’s Caleb for you – emotionally stunted.

When Caleb shows up on the program, Maggie almost can’t believe her eyes. Where has he been for the last eight months? Why didn’t he call to say that he was safe? How could he have just left her like that? In the wake of Caleb’s departure, Maggie fell into a deep depression, but she made it through the other side and forced herself to move on. Move on from Caleb, move on from everything they shared together.

But standing in front of him right now … God, how could this be happening?

While Caleb and Maggie air their dirty laundry in front of their group members, they realize that they’re still very much in love. They’re hurting, and stumbling blindly through each day, but they still love each other. That should be all that really matters, but the big question is, how can they possibly make it, when the entire world is stacked against them?

I’ve said this before, and I’m sure I’ll say it many times again – Simone Elkeles rocks my yaReads socks off! I fell in love with Caleb in Leaving Paradise, but now I’m completely beyond help. I am a Caleb addict. He is, without a doubt, my favorite Elkeles character to date. He’s so messed up, so emotionally deficient, but at the same time, he knows exactly who he is, what his limitations are, and where his strengths lie.

During this novel, Maggie becomes a force to be reckoned with. She was meek, shy, and lacked any kind of confidence in Leaving Paradise. It’s clear she’s grown a whole lot since Caleb left, and she’s got her boxing gloves on, ready to go as many rounds as she needs to get the absolution and the closure that she so desperately wants. She’s strong, intelligent and utterly believable in everything she does. When it comes to the crunch, though, Maggie’s underlying essence is still there, and she follows her heart – even when she probably shouldn’t.

There’s only one thing you need to know about this book: it’s absolutely fabulous in every single way.

Simone Elkeles is fast becoming on my fave YA authors around.

Publication Date: August 2010

Pages: 285

Rating:: ★★★★★

Teaser Quote: I remember the times we spent together working at Mrs Reynolds house, when we fooled around in the gazebo and I ran my hands over her smooth, milky soft skin. “You knew I didn’t hurt you, but you let me go along thinking that you did. How could you?”

In Ecstasy – Kate McCaffrey
Book Reviews
September 30, 2009 posted by Nikki

In Ecstasy – Kate McCaffrey

Ecstasy. I’d always thought I might try it one day. I’d heard kids at school talking about getting wasted on the weekends. They made it sound awesome. I pictured the roughly made tablets with their tiny butterflies. An amazing experience inside a tiny pill.

My body ached and my face was sore – I guess from smiling so much. I don’t remember ever laughing more. A new world had opened up for me, a place where I was confident and beautiful and a hot guy like Lewis wanted to be with me. That morning I figured life couldn’t get any better. How could something that made you feel like that be bad for you?

Meet Mia. She’s only just turned fifteen and she’s always been in Sophie’s shadow. Not that she minded, not really. Without Sophie, Mia wouldn’t have a social life. Without Sophie, Mia would probably be a nobody. So when Sophie takes Mia to a party one night and offers her an ecstasy tablet, Mia doesn’t even think about saying no. Before she even realises what is happening to her, Mia is flying high – and loving every minute of it. Armed with the artificial confidence the drug provides, Mia is invincible, and her newfound radiance does not go unnoticed.

Enter Lewis. Very hot. Sweet and charming as hell. Suddenly very interested in Mia. Lewis is no stranger to ecstasy. His parents are away a lot and Lewis is often left to fend for himself. It’s not hard to turn into a party animal when you’ve got no parental units to keep you in your cage. The more Mia hangs out with Lewis, the more ecstasy she takes. Before she even knows what is happening, Mia can’t socialize without it.

Slot in Sophie here. Sophie is supposed to be Mia’s best friend, but since she’s been hanging out with Lewis and his crew, she’s changed. Sophie can see what is happening to Mia, but when she tries to talk to her about it, Mia reckons that she’s just jealous and blows her off. Sophie has a whole lot of other stuff going on in her life and she really needs her best friend right now … but is that even Mia anymore?

In Ecstasy is all about the downward spiral. For Mia, its one that is fueled by drugs and an overarching need to fit in, feel popular and be loved. For Sophie, while it may have started like that for her, her painful journey takes a bit of a different turn. With both girls so disconnected, who is going to save them? Who is going to snap them back to their reality?

Kate McCaffrey’s portrayal of the drug scene is terrifyingly accurate.  If you’re thinking about taking drugs, or you know someone who may be thinking about it, reading something like In Ecstasy first might be a smart move. While Mia’s story isn’t applicable to everyone, and not everyone who takes drugs gets addicted, In Ecstasy is an excellent representation of what can happen if you do.

I can’t say that I enjoyed reading this, but I’m certainly glad that I did.

Rating:: ★★★★☆

Halfway to Good – Kristen Murphy
Book Reviews
September 14, 2009 posted by Nikki

Halfway to Good – Kristen Murphy

It’s the first day of Term One, and Luke and Anna are on opposite sides of the student-teacher divide. School is the last thing Luke feels like – how can he feel halfway to good when his father is sick, his mother is sad and his older brother is painfully present?

Anna’s life still revolves around love, friendship and homework, but she’s a graduate teacher now. Can she cope with a bullying co-worker, a persistent ex-boyfriend and a class of unforgiving Year Elevens, and still find time to help Luke?

Luke is one depressed teenager, but if you ask me, he’s got pretty good reasons to be so down. His dad is sick – really sick – and life at their place just isn’t as peachy as it used to be. But that’s not where it stops. Luke has other problems, too, he just can’t figure out what they are. He’s got this awesome girlfriend, but he doesn’t want to be with her anymore. Why? No one knows – not even Luke. He’s got these awesome friends, but he keeps shutting them out. Why? No one knows – not even Luke.

Anna is graduate teacher, fresh out of university. Of course she’s worried about her first full time teaching position, but she never anticipated as many stumbling blocks as she encounters. For absolutely no reason at all, one of Anna’s superiors takes an instant disliking to her and does everything she can to ensure Anna’s first year on the job is anything but easy. Luckily for Anna, she’s got a wicked mentor assigned to her, who becomes more like a best friend than a colleague.

Then there’s the whole thing with Anna’s ex-boyfriend. He left town – and her – a while ago, but now he’s back. He’s back, and he wants Anna back too. Anna’s head screams run but he heart… well her heart tells her to stay. What does one do, when presented with such a scenario, especially when he hurt her so badly before?

Luke and Anna’s worlds collide when Luke walks into English at the beginning of the year. She’s his teacher, but by the end of the novel, they’ll mean more to each other than simply student and teacher. In a bizarre twist of fate, Anna’s sister is marrying Luke’s brother. Being intimately linked like that is weird for them at first, especially Luke, but as he gets to know Anna more, he stops thinking of her as his teacher and starts thinking of her as someone he could grow to trust, someone he could grow to care about.

Halfway to Good is narrated through both character’s perspectives. The advantage that this novel has over singularly narrated novels is that the dual narration concept leaves nothing to the imagination. Readers don’t need to assume anything because both stories are sprawled on the pages for all to see. It’s fantastic to see how Luke and Anna impact on each other’s lives, and I loved not having to draw my own conclusions for once. Interestingly, because Anna is older than Luke, her perspective provides a different kind of slant to the story, adds a certain depth that is sometimes lacking in regular YA fiction. I still think that teenage readers will be able to relate to Anna, though. She’s only a first year teacher and her thinking patterns aren’t too ancient that the kids wont get where she’s coming from.

Halfway too Good is a solid read, and one that enthusiasts of general, contemporary young adult fiction will love. I fell in love with both Luke and Anna, and I wanted so badly to help heal their aching souls. Narrated through both a male and a female perspective, this is one of those universal novels that I reckon both boys and gals will get into. Can’t get much better than that.

Rating: : ★★★★☆