Saturday, January 6, 2018

mental health matters

This week I read Madness by Zac Brewer.

It's a brutal look at depression, mental health, recovery, and hope.

The Author's Note comes at the front of the book. It advises:
If, as you are reading this book, you find yourself experiencing symptoms of depression or suicidal thoughts, please seek help. You are not alone. And you can recover.

This book starts dark but explores depression, self harm, and suicide in a way that is important for young adults.

Brooke Danvers is 17 and recovering from a suicide attempt. She has just spent six weeks as a patient in Kingsdale Hospital, being watched, getting therapy, and having people constantly make sure she is doing better so that she can go home. Brooke has been suffering from depression for a very long time. She thinks that the one way she can escape her suffering is to end her own life.

Brooke's best friend is Duckie. He is hands down one of the best BFFs I've read. When RIP is written on Brooke's locker in black Sharpie, Duckie had the graffiti removed.
"It doesn't matter, Duckie. They'll just do it again anyway."Duckie leaned against the lockers and brushed a pink strand from my eyes. "It does matter. Because you're a person, not a headline ... or a punch line."

The information listed in the front of the book is an important resource for teens:

For more information on depression and how to get help, visit the Youth Resources page of the American Academy of Childhood and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). There you'll find information on finding the right care for yourself, how to recognize depression in others, and what you can do to help someone in crisis. 

For further educational resources - as well as inspirational stories of recovery - visit To Write Love on Her Arms. TWLOHA is a nonprofit movement dedicated to finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. 

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline exists to provide immediate assistance to individuals in suicidal crisis by connecting them to the nearest available suicide prevention and mental health service provider through a toll free number. 1-800-273-TALK (8255)  

If you are in immediate crisis, dial 911The world is a better place with you in it.

Also check out Crisis Text Line.
Get free help by texting CONNECT to 741741 in the United States. You can text anytime from anywhere in the USA about any type of crisis. A live, trained Crisis Counselor receives the text and lets you know that they are here to listen.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Kindness connects to who you are

Have you heard that every day by David Levithan is going to be a movie?
Here's a look at the trailer:

When I read this book back in 2012, this was the quote I loved most:
I no longer think she's just being nice. She's being kind. Which is much more a sign of character than mere niceness. Kindness connects to who you are, while niceness connects to how you want to be seen. 

This is page one. Be sure to read the book before you see the movie.

And, remember: love is love is love is love...

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Love, Simon

Simon Vs The HomoSapiens Agenda

From GoodReads:
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met. 

This is a great book! It is the perfect book for teens to start the new year with.

I wanted to read Simon Vs The Homo sapiens Agenda for a while, but I just haven't found the time. Then I saw that it will soon be coming out as a movie... so I made a point to read it over the holiday break. I'm so glad I did.

Love, Simon...

Monday, November 20, 2017


Last week I read One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M McManus.

From GoodReads:

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon's dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

One Of Us Is Lying was called a hybrid of The Breakfast Club and Pretty Little Liars ... with a little bit of Ten Little Indians to make things interesting. What happens when five people enter detention, but only four people end-up walking back out again? Who’s guilty? Who’s innocent? And how will things change once everyone’s dark secrets begin to surface?
Does everyone have secrets? 
This is a great book for teens who like mysteries and thrillers. It should keep even the most clever sleuth guessing.

Monday, November 13, 2017

a home in her heart

"You go through life thinking there’s so much you need. . . . Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother."

Marin is spending her winter break alone in her dorm room after finishing her first semester of college, because she doesn’t have a home to go back to.
From GoodReads:
Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart.

The story is sparsely written and beautiful. It alternates between flashbacks and the present, so we gradually learn the truth about what happened in those weeks before Marin left California.

I met Nina LaCour at YALSA where she talked about We Are Okay. She had thought it would be a sweet remembrance of her grandfather who had passed away, but it ended up being so much more. Written during a time of great upheaval and disillusionment in her life... there was huge contrast between her new family filled with love and hope, and the grief of her past.

This is a wonderful book of new beginnings, grief, uncertainty, solitude, relationships, family and love. Get it for the teens you know who have experienced change. Get this book for all the teens you know.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

It’s a long way down from the eighth floor to the lobby

I read Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. It's a beautiful, haunting, poetic cautionary tale written in verse. I loved it, and I love Jason Reynolds.

I read this book just before Halloween, and this poem, along with so many others, have been stuck in my throat:


that says DO NOT CROSS
gets put up, and there's nothing
left to do but go home.

That tape lets people know
that this is a murder scene,
as if we ain't already know that.

The crowd backs its way into
buildings and down blocks
until nothing is left but the tape.

Shawn was zipped into a bag
and rolled away, his blood added
to the pavement galaxy of

bubblegum stars. The tape
framed it like it was art. And the next
day, kids would play mummy with it.

In my neighborhood, front yards were decorated to look spooky and scary. One house was decorated with yellow police tape... and I haven't been able to wrap my head around the fact that what's a halloween novelty to one is an awful reality to another. 

In Long Way Down, fifteen-year-old Will Holloman is forced to consider the potential consequences of his actions as he, armed with a gun in his waistband and seeking revenge, waits for the elevator in his building to reach the ground floor. 

As the elevator descends, different ghosts of shootings past... each connected to Will in sometimes surprising ways... enter the elevator with him. They share experiences, question him and challenge his motives. It’s a long way down from the eighth floor to the lobby, but it only takes seven floors, 60 seconds and six ghosts to make him question his quest for revenge.

Check out Long Way Down on NPR.

Get this book for teens who love stories written in verse. Get this book for all Jason Reynolds fans (The Boy In The Black Suit, All American Boys, When I Was The Greatest, Ghost).

This book is a provocative page turner about family, tradition and the cycle of violence that will stick in your throat and lodge in your heart for days to come.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Moxie Girls Fight Back!

I recently attended a workshop called Identity in YA: Representing All Teens through Library Programming. One of the facilitators of the workshop was Christine Pyles, Youth Services Manager from the Euclid Public Library in Ohio. She recommended the book Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu  for students interested in feminism, social justice, and civil protest. So I ordered Moxie; I read it in two days; I absolutely loved it.

Vivian is a high school junior. After awakening to some disturbing facts at her school - the football players get away with everything, dress codes only affect girls, and sexual harassment is just part of everyday life - Vivian forms Moxie, an anonymous school 'zine that invites other girls to band together and fight back.

My favorite part: the Hearts and Stars...

The parts about dress codes made my blood boil...
I glance down at my boring jeans and plain gray t-shirt. Each time a girl has been called out by an administrator, she's been forced to stand up like some doll on display as the administrator scans her carefully. When Kelly Chen had to stand in math class, her cheeks pinked up so quickly that I felt myself blushing out of sympathy. I'd rather die than have the whole class's eyes on me analyzing my clothes and body.

The dress code checks go on all week, and I find myself wearing my biggest, baggiest shirts and sloppiest jeans to avoid getting called out in front of everyone. Each time a girl has to stand up in front of the room for inspection, I find myself sinking deeper into my desk. On Wednesday morning, after we recite the Pledge of Allegiance and the Texas Pledge, Principal Wilson's pinched twang cuts into second period announcements. 
"You may have noticed we've put an emphasis on dress code this week, and we hope y'all will adhere to the rules and regulations detailed in the student handbook about modesty and proper dress." As he speaks, I notice a few girls near me roll their eyes at each other. I glance at my shoes and grin. Principal Wilson keeps talking. 
"Please remember that when you get dressed in the morning, you're coming to a learning environment, and we expect you to be dressed as a student, not a distraction. Ladies, I'm especially talking to you to keep tabs on your outfits and remember that modesty is a virtue that never goes out of style."

Moxie addresses mysogeny and rape culture head on, in a teen appropriate way, and with a nod to how many ways it affects our day-to-day lives.

Get this book for every teen you know. 

Be sure you discuss the ending Note From The Author.

Check out the additional resources: 

This is a great book for teens, and Amy Poehler has aquired the movie rights to Moxie. Be sure to read the book before seeing the movie. 

The past year has not been an easy one, but books like Moxie inspire us to fight back.