You Look Different in Real Life
By Jennifer Castle
Publication date: June 4, 2013
HarperTeen, 368 pages
For the rest of the world, the movies are entertainment. For Justine, they’re real life.
The premise was simple: five kids, just living their lives. There’d be a new movie about them every five years, starting in kindergarten. But no one could have predicted what the cameras would capture. And no one could have predicted that Justine would be the star.
Now sixteen, Justine doesn’t feel like a star anymore. In fact, when she hears the crew has gotten the green light to film Five at Sixteen, all she feels is dread. The kids who shared the same table in kindergarten have become teenagers who hardly know one another. And Justine, who was so funny and edgy in the first two movies, feels like a disappointment.
But these teens have a bond that goes deeper than what’s on film. They’ve all shared the painful details of their lives with countless viewers. They all know how it feels to have fans as well as friends. So when this latest movie gives them the chance to reunite, Justine and her costars are going to take it. Because sometimes, the only way to see yourself is through someone else’s eyes.
Smart, fresh, and frequently funny, You Look Different in Real Life is a piercing novel about life in an age where the lines between what’s personal and what’s public aren’t always clear.
— Goodreads.com description
Ooooh I definitely enjoyed You Look Different in Real Life by Jennifer Castle.
First of all: The concept. Just imagine how hard it would be to have your whole life displayed for the world to see. Hard as a kid, but even harder as a teen. Blech! No, thank you. So it was really interesting to see how Justine coped (or didn’t cope, as the case may be).
Plus: The dynamics between the kids were so spot-on. Okay, sure, the reality movie thing isn’t an everyday situation, but the way Castle depicted the drifting friendships was something we can all relate to. It’s a natural part of growing up, and I love how well it was addressed here. I’ve been thinking I’d like to see move of that in books lately — especially in New Adult books because it gets even worse when everyone splits up for college — so I really loved that aspect of the book.
Otherwise, was it a little predictable? Yes. But I was still entertained.
By Hilary T. Smith
Publication date: May 28, 2013
Katherine Tegen Books, 400 pages
Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:
1. You will remember to water the azaleas.
2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.
3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.
4. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands.
5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.
Things that actually happen:
1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.
2. He says he has her stuff.
3. What stuff? Her stuff.
4. You tell him your parents won’t be able to—
5. Sukey died five years ago; can’t he—
6. You pick up a pen.
7. You scribble down the address.
8. You get on your bike and go.
9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.*
*also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.
Both exhilarating and wrenching, Hilary T. Smith’s debut novel captures the messy glory of being alive, as seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd discovers love, loss, chaos, and murder woven into a summer of music, madness, piercing heartbreak, and intoxicating joy.
— Goodreads.com description
If you haven’t heard all of the amazing things people are saying about Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith, well, no worries because you’re about to hear a TON of good things from me.
Wild Awake is a stunning, riveting debut that made me feel like I was experiencing everything right alongside of the main character — from soaking in the highs of new love to teetering on the edge of despair.
If you’re not open to it, the writing style might take you a bit off guard — it comes so close to stream-of-consciousness that is really thrusts you in to Kiri’s brain. But I actually really loved that. When Kiri feels manic, you feel manic. When she’s lusty, you’re…well, lusty too. I felt like Smith’s writing style so perfectly captured the way someone in Kiri’s unique position would think, and as hard as it was at times, I enjoyed taking what felt like a really realistic a peek into her inner workings.
For fans of serious contemporaries (I can see why Gayle Forman gave the quote on the front of the book!), I can’t recommend this highly enough. There’s a love story, there’s a lot of psychological issues, they’s a mystery…it’s just all-encompassingly good. Can’t wait to read more from this lovely new author!
Also Known As
By Robin Benway
Publication date: Feb. 26, 2013
Bloomsbury Juvenile US, 320 pages
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Being a 16-year-old safecracker and active-duty daughter of international spies has its moments, good and bad. Pros: Seeing the world one crime-solving adventure at a time. Having parents with super cool jobs. Cons: Never staying in one place long enough to have friends or a boyfriend. But for Maggie Silver, the biggest perk of all has been avoiding high school and the accompanying cliques, bad lunches, and frustratingly simple locker combinations.
Then Maggie and her parents are sent to New York for her first solo assignment, and all of that changes. She’ll need to attend a private school, avoid the temptation to hack the school’s security system, and befriend one aggravatingly cute Jesse Oliver to gain the essential information she needs to crack the case . . . all while trying not to blow her cover.
— Goodreads.com description
Trapped in an airport during a four-hour (!!!) flight delay, I was thrilled to remember I had Also Known As by Robin Benway awaiting me on my Kindle. And it was the perfect book to help the time pass quickly — fast-paced and fun. Needless to say, I finished it all in one sitting.
If, like me, you grew up longing to be Trixie Belden or Harriet the Spy, you’ll love this book. Fans of Heist Society particularly will want to check it out.
Passing my time with Robin Benway’s Maggie Silver in Also Known As was an absolute treat and, in my case, a sanity-saver. If you’re not familiar with Robin Benway, also be sure to check out Audrey, Wait!, a book I called “non-stop entertaining” and “soooo me!” Love it.
Anatomy of a Single Girl
By Daria Snadowsky
Publication date: Jan. 8, 2013
Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 240 pages
Source: Gifted from the author
With Judy Blume-like honesty and insight, this sequel to Anatomy of a Boyfriend is about life after first love–romance, sex, friendship, family, and the ups and downs of life as a single girl.
After everything that happened—my first boyfriend, my first time, my first breakup—jumping back into the dating game seemed like the least healthy thing I could do. It’s not that I didn’t want to fall in love again, since that’s about the best feeling ever. But as a busy college premed still raw from heartbreak, which is the worst feeling ever, I figured I’d lie low for a while. Of course, as soon as I stopped looking for someone, an impossibly amazing—and devastatingly cute—guy came along, and I learned that having a new boyfriend is the quickest way to recover from losing your old one.
The moment we got together, all my preconceptions about romance and sex were turned upside down. I discovered physical and emotional firsts I never knew existed. I learned to let go of my past by living in the present. It was thrilling. It was hot. It was just what the doctor ordered.
But I couldn’t avoid my future forever.
In Daria Snadowsky’s daring follow-up to Anatomy of a Boyfriend, eighteen-year-old Dominique explores the relationship between love and lust, and the friendships that see us through.
— Goodreads.com description
“Judy Blume-like” is right — that’s exactly the comparison I thought as I read this forthright and refreshing book by Daria Snadowsky.
Like Blume before her, Snadowsky takes on every aspect of sex in Anatomy of a Single Girl: the emotional consequences, birth control, what it’s like to get your first checkup at the gynecologist, masturbation, you name it. Told from the point of view of funny, likable main character, this story answers all the questions girls want to know but may be too shy to ask.
To be honest, at first I was shocked by how clinically and honestly it was written. You don’t read about these things every day. But then I thought: “Why not?” It’s responsibly done and, truly, when I was 18, this is exactly the stuff I wanted to know about. It’s spot-on for the age group and if I were a librarian, I would make sure all my older teens read it.
Plus, I love the new adult aspect here: The story is set over Dom’s summer break home from college. It’s a tricky age: Friends are moving on, parents are adjusting to live without you, high school boyfriends are long gone…there need to be more realistic books about this time of life.
This book is actually a sequel, but I hadn’t read the first book. You don’t need to, but just be prepared to have it spoiled for you pretty quickly. All in all, I really love what the author did here. Did it resonate with me? Well, not really — I’m an old married lady. So while I didn’t love this story, I know it wasn’t written for me and I still absolutely liked and respected it.
This Is What Happy Looks Like
By Jennifer E. Smith
Publication date: April 2, 2013
Poppy, 416 pages
If fate sent you an email, would you answer?
When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O’Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.
Then Graham finds out that Ellie’s Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media’s spotlight at all costs?
— Goodreads.com description
Will it get a spot alongside The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight on my favorites shelf? Probably not, honestly. But when you boil it all down, I have to say: This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith is exactly the type of book I crave.
This story, for me, represents why I read to many Meg Cabot books and watched so many Disney Channel movies as a young adult. Is has all the things I daydreamed about at that age: Falling in love with someone through letter writing? Dating a superstar? Living in a beach town and working at the ice cream shop? HELLOOOOOO!
So, yeah, not a favorite…probably because it lacked some of the heart-stopping urgency that sucks me into books like this. But regardless, This Is What Happy Looks Like absolutely confirmed that Jennifer E. Smith knows how to write about things girls want to read. And that makes me so excited to see what she’s got in store for us next!